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Take A Trip Through 140 Years of Connecting Commerce & Creativity


In 1883, a group of business leaders joined together on Main Street in Lynchburg to organize the area’s very first chamber of commerce. The Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce began with just 50 members. Dues were set at $10 for individuals and $20 for businesses; adjusted for inflation that is equivalent to about $540 dollars today.

The Chamber’s first office was located at 135 Main Street. A building belonging to the Chamber’s first president, James T. Williams. Unfortunately, there are little surviving records from this period and no list of original members.


Pictured: At the top, a circa 1910 postcard shows a view of Main Street and below shows a photo taken nearly a century later on February 13, 2011.


On January 8th, 1884 the chamber released its very first annual report containing statistics and data on the economic health of the region, much the same as we share in our modern annual report today. 

Pictured: An excerpt from chamber President, Capt. Charles M. Blackford's annual report speech from Jan. 8, 1884.


Pictured: An 1891 Baist Map shows the downtown Lynchburg business district where the chamber of commerce had offices on Main Street.


President William Howard Taft established the U. S. Chamber of Commerce in 1912. The Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce was a founding member.

Pictured: Vice President of Membership Development, Heath Barret, stands in front of a plaque at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Building in Washington D.C. recognizing Lynchburg as one of the founding members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.


In the 1910's, the Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce saw the need for a luxury hotel in the region and also raised $300,000 needed to build it - The Virginian Hotel. The Virginian Hotel operated first from 1913 to 1968. In 2018, The Virginian Hotel completed a massive project to return the hotel to its former glory.

Pictured: The Virginian Hotel lobby as it appeared in 1913.


Pictured: A 1915 photograph of the Directors of the Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce.

Front Row: Randolph Harrison, O. B. Barker, Garland E. Vaughan, Charles G. Craddock, E. P. Miller, H. M. Sackett, Bransford B. Adams

Second Row: Harry Hirsch, John Stewart Walker, Walter E. Addison, Frank H. Almond, H. H. Harris, C. S. Adams, W. W. Dickerson, M. H. Dingee


In 1916, the Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce raised funds to buy the land for the Virginia Episcopal School alongside their founder, Dr. Robert Carter Jett.


The Chamber was instrumental in the establishment of the Lynchburg Glass Works which operated from 1918-1922 and as the Lynchburg Glass Corporation from 1923-1925. 

Pictured: The plant as it appeared in late 1922. View is from the northwest corner near the intersection of Ann and Hudson streets looking slightly southeast. The pole in left foreground holds a fire alarm call box. The sign on the office building has been edited in the photo for use in a later brochure.


In 1921, the Chamber and Home Economics Association worked to create the Lynchburg Community Chest, which evolved into the United Way of Central Virginia.

D.B. Ryland of the Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce helped coordinate this effort with Floyd Knight, Richard Hancock, R.A. Owen, R.T. Watts, Jr., Giles Miller and M.O. Carruthers. The first community campaign took place in 1922 and raised $85,825.


The Virginia Chamber of Commerce was established in 1925. The Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce was a founding member.


In 1928, the Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce hired the Technical Advisory Corporation of Wyckoff, New Jersey, to create an economic development plan for the Hill City. In February 1929, the Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce received the results of the study. The Lynchburg Industrial Survey, a lengthy work that had been in preparation for eight months, contained data and analysis that must have caused a stir among the Hill City’s business and political elite. The director of the Technical Advisory Corporation of Wyckoff, New Jersey, wrote, “We have rarely worked in a city where it was possible to draw what seemed to us to be more sharply defined conclusions.”

The study’s findings suggested impending challenges for The Hill City. “Lynchburg conditions are not satisfactory,” warned the first sentence of the Survey’s confidential preface. The statement continued, “There has been a moderately prolonged and moderately deep depression from which the city now seems to be recovering.”

By autumn, although the Great Depression had not hit Lynchburg’s economy full-force, citizens who had investments in the stock market experienced the fiscal pain that accompanied the closing days of October 1929.

*Sections annotated from On the Precipice: Lynchburg at the Dawn of the Great Depression by Jeffrey Cole.


In 1943, the Chamber moved to a suite on the 17th floor of the Allied Arts Building.

Pictured: The Allied Arts Building under construction in Lynchburg, Virginia - circa 1930.


Pictured: A 1946 travel brochure created by the Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce: "In Virginia it's Lynchburg".


In 1951, the Chamber raised $20,000 to build Eagle Eyrie Baptist Conference Center, a religious retreat center with a hotel, housing, meeting, and recreation facilities on Highway 501.

Pictured: The Eagle Eyrie mansion as it appeared on June 25, 1950.


In 1954, the Chamber raised money for the Lynchburg Baseball Club, now known as the Lynchburg Hillcats.

Pictured: An annotated copy of a photograph of the Lynchburg Cardinals team in 1955 taken by Gene Campbell studio. Each player has autographed original photograph and someone took a black pen and colored in writing near bottom of original photograph. They were a St. Louis Cardinal farm team in the old minor league Class B Piedmont League.


Pictured: This photo taken on April 4, 1957 shows Houston M. Crowder, seated at left, chatting with then-U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy when he spoke at the annual meeting of the Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce.


In an effort to renew interest in Riverside Park, the city came up with a plan for a new attraction. In the City of Lynchburg Annual Report for 1961-1962 a report states:

"Through the efforts of local citizens and the Chamber of Commerce, a steam locomotive donated by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Company, a passenger car donated by the Southern Railway Company, and a caboose donated by the Norfolk and Western Railway Company were placed in Riverside Park, comprising the first exhibits in an envisioned outdoor transportation museum."


In 1964, the Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce moved its location to Memorial Avenue, where we stayed for more than 50 years.


In 1969, the Chamber changed its name to the Greater Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce to demonstrate that it served the entire Central Virginia area.


Pictured: Pointing to the dangerous Garnet Street crossing of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway is A.B. Burton, a member of the Greater Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce task force which today began investigating the problems involving such crossings in the Lower Basin. Looking on are left to right: City Traffic Engineer Lowell H. Terry, Holcombe Hughes, task force member; Claude B. Duff Jr., division traffic manager for Lynchburg Foundry Co., and Braxton Knight, task force member.


The Chamber received accreditation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for the first time in 1973.


What began as an idea became the Leadership Lynchburg program in 1977 - designed to introduce newcomers to the area and to help leaders connect across their business sectors. The program got an overhaul in 2000 by reorganizing and creating an oversight Council and now touts a national award for its curriculum and community impact. The program has graduated over 1,250 alumni, many of which have gone on to serve in key leadership positions on the local and state level.


Pictured: Feb. 26, 1977 - Dr. Jerry Falwell, Liberty Baptist College chancellor, shows Thomas N. Waller of Greater Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce new campus plan as Dr. A. Pierre Guillerman looks on.


In 1980, the Chamber’s Highway and Transportation Task Force announced the opening of the new segment of the Route 460 bypass from Candler’s Mountain Road to Wards Road – a long held top priority of that committee.


In 1985, the Chamber created the Team 2000 Task Force, which eventually evolved into the Region 2000 program. The Chamber’s Technical Education Task Force also lobbied the Virginia General Assembly for the creation of the Center for Advanced Engineering to teach engineering programs to undergraduate students at Lynchburg College (which eventually moved to Central Virginia Community College).

The 90's

In the 1990’s the Chamber was instrumental in creating many community programs, including Crimestoppers, a local Small Business Development Center, Partners in Education, as well as Regional Renaissance, a public visioning process that involved the entire region. 

In 1993, the City of Lynchburg contracted with the Chamber to manage the Lynchburg Visitor Center.


In 2000, the organization changed its name to the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce to reflect its regional membership and priorities. The Chamber also formed the Committee to Advance the TransDominion Express and secured $9.3 million from the General Assembly to begin statewide passenger rail service.


In 2004, the Chamber merged with Sports Capital of Virginia, stabilizing the VA 10-Miler race as an organization at the time. As a result of years of fundraising efforts, the Chamber also presented checks to the City of Lynchburg and Lynchburg Hillcats for $407,000 for improvements to City Stadium.


The Alliance receives Five-Star Accreditation status from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for the first-time - the highest accreditation possible for a chamber of commerce and a level the Alliance continues to maintain every five years.


Honored with Grand Award from American Chamber of Commerce Executives for our magazine, Lynchburg Life. The Chamber was one of four in the nation to earn this communications achievement. The Alliance continues to produce this publication every year under the new name - Inside Lynchburg Region magazine.


Pictured: Jan. 9, 2013 - Lt. Governor Bill Bolling speaks to the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce about Virginia's K-12 education system and some of the initiatives that he and his office are pursuing for the General Assembly session.


Pictured: The former Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce building on Memorial Avenue in Lynchburg put up for sale in April 2014 after serving as our HQ for 50 years.


In January of 2016, the Alliance combined the business and economic development resources of the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Region 2000 Business and Economic Alliance into the new Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance known today.

In June of 2016, the Alliance purchased the former James River Conference Center to serve as the headquarters for the newly-formed Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance. The new building totaled 25,000 square feet, although the Alliance would use only about 9,000 square feet for its office space.

In January of 2017, the Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance contracted Atelier 11 Architects to design the future headquarters with L.G. Flint General Contractors selected to complete the project.


The Alliance has put a huge amount of effort into the redevelopment of the Central Virginia Training Center. The training center is located in Amherst County on 350 acres of land overlooking the James River and Downtown Lynchburg. Prior to closing in July of 2020, the site employed over 1,600 regional citizens and created a total regional impact of $87.1 million. The redevelopment plan aims to allow potential developers to reimagine the future of the training center, avoid social and economic challenges for the region, avoid leaving a potentially blighted area, and identify the best use of the training center to set up the site and region for economic prosperity.

Pictured: An aerial view of the Central Virginia Training Center in Madison Heights on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012.


The Alliance celebrates 140 years! We are proud of our role as the oldest and largest professional association in our region. We say thank you to all who have supported the organization through the years and we are ready to continue to serve our region with innovation, integrity, and passion for many years to come.