107 years making history
The Medellin-Antioquia Chamber of Commerce opened its doors at the dawn of the 20th century and since then its own history is linked to the history of trade and industry of Antioquia. This centennial organization was incorporated due to a request made by the most important business community of Antioquia through an executive decree signed on November 28, 1904 by Colombia’s President back then, Rafael Reyes.
The Chamber began with 40 businessmen of Medellin, including Carlos E. Restrepo, Ricardo Olano, Alejandro Echavarría, José María Jaramillo, Carlos Vásquez, Antonio Echavarría and José Medina, among others, who met on January 23, 1905 in the hall of the Department Assembly, to choose a Board of seven principal members, and their corresponding alternates. This meeting was chaired by Benito Uribe Gómez, the governor of Antioquia back then.
The first Board meeting was held on January 25, 1905, chaired by Mr. Miguel Vásquez, while Mr. Januario Henao was appointed the Secretary.
Early on, the primary purpose of the Chamber was to advocate business prosperity and business development; to serve as an Advisory Board of the Government for the improvements and reforms related to trade, industry and public treasury; and to serve the trade tribunal to act as an arbitrator and amicable referee of the issues submitted to its ruling.
During the first years, the Chamber analyzed the national and local economic problems. Later, it created commissions led by eminent professionals and business persons, and to issue very sound opinions on the development of the region and Colombia.
107 year contributing to the development of Colombia
The Chamber was particularly interested in matters relative to the construction of the Antioquia Railroad system, the transportation of products through the Magdalena River, the delay of the mail system, custom rates, the effect of the war of Europe on the region’s economy, and coinage, the exports of gold, and the distribution of the bills submitted to Congress that had an effect on the region’s trade and industrial activities.
During World War I (1914-1918) most of the Chamber’s focus was on the drop of the exchange rate in the Colombian market which was caused by the flee of gold through the Barranquilla customs, according to economic authorities.
A commission of the Medellin Chamber of Commerce played a pivotal role nationwide towards aiding on this transcendental issue for Colombia.
During the 20’s, the Chamber turned to transportation and the problems of the railroad system, mail, telegraph and customs. The President of the Chamber back then, Lázaro Tobón, pointed out that the Chamber was the official body of the different commercial branches before the national Government. Back then, this body had $882 pesos of its own and $30 pesos contributed by the department of Antioquia available. The business community also contributed a generous amount.
During the 20’s, national regulations are issued relative to the organic law of the stamped paper tax and, the negotiable taxes law, the education on trade, and the la won the restrictive force of the national budget.
With effectiveness as the goal, the State vested on the chambers of commerce of Colombia in 1931 the role of handling the Commercial Register System, and later, in 1993, the administration of the Proposers Form (RUP) (1993) and the Register of Non-Profit Organizations (1995).
During this time, the Medellin Chamber served 59 municipalities of the department of Antioquia.
A build that matches its image
Having its own building was a huge achievement. The construction of the current building of the Chamber of Commerce began in 1972, and was inaugurated on October 25, 1977, after experiencing serious financial difficulties. The building was completed thanks to the cooperation of the Comercial Antioqueño y Central Hipotecario banks.
The building exhibits a mural painting of Pedro Nel Gómez, one of the largest pictorial works size-wise made by this painter from Antioquia. This work shows the economic history of Antioquia, beginning with images of male and female coffee-growers (known as “chapoleras”), leading to the mining, cattle-raising activities, to national heroes, up to the Guatape Hydroelectric Power Station which is a monumental work built by engineers of Antioquia.
In 1984, the Chamber built the Building of Culture, which hosts the 95.9 Cámara FM radio station; a leader in the cultural setting which will be celebrating its 30th uninterrupted anniversary soon.
The Building of Culture also hosts exhibition halls, and spaces for sculptures which have shown the remarkable works of local, national and international artists.
The support provided by the Medellin-Antioquia Chamber of Commerce to different cultural manifestations indeed confirms that the Chamber is an organization that bets on the future and works hard to build social networks, which are pivotal to reach sustainable development.