The Tulare Chamber Commerce exists to serve its members and citizens by advocating for, and engaging in, efforts to encourage economic opportunity and business prosperity. For more than 130 years, The Tulare Chamber of Commerce and its predecessor, the Tulare Board of Trade, have played a vital role in the community's ability to survive adversity and develop into the dynamic city that we know today.
The Board of Trade was informally organized in 1884. Records from this time do not exist today because of the 1886 fire. On March 2, 1887 the Board of Trade was formally organized with by-laws and officers elected.
In the 1890's the Board of Trade helped soften the economic blow wreaked on the town when Southern Pacific Railroad moved its division headquarters and machine shops from Tulare. Facing the loss of many jobs, civic leaders organized through the Board of Trade in order to find ways to mitigate the economic impact of the loss of the railroad.
Leaders of the Board of Trade once again helped save the town from disaster a few years later when the Tulare Irrigation District defaulted on bond payments. Water bonds were sold in 1889 to raise money for construction of an irrigation system that would bring water to the area, thereby making it possible to farm the land. When a nation-wide depression hit a few years later, the Tulare Irrigation District defaulted on the bond payments, and it looked once again like the town might not survive.
The Board of Trade appointed a committee to track down bond-holders from around the world and negotiate a settlement. Once the settlement was reached, Board of Trade leaders were able to persuade residents to pay a one-time tax of $0.36 per $1.00 of land value to pay off the debt, and a celebratory bond burning ceremony was held.
The Board was also instrumental in the development of Tulare as the dairy capital of the nation, forming a creamery committee in 1901 which led to the first creamery located in the area.
In 1962, the Chamber sold the fairgrounds to the State for $200,000 and formed The Greater Tulare Foundation to oversee the proceeds, which were earmarked for industrial and economic development purposes. Over the years, the Foundation has helped to develop Tulare Industrial Park and has loaned and granted hundreds of thousands of dollars to projects that benefit the community.