Rewind & Fast Forward: Your Chamber is Always a Step Ahead

Flipping through the pages of the past 50 years – physically and metaphorically – it’s astonishing how much has changed. The seeds of the Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce were planted at one of the most pivotal times in history. 

It’s also astonishing how much faith our 1973 business leaders had in pursuing the undertaking of developing the Meadowlands into the economic engine it is today. It took a lot of faith for environmentalists, too, at that time, to think the swamps could be returned to nature. 

That everyone worked together, and it actually worked … well, we now have Snowy Owls and Bald Eagles across the way from the highest Ferris wheel on the East Coast. Nature and business reside and succeed. 

In 1973, the region, state, country and world were on the cusp of great change – societal, technological and economic. It was a time when the first mobile phone call was made, and the World Trade Center opened in Manhattan. 

The Meadowlands area was rising from the landfills and swamps in 1973, the center of a new master plan for economic and environmental harmony. In 50 years, the plans and roadmaps have been revamped and revisited and changes made to meet unforeseen challenges. 

But the end goal of the MC has never wavered in 50 years –  to connect and advocate for businesses in the region. Reflecting on the past 50 years, a lot of things have come and gone, and while so much has changed, so much is the same.

We are making a big deal out of our 50th anniversary in 2023 for good reason….it is a BIG DEAL! I have been sifting through archived photos from the ’70s through today and the mission of the MC is stronger than ever in my mind. 

I think all of us (me included) unintentionally take the important role the Chamber plays in economic development, advocacy, relationship building, community strengthening and even personal development.

I see it in those old photos. Members and businesses that started back then are now some of the most prominent companies in New Jersey and in some cases, the world! Think about companies like Goya Foods, whose products are sold globally and whose humble beginnings and corporate HQ is right here in the Meadowlands.  

Hartz Mountain Industries, Hackensack Meridian Health, J Fletcher Creamer & Sons, Russo Development, Sanzari Construction, MWW, Forsgate Industrial Properties, Langan Engineering, WSP, and the list goes on and on! These long standing MC members who have built incredible companies employing tens of thousands of local residents makes us proud!

As we celebrate the past 50 years at every event in 2023, we are also looking ahead to continue the Chamber’s legacy as a business trailblazer in the Meadowlands. The Chamber of the past always looked ahead while staying present and keeping history in mind. 

We celebrate and pay tribute to those who started our organization as we learn from their experiences, forecast new directions and pump up the volume for what’s next. Celebrating the “5-0” means we appreciate and embrace our past to help us march onward toward an even better MC. The future is one with bold new ideas that will lead to great developments and outcomes while we also help build strong businesses and local communities. 

Please enjoy the history of our proud organization – it’s pretty remarkable! The timeline covers the major milestones from 1973 until now. We have first hand stories from those who were here at the beginning and throughout the years. We list the names of every single president and chair – there is no Chamber without these people.

This is what “50” means to me!

Jim Kirkos is the President & CEO of the Meadowlands Chamber, whose mission is to accelerate economic, community and business development by providing its membership with networking & relationship building opportunities; destination & tourism marketing services; business education and leadership training; legislative and public affairs advocacy, and workforce development initiatives to businesses of all sizes across all industry sectors throughout the Meadowlands region.