01 Apr 3. What is Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Nearly 2000 years ago Gaius Pinius Secundus (Pliny) a Roman Author, naturalist and natural philosopher uttered the immortal words “Home is where the Heart is”. Pliny had no idea his words would become embedded in our minds 2 millennia later as an oft quoted saying in all circles of life.
Pliny was right; home is where it all starts and where ripples of our existence expand and enlarge as they filter through to our community. With currently 5000 homes and the promise of 2500 additional houses to be built, Gillingham is growing at an alarming pace. With growth comes infrastructure and with that, membership of a community that is larger than just the individual.
Gillingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry is one of a number of local organisations working together and supporting important cohesion within our town. Nearly 100 businesses are members of this important group who, with their knowledge and expertise offer a great deal back to the community. Not many people realise they are in existence but they have been at the heart of both community and business since the 1930s.
Initially led by Mr Evan Down of Oake, Woods & Co (the bacon factory), the group of 12 men running High Street businesses came together to help commerce in the town. Bringing more trade and people to the town brought more people to make their homes here. The school grew, doctors increased in numbers, churchgoers flocked to their respective places of worship and businesses thrived. New traders arrived entrenching themselves within the boundaries of our town. More houses arrived and the ripples swelled.
Life is not so different today, a new generation of committee members from diverse and modern trades come together with traditional retailers and industries to deliver an almost imperceptible heart beat to the workings of the town. Gillingham Chamber members have supported the Christmas Lighting Festival, Gillingham in Gear, Bones Youth Club, and the Victoriana Fayre.
Chamber have been extremely integral with the development and subsequent use of the Town Meadow and campaigning for the reduction in parking charges. Involved intricately with the youth, Chamber championed the 500 celebrations of Gillingham School. They hosted Skillsfest bringing youngsters interested in finding out about apprenticeships, together with businesses keen to offer them or find out how they might be able to offer one. Chamber members were instrumental in the original drive to keep the youth foundation building from being closed down drawing on their expertise and knowledge of business machinations.
As the family builds to encompass more members so does the home extend its edges to include the wider community. As the community comes together to support and encourage each other so the town grows and thrives around the central core heartbeat. It is not just down to the members of Gillingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry listed below, or to the many partners and organisations we work with. It is the duty of each and every one of us as members of our community and our town to love and support the businesses therein. In that small gesture we build a community so strong that it not only survives but flourishes.