Celebrate the Chamber's 75th Anniversary

South Carolina Chamber of Commerce Celebrates 75 Years


By Penny Delaney Cothran, APR

How many thousands of years does it take to create a diamond? Heat plus pressure plus time makes a jewel coveted by all. South Carolina herself is a jewel, one of the original thirteen. It took a mere 75 years for the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce to help place that jewel in the crown of achievement and development, making our state the envy of all in the Southeast.

The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce has remained true to its mission cultivating a healthy business environment in the state. Let’s take a look back at the accomplishments of the State Chamber over the years.


1940 The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce is chartered on August 6 under the name “Organized Business, Inc.” D.A. Skinner is the first executive officer until he leaves the state chamber to head the Chamber of Commerce of the United States.

1948 Organized Business Inc. changes its name to South Carolina State Chamber of Commerce.

1950 John C. Floyd becomes general manager of the Chamber for 16 years.

1954 SC Chamber spearheads legislation called the Right to Work Law.

1956 SC Chamber creates an Industrial Relations Department to promote sound personnel practices in industrial plants and “to strengthen the labor/management relationship so as to eliminate the conditions that cause unrest.” A full time director is hired named Macon P. Miller. He goes on to head the Chamber 10 years later as its third chief executive.

1971 John G. Riddick was named executive vice president and built a new, two-story home for the SC Chamber at the corner of Calhoun and Park Streets in Columbia. The mortgage was paid in full by his retirement in 1979.

1972 “State” is dropped from the name, and it’s known simply as South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.

1978 SC Chamber helps the South Carolina State Development Board pitch South Carolina as the goose that lays the golden egg in a long running advertising campaign.

1979 Lowell Reese becomes executive vice president, moving from the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

1980 SC Chamber moves from Columbia’s “Association Row” to the fifth floor of the Bankers Trust Tower located opposite the SC Statehouse.

1980 SC Chamber forms its Public Policy Committee with the tagline “Let’s Talk Politics for Free Enterprise.”

1981 South Carolina ranks number 3 in the nation in business climate. SC boasts a per capita income gain of 154 percent over the previous decade from $2,767 to $7,027.

1982 SC Chamber’s mission is to “preserve economic freedoms to advance human progress.”


1989 Business community rallies around Charleston after Hurricane Hugo to keep the tourism industry afloat.

1992 Hunter Howard Jr. becomes the president and CEO

1998 Paula Harper Bethea becomes chairman (and serves for two terms) and takes on the contentious issue of eliminating video poker. She is the chamber’s first female chairperson.

1999 Chamber calls for the removal of the Confederate Flag from atop the statehouse dome

1999 Chamber partners with High Performance Partnerships program which matches companies with the poorest performing schools in the state. Today, SCANA dedicates its resources to the Chamber’s Homework Centers in 16 schools throughout the SCE&G service area.


1999 High Performance Partnerships (HPP)/South Carolina Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs 

(GEAR UP) I grant awarded

2005  South Carolina Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) II grant awarded

2005 Chamber plays an active role in pushing through the EEDA, also known as the Personal Pathways to Success, an education act that bridged the gap between academic and career readiness for all students, regardless of their college plans.

2008 Otis B. Rawl Jr. becomes the president and CEO


2011  South Carolina Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) III grant awarded

2014  South Carolina Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) student Vanessa Madrid became the National GEAR UP Youth of the Year

2014 Ted Pitts becomes president and CEO

2015 South Carolina Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) cumulative in-kind donations reach over $46 Million

2015 Chamber locks arms with policy leaders in removing the Confederate Flag from the Statehouse grounds to a new home in a S.C. museum