The City of Overland Park is one of the most desirable places to live and work in the U.S. and we are proud of our growing economy.
But that didn’t just happen.
In the 1960s Overland Park was a small community with a few retail businesses concentrated in the downtown area. That’s when a group of business leaders decided to create the professionally-run Overland Park Chamber of Commerce. According to current chamber president Tracey Osborne, the founding members’ decision to create a business-focused organization helped shape Overland Park into what it is today.
“They saw the Chamber as a way to grow the business community and enhance the overall quality of life in Overland Park,” said Osborne. “Even though the leadership has changed, we are proud to continue the vision and goals set forth by our founders 50 years ago.”
In the late-1980s, the Overland Park Chamber became the official economic development arm for the community. This meant a focus on creating jobs, both by retaining existing companies and attracting new ones from outside the region.
“One of our top priorities has been working with the city of Overland Park, Johnson County, and the school systems within them to create a community conducive to retention of people and attracting new jobs,” said Osborne. “We also collaborate with neighboring chambers to help make our community an attractive place to be.”
As a result of their work serving businesses and the community, the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce is a 5-star accredited Chamber with the United State Chamber of Commerce. To earn this distinction, chambers are evaluated on areas such as organization, public policy, and finances. Only 206 out of 7,000 chambers in the nation carry this distinction.
“We’ve made a significant investment in public policy and advocating on behalf of our members at the local, state, and federal levels,” said Osborne. “This creates a better business environment for everyone, and it’s propelled us to being one of the top chambers in the country.”
One of the most valuable benefits for members is monthly networking events, such as “Wednesday Wake-up” and “OP After Hours.” According to Osborne, it is a way to facilitate connections so people and businesses can find ways to collaborate.
“Our members are diverse, so we offer a menu of event options for them to network with each other,” said Osborne. “We help people make connections they would never have without the chamber, which means the value of the events is endless.”
After being in Building 12 in the Corporate Woods office park for several years, the Overland Park Chamber Foundation constructed Building 29 in 2000. It is one of only a few owner-occupied buildings in Corporate Woods. The Overland Park Chamber provides space for supporting organizations, such as “Visit OP,” and has additional offices to accommodate member small business meetings in their new building.
“Corporate Woods is well-known, both locally and across the nation,” said Osborne. “We love the ambiance of the woods, and being in the heart of Overland Park is the perfect location for us.”
In fact, the Chamber recently invested $500,000 in more renovations to their space. Upgrades to four existing conference rooms were made, and a fifth was added and named in honor of Ben Craig, one of the Chamber’s founders who passed away in 2016. According to Osborne, it’s a way of continuing the mission the Chamber was founded on half a century ago.
“Our founders were ahead of their time with a common vision that’s remained in place for 50 years,” said Osborne. “I hope when people look back on this moment in time, they see we’ve stayed true to those values and committed to making Overland Park a great place to be.”
To learn more about the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce, including member benefits and how your business can join, please visit their website or call (913) 491-3600.