For over a century and a half, the Metro Atlanta Chamber (MAC) has worked to successfully drive positive, fundamental change in metro Atlanta and across Georgia.
In 1859, a group of 12 Atlanta businessmen organized the area's first chamber of commerce, known as the Mercantile Association. Frustrated by railroad freight discrimination, the organization rallied to protest indiscriminate rate increases. By 1867, the organization became the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.
Through the end of the nineteenth century, the Chamber focused on municipal reforms and construction of a public water system. It raised $2 million for the Cotton States and International Exposition that, at the time, was called Atlanta’s greatest public enterprise.
Infrastructure was a key focus of the Chamber at the beginning of the twentieth century. Raising money and recommending bonds for waterworks, sewage disposal, schools, and Grady Memorial Hospital were major accomplishments at the time.
During this period, the Chamber also turned its focus toward marketing Atlanta to the nation. The Forward Atlanta Commission was developed to raise money for a nationwide campaign to recruit talent to “the land of opportunity.”
The 1950s and 1960s were a transformative time in U.S. history as the Civil Rights Movement sought to end racial segregation and discrimination. In 1964, the Atlanta business community made its commitment to progress and unity clear, hosting a dinner in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Nobel Peace Prize. Atlanta Mayor and former Chamber President Ivan Allen Jr., sat beside Dr. King and Coretta Scott King in a proud, historic moment for Atlanta.
The mid-to-late nineteenth century saw continued efforts by the Chamber to improve infrastructure by heading campaigns to finance school, road, and sewage system improvements. In 1964, the passage of a regional rapid transit amendment set the stage for the creation of a five-county authority evolving into today’s Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA).
The 1990s through early 2000s were an important time for growth and recruitment of companies, including Fortune 500 headquarters such as Georgia-Pacific, General Electric, Newell Rubbermaid, and UPS.
Also during this period, the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce helped put Atlanta on the international stage by providing seed money for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games bid. The development of Centennial Olympic Park and the expansion of the Chamber building played an important role in the preparation for the Games.
In addition to recruiting major companies and organizations to metro Atlanta, the turn of the 21st century was an important time in driving Georgia’s business-friendly environment. In 2003, the Metro Atlanta Chamber was instrumental in changing Georgia’s state flag and saving Grady Memorial Hospital.
In recent years, MAC has provided leadership for transportation funding, led the Clean Water Initiative, and the fight to defeat religious exemption legislation to defend Georgia’s reputation as the #1 state in the U.S. for business.
Today, with the move to its new headquarters, 191 Peachtree Tower, the Metro Atlanta Chamber serves as a catalyst for a more vibrant and prosperous region. Its vision is to position Atlanta as a top tier global region through job growth, advocacy for a business-friendly environment, and attraction and retention of a dynamic workforce.