“There are many roads that would not have been built, bridges that would not have been improved, and public buildings that would not have been funded without the Melbourne Regional Chamber’s leadership.”
– Bill Potter, 2019 William R. “Bill” Ellis Legacy Award Recipient
ALMOST 100 YEARS OLD
This Chamber was founded in 1925 and chartered under the name of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce. Interestingly enough, like most Chambers of that decade (See History of Chambers), we were formed for the specific purpose of attracting new industry. And, not just any industry…
The founders had their eye on a particular statewide event that had gained national attention at its debut the year before. So, they formed the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce to attract and host the Florida Frolics and Beauty Review. Melbourne Chamber of Commerce founders were successful in their bid, winning the rights to host the 2nd Annual Florida Frolics and Beauty Review in Melbourne, Florida in 1925. The economic boom that the event attracted allowed the Chamber to grow rapidly as tourist flocked to the area for years to see the place “where it all happened.”
HOME OF ASTRONAUTS, DESTINATION OF PRESIDENTS
The Space Coast has been the home of astronauts since the inception of the space program. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy set out the ambitious goal of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth within a decade.” In the years that followed, the Space Coast was integral to making that goal a reality when Neil Armstrong, having taken off from Brevard County’s Kennedy Space Center, took “a giant step for mankind” into the Sea of Tranquility on the surface of the moon.
The Apollo 11 mission is but one of many heroic missions that has taken off over the years from the Space Coast, which was also the launching point for NASA’s space shuttle program and is home to Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, as well. Along with supporting these missions, the Space Coast has long been fertile ground for the growth of groundbreaking technology companies – large and small – in the private sector. These companies have been partners in making our local schools some of the very best in the Sunshine State in order to help attract qualified candidates for the many high skilled jobs in the area.
The Melbourne region has also been a favorite destination of U.S. Presidents. On a very warm day in June 1987, President Ronald Reagan visited the Melbourne Regional Airport (now known as the Orlando Melbourne International Airport) to address the business community. In September 2012, President Barack Obama made a visit to the Clemente Center on the campus of Melbourne’s private doctoral/research university, the Florida Institute of Technology. In November 2012, former President Bill Clinton visited the Palm Bay campus of Brevard Community College (now Eastern Florida State College), where he was joined by Melbourne High School graduate U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who spoke about NASA’s successful efforts to create a new generation of spacecraft following the retirement of the shuttle fleet. In February 2017, President Donald Trump returned to Orlando Melbourne International Airport, after making a prior campaign stop at the same location several months before, and opened with, “It is so great to be here in Florida, my second home, with you. This is a state I truly love.”