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Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce History

It all started with the enthusiasm of a group of Petoskey area businessmen who gathered for lunch at the Elks Club on a blustery January day in 1920. The object of their excitement was a man by the name of J. frank Quinn who had just arrived in town from Pennsylvania to become the first executive secretary of the newly organized Petoskey Chamber of Commerce.

A one-time Grand Rapids business owner, Quinn’s resume included Chamber experience in Grand Rapids, St. Joseph and Warren, Pennsylvania, as well as government work in Washington, D.C. during WWI. His acceptance of the Petoskey position was clearly a coup for the fledgling Chamber.

After lunch was had, Chamber President George W. McCabe rose and introduced Quinn who according to an account of that day in the next day’s edition of the Petoskey Evening News “spoke with conviction of the fine spirit of cooperation and confidence with which he has met on every hand since coming to Petoskey.”

The following week, Quinn set up shop in an office on Howard Street and thus inaugurated Petoskey’s first professionally-run Chamber of Commerce.

“Obviously there has been much change over the years,” said Carlin Smith, current President of the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce. “But one things has not changed. I think the Chamber can boast the exact same “spirit of cooperation and confidence that it did when it was created more than 90 years ago.”

The idea of forming a Chamber of Commerce materialized in the spring of 1919 when some 150 business owners and community leaders gathered for a banquet at Elks Hall. McCabe was elected temporary president of the initiative and a board was named including; John Galster, George Danser, B.H. Cook, George Rice, Morgan Curtis, W.G. McCune, Alick Rosenthal, B.H. Halstead, Charles Levinson, J.E. Bain, H.F. Beese, Charles McCarthy and John A. Lake.

Committees were formed and memberships were solicited. By the time the Chamber office opened its doors in 1920, over 130 Chamber members had signed up. Eight of those charter members are still in business today. They include:

  • Jesperson's Restaurant
  • McCune-Smith Real Estate, Inc.
  • Michigan Maple Block Company
  • Chase - Petoskey
  • Fifth Third Bank of Petoskey
  • Petoskey News-Review
  • Preston Feather Building Centers
  • Reusch Jewelers
Growth continued over the years. In 1960 the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce started a close working relationship with the Harbor springs Area Chamber of Commerce. That relationship continues today. Because of the growth, the Harbor Springs Chamber hired its own executive director in 1992. Today the two chambers have a combines membership of about 1,100 businesses.
“From the very start, the Chamber was an able and willing booster for area businesses,” said Smith. “During the past 90 years we have see our role steadily expand to the point where today the Chamber stands as one the community’s most active and progressive organizations. This is a record of accomplishment of which we can be very proud.”


Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce
401 East Mitchell Street · Phone: (231) 347-4150 · Fax: (231) 348-1810 ·
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