Happy Birthday to the Loomis Basin Chamber of Commerce Incorporated June 26, 1959 -On April 13, 1909, 110 years ago, a group of business owners met to organize a regional chamber of commerce. Inaugural chamber members discussed how to raise more funds and whether the town’s dirt roads should be sprinkled
oiled to minimize dust.
The town has greatly changed since then, from paving its
roads to implementing development projects.
However, the role and mission of the chamber remains
Then as now, members of the town’s various businesses
meet to discuss what they can do to make Loomis a better
place to live.
“It’s always been a sounding board for the community and
any of the concerns of the residents or the businesses, and
we are an avenue for where they can go to address concerns,”said Mary Jane Perkins, former chamber president
and member for 46 years.
The Loomis Basin Chamber of Commerce became a
state-recognized body 60 years ago in 1959, with 45 pledged
members. It spent decades without a permanent office that
met wherever the president of the time either worked or
lived, according to Chamber Executive Director Jenny Knisley.
Sherri Edgar, who served as chamber president from 1985
to 1987, recalls when the chamber had neither a brick-and mortar office or staff. Up until the 1990s, Knisley said the
chamber was staffed only by volunteers.
Now, the chamber boasts approximately 200 members, is
staffed by Knisley full time, and has been based out of its
building on Horseshoe Bar Road since 2007.
“In order to adapt to the ever-changing business environment,
the chamber has grown and evolved to meet the
needs of its members and the community,” Knisley said.
Along with its permanent location, the chamber has spent
the last few decades implementing events and projects
that have become irreplaceable fixtures for the town.
During Edgar’s tenure as president in the mid-‘80s, the
the chamber worked to implement the Loomis Day Before
Thanksgiving Parade and the annual Christmas tree decorations in downtown Loomis.
In 2017, the chamber implemented the Loomis Legacy Loop
project, a self-guided tour that takes participants to various
locations throughout the town. It features murals of fruit
crate labels that showcase the town’s agricultural history.
The Loomis Basin Chamber of Commerce will also spend
its 32nd year organizing the popular Eggplant Festival,
scheduled for Oct. 5. The one-day festival and street fair
offers arts and crafts, entertainment, contests and multiple
food vendors to celebrate the fruit and the town’s agricultural
Edgar said one of the chamber’s most important roles is in
the preservation of history and connecting new community
members and businesses with the town’s “old-timers.”
That is especially true for Knisley, who said the chamber
is looking toward the future while working to preserve the
town’s rich history and its small-town character.
This year, Knisley is helping organize the first State of the
Town address to be held April 3 and is also organizing a
chamber leadership program.
“We’ve always been a champion of the town and a connector
between the community, its leaders and its businesses,”
By Kathryn Palmer The Loomis News | photos are courtesy Loomis Basin Chamber of Commerce Loomis