Chamber History

Incorporation March 15, 1915
From the Corporate Charter Application
To Lewis G. Stevenson, Secretary of State

“We, THE UNDERSIGNED, Louis J. Yeoman, T.H. Durst and H.C. Burnett, citizens of the United States of America, propose to form a corporation (not for pecuniary profit) under an act of the General Assembly of the State of Illinois entitled “AN ACT CONCERNING CORPORATIONS” approved April 18, 1872, and all acts amendatory thereof; and that for the purpose of such organization we hereby state as follows:

(1) The name of such corporation is “WAUKEGAN COMMERCIAL ASSOCIATION”

(2) The object for which it formed is, to create and maintain cooperation which will safe-guard and promote trade, industry and commerce of the City of Waukegan, and County of Lake in the State of Illinois, to diffuse accurate and reliable information as to the resources of said City and County for the better promotion of the public interest of the City of Waukegan and the County of Lake.”

25th Year Highlights – 1940

  • All chamber meetings were held at the Karcher Hotel.
  • The Executive Committee of the Board met every Monday over lunch.
  • Community Chest organized (today: United Way of Lake County).
  • Newly formed National Defense Committee organized to formulate plans for the protection of local industry from sabotage and implement policy of general matters of defense.
  • Waukegan was considered as the site for the present Glenview Naval Air Station and an aeronautical assembly plant.

50th Year Highlights – 1965

  • Downtown Waukegan Council, Belvidere Road, and Washington Street organized and formalized.
  • Plans organized for the first referendum to establish the College of Lake County.
  • Presented the first Life Membership awards.
  • Organized the “Chamber Ambassadors” for retired business executives.
  • First discussion for a Music Center of Lake County for improving the cultural life of Lake County.
  • Building committee considered the Waukegan Library on Sheridan Road as possible office location.

75th Year Highlights – 1990

  • The Chamber of Commerce building, often referred to as “The Little White House,” a registered historical landmark building is featured on the Waukegan Vehicle License in recognition of the chamber’s 75th anniversary.
  • Chamber maintains national accreditation status since 1976. The first and only local chamber accredited in Lake County Illinois.
  • Publishes an illustrated history of Lake County, Illinois, celebrating the 150th anniversary of its incorporation.
  • Designated as an Associate Office of the United States Department of Commerce and Small Business Resource Center by the Small Business Administration.
  • 100Th Year Highlights – 2015
  • Forecast Lake County Luncheon held at Independence Grove, Libertyville. Tradition of annual economic presentation by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  • Centennial Annual Dinner held at Waukegan Yacht Club to honor the chamber’s original home.
  • Hispanic Chamber affiliate hosts its annual scholarship dinner gala at Doubletree by Hilton in Mundelein, providing assistance to qualified students pursuing college educations.
  • Chamber hosts Legislative Forum Breakfast at Holiday Inn, Gurnee, offering the business community opportunity to gain current information from state and federal elected representatives.