2021 marks the 150th anniversary of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. To honor this milestone, the Chamber brought together members, community leaders, and government officials from across the region for a special 150th Anniversary Celebration event on Feb. 4. The event celebrated the Chamber’s history, path forward, and paid tribute to Chambers members who are the heart of the organization.

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Jerry Sanders, President and Chief Executive Officer, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce

“The work the Chamber does is possible because of our members. That was true at our organization’s founding in 1870, and we felt it even more so over the last year as we were presented with unforeseen challenges both professional and personal, our members served as our guide to navigate an unpredictable year,” said Jerry Sanders, Chamber President and CEO.

Transforming the Region

From raising funds to purchase land for what is now the Naval Training Center in 1918, leading bond drives in the 1950s to develop Mission Bay Park and UC San Diego, to more recently supporting the SDSU West initiative in 2018 and launching the groundbreaking All Our Talent initiative in 2020, the Chamber’s history includes some of the region’s most visionary and transformative regional projects. This history and the Chamber’s vision were showcased during the Anniversary Celebration event along with the stories of member businesses that have been the foundation of the organization for 150 years.

“We are continuing to build on the foundation of member support by providing the information, tools, and resources that will help our business community recover, rebuild, and most importantly continue to be America’s Finest City for 150 years and beyond,” Sanders said.

2021 Board Chair Neil Mohr, General Manager of Republic Services, and the entire Board of Directors were officially appointed at the event by Mayor Todd Gloria.

“I believe that the work of the Chamber is more important now than ever,” said Mohr. “As we come out of this pandemic and continue our economic recovery, businesses need to know where to turn for guidance and leadership, and especially connection with fellow business owners. The Chamber is equipped with the expertise and supporting programs to help our business community navigate a successful future.”

Agenda for 2021

The Chamber’s work over the next year will focus on guiding the business community’s recovery from the pandemic. This includes continued work on the “Back in Business” initiative, a guide for long-term economic recovery where lessons learned are being put into action with smart policies that will keep the region moving forward. Through Back in Business, the Chamber is communicating with businesses, and also with policy makers, to identify short, mid, and long term strategies for recovery.

The Chamber will also continue work to advance gender equity on boards and commissions through the All Our Talent initiative. This will include a new board readiness training program through Chamber affiliate LEAD San Diego, to further help prepare women throughout the region to assume board leadership roles.

During the event, State Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Senator Brian Jones, on behalf of San Diego’s delegation of Senators and Assemblymembers, presented a resolution honoring the Chamber’s milestone anniversary. San Diego City Council President Dr. Jen Campbell also presented the Chamber with a proclamation from the City Council commemorating the organization’s history and declaring February 4, 2021 as “San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Day” in the city.

Honors for Martinez, TOOTRiS, UC San Diego

The Chamber presented three awards during the event in recognition of those who have made a difference in the community and represent what makes San Diego unique. This year’s awardees are:

Lidia S. Martinez, retired Manager, Community Outreach & Grassroots, Southwest Airlines, is the recipient of the “Herb Klein Spirit of San Diego” award which honors someone who has made a significant and lasting impact on our region. In her more than 30 year career, Martinez has made an indelible positive impact on our communities through her leadership, community work, and philanthropic support of the less fortunate.

TOOTRiS On-Demand Child Care received the “Moving San Diego Forward” award which recognizes work that is improving San Diego, and putting it on the map. TOOTRiS is recognized for the company’s visionary use of technology to change the child care landscape and improve opportunities for working parents to access the child care they need.

University of California San Diego received the “Innovation in Crisis” award, a new award given for the first time this year to recognize the outstanding work of those in our region who stepped up in an innovative way to meet the need during the pandemic. UC San Diego was chosen for their pioneering work on large scale virus testing, vaccine trials, the vaccine super station, and community support.

Representing Local Businesses

The San Diego Regional Chamber is the hub for connections and collaboration among the regional business community, and uses that clout to advocate for public policies and candidates that support economic growth and the creation of jobs for all businesses. As the largest local Chamber on the West Coast, representing more than 2,000 businesses and an estimated 300,000 jobs, the San Diego Regional Chamber is working to make the San Diego region the best place to live and work. For more information, please visit SDChamber.org or call 619-544-1300.