The Melbourne Regional Chamber, originally founded as the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce, was established in 1925 with the goal of attracting new industry to Brevard County, specifically the City of Melbourne.
First up for the Chamber was to bring in the second annual Florida Frolics and Beauty Review. Within months of being chartered, the Chamber successfully won the bid for the Review and brought in the huge tourist attraction.
That early success allowed the Chamber and the region to grow rapidly. With an increased presence and staff, the Chamber continued to grow.
By 1961 the Chamber and its members were instrumental in bringing NASA to the region.
The MRC doesn’t have any official boundaries; however, the unofficial area is a semicircle starting just south of Jacksonville in the north through Orlando in the west to just north of West Palm Beach in the south.
That’s where most of the Chamber’s member businesses reside, though many also operate or have offices outside of that area.
In 2010, the Chamber was accredited by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a 5-Star Chamber; the certification was renewed in 2015, and progress is being made to retain the certification in 2020. The recognition makes the Melbourne Regional Chamber sit in the top 1% of Chambers in the country, according to the national organization.
Marj Bartok, a former chair of the board of directors for the Chamber, and longtime member said the organization has a strong history of helping businesses and non-profits in the region.
Bartok has been a Chamber member for 25 years and grew her business with help from the MRC along the way.
“I joined the Chamber in 1994,” she said. “That was one of the first things I did when I bought my business.”
Bartok felt strongly about being a member, and her staffing company, Spherion Staffing, was able to grow faster due to help from the Chamber.
She sold her business last year, but remains an active member of the Chamber, as do the new owners of the company.
“I knew that it would be very helpful to my business to be involved in the Chamber,” Bartok said. “I was asked to be on the board several years after I joined and served as chair in 2004.”
She said she helped the MRC grow through challenges that were unique to the time she served. Bartok said she helped push for a membership initiative to grow the Chamber.
Bill Potter served two terms as president of the MRC, in separated decades. He’s seen a lot of change over his nearly 50 years as a Chamber member.
There were five different Chambers when he first joined the MRC in the 1960s, Potter noted, and by 1967 they all consolidated to have a broader approach with more power.
“The Chamber was really the leader of bringing about the merger of the cities of Melbourne and Eau Gallie in 1969,” he said. “I’m convinced if those cities didn’t merge most of the other economic successes we’ve had wouldn’t have occurred.”
His first term was in 1974 when he said business growth and the economy in the city was bad.
“The Chamber helped with recruiting new businesses, and retraining employees to serve those industries,” he said.
That was the year Harris Corporation moved from Cleveland to Melbourne, which helped the region to get back on the right track, Potter added. He served again as director more than a decade later.
“The economy was pretty strong by then,” he said. “The Chamber has been a huge impact on the local economy and growth.”
Potter said his law firm was helped specifically by being able to meet many influential people from the region at various Chamber events.
Today MRC membership reflects the vibrant mix of major corporations, dynamic entrepreneurs and nonprofit entities, which makes the Space Coast a good place to live and grow a business.
The MRC is home to our region’s leaders, job-creators, and all sectors of the local economy – including health care, professional services, real estate, construction, restaurants, tourism, retail, entertainment, home services, government, transportation, charities and the aforementioned technology industry.
“The Melbourne Regional Chamber allows nonprofit businesses like Candlelighters of Brevard to share our story and mission with countless businesses, donors and organizations throughout Brevard County. They provide opportunities, forums and seminars that teach our sector how to provide return on investment and measurable results for those we serve and to the donors that invest.”
— Natasha Duran Executive Director
Candlelighters of Brevard
“The key to our success was showing up to as many chamber events as possible throughout the years. What does our Chamber membership mean to us? Everything – the ROI is second to none!”
— Geraldine Blanchard President
Global Tours and Travel, Inc..
“The Chamber has helped us grow by expanding our network and helped us find great mentors.”
— Kyle Graham, M.B.A, Owner
Millefiori Medical Skin Rejuvenation
We consider our chamber membership an investment – one that reaps a consistent and enviable ROI for our airport,
our passengers and our tech titan tenants.”
— Jack L. Ryals
CCIM National Realty and Chairman,
Melbourne Airport Authority
Jumping right in as a new member of the Chamber has opened many doors to new business and community influence.”
— Gary H. Neal, P.E., Vice President
Florida East Coast M.E. Construction Inc.