The Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit organization of over 650 member-businesses and individuals dedicated to preserving and promoting economic and community development.
The Oxford Chamber of Commerce was organized in 1940.
Originally, the chamber’s purpose was to:
“..advance industrial expansion, livestock improvement, marketing, agricultural development, farm to market roads in every community in the county, the civic interest of Oxford and Lafayette county and beautification of public places and highways; to promote integrity and good faith; to acquire, preserve and distribute industrial, commercial and civic statistics and information of value; to work for the best interest of every person in Lafayette County; and to cooperate in representing our city and county in the promotion of every enterprise for the development of our state and nation.”
The Constitution and By-Laws Committee consisted of:
H. McElroy, Chairman
John Lee Gainey
L. Smallwood, Jr.
Mrs. Hazel Shelton
Since the late forties, the president position has been filled consecutively each year. There have been 2 Avents, 2 Elliotts, 3 Phillips. Current Rotarians who are past presidents include Johnny Morgan, Jesse Phillips, Sherwin Haynie, Vicki Sneed, Harry Sneed, John Fullenwider, and Randy Leister. Past Executive Directors are Bob McClain, Col Hoar, Col. Baker, Garner Devoe, and Lou Zender. The offices have been housed in Law Offices, the alley off Rebel Press, The Bank of Oxford, The Baker Building, and its current Headquarters on Jackson Avenue West.
In the Early years, the Chamber spearheaded such things as the bond issue election which brought Chambers Range here, Emerson Electric, Georgia Pacific, and in many cases partnering with the local banks to buy and sell land in the name of the Chamber of Commerce to facilitate transfers.
Current Mission Statement
The Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber shall undertake those programs and projects which improve the quality of life of our area. By seeking a positive business climate conducive to the growth of our private enterprise system, raising per capita income and providing strong financial, physical and human resources, we create a better life for all our citizens.
The functions of the Chamber have not changed much through the years. The Chamber operates to support local businesses and improve the quality of life for citizens in Oxford and Lafayette County. This may be through seminars, focused events, leadership programs, or other means. Dues for a business membership have gone up from $26 per year to a base of $200 per year. A strong economy is at our basic business, same as it was in 1940. Today, the Chamber uses the internet and interactive videos to tell our story, as well as dispersing information instantaneously through a website, social media and e-mail.
The Chamber has grown from a small group of businesses to nearly 750 members. The staff has grown from a volunteer president in his office to a staff of 5 full-time employees who respond to thousands of annual inquiries in the form of phone calls, walk-ins, letters, web-requests, and e-mails.
In the early 1980’s the Chamber recognized that they could not be competitive in the economic development arena without a budget which would allow them to compete for industry. The Industrial Foundation was borne about 1981 and the city and county contributed to the economic development efforts. In 1992, a new organization, the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation was formed which is a larger, more formal organization, utilizing public-private partnership to fund the economic development efforts of the community.
Additionally, the Economic Development Foundation and Chamber staffs have been combined for everyday efficiency and for routine matters common to both functions.