OP Chamber History
In January 1977, Chamber President Dick Molamphy told The Sun Newspapers the Chamber’s “number one priority is to present a strong voice of business in all of our programs at all three levels – city, county and state.” Your Board maintains that priority today, ensuring that your business voice is represented at all levels of government, with the addition of a strong federal agenda a number of years ago.
Dick was chosen to be the first professional leader of our Chamber in 1967. Ten years later, he was focused as ever on our original mission for our members and Overland Park – advocacy and economic development. “Our overall goal is good economic development – first, developing a good business element and secondly, the economic development of creating more jobs for its citizens, of maintaining an adequate tax base to finance the needed services for its citizens,” he said. He further noted that our success will be the expansion of the highway network along College Boulevard, Antioch and Quivira.
Thirty years ago this central core of our business community was just beginning its expansion. The year 1975 saw the celebration of the opening of Corporate Woods, Oak Park Mall and Highway 69. The expansion of our local infrastructure was crucial to the efficient and safe transport of residents, workforce and products throughout our region. In the ensuing years, this network with its short commute times has been one of the cornerstones of our growth and one of the factors often cited in the numerous national rankings awarded our community. Infrastructure has been a top agenda item for the Chamber since our founding.
Our cooperative efforts with our partners at the City of Overland Park, Kansas Department of Transportation, the Kansas Legislature, the business community and Overland Park’s voters have made possible new interchanges along the U.S. Highway 69 and Interstate-435 corridors and created a long-term capital improvements program for our neighborhood streets and thoroughfares.
Under Mary Birch’s leadership as president, we celebrated the opening of I-435 and Quivira’s interchange and elevated our mission of job creation to a new level with a formal partnership with the City of Overland Park through the establishment of the Overland Park Chamber Economic Development Council as a public/private partnership. In 1993 we broke new ground, becoming one of the first chambers of our size nationally to hire a full-time lobbyist to advocate on behalf of our members in Topeka.
The Chamber’s role, then as now, is focused on ensuring the business climate and infrastructure exists to foster job growth and economic vitality. Expansion of local companies and attraction of new business expands opportunity for our citizens and keeps the tax base balanced. Without these opportunities and sustainable resources, the quality of life that has been the benchmark of our success will erode.
The growth of our still relatively young community has been extraordinary, propelling us to become both the second-largest city in the Kansas City metro, as well as the second-largest city in Kansas in less than 60 years. According to the Sun article, Overland Park’s single family housing growth in the 70s led City Hall to anticipate issuance of 560 residential unit permits in 1977; Dick commented this would lead to a population increase of 1,000 for the year, which at that time boasted a population of 82,802. The growth rate is notable, as we anticipate an increase of just over 1,000 in population in 2017 over last year’s base of 189,450. We issued 414 single family and 809 multi-family permits last year.
We look forward to the growth ahead and what the future brings to Overland Park. While the faces around the table have changed through the years, along with the technology and tools available, we remain committed to our original mission of advocacy and economic development that provides focus on prosperity.
In 2017, the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce celebrated our 50th anniversary. While 1967 was our official birth year, the foundation was laid years earlier by a group of businessmen meeting on Saturdays for breakfast to talk about what they wanted their community to look like. They wanted good neighborhoods, schools and public services. To accomplish this, they knew they needed to build the city's tax base. The Chamber of Commerce came about as a catalyst to achieve that objective through its work unifying the business community and providing the leadership and vision to expand Overland Park into a community that consistently is ranked among the best in the nation.
In the over 50 years since our founding, the Chamber's and Overland Park's business community have grown substantially and our organization has diversified in its membership, programming and goals. We look back proudly at the achievements made in Overland Park since 1967 and recognize the many individuals whose commitment and vision have made our community what it is today.
Our thanks to the 50+ year support of these charter Chamber Members:
Bear & Bear Associates
Central Bank of the Midwest
Family Tree Nursery
Kansas Gas Service
McGilley & Hoge Johnson County Memorial Chapel
Memorial Events of Johnson County
Mize Houser & Company
Payne & Jones Chartered
Rau Construction Company
Security Bank of Kansas City
Shafer, Kline & Warren
Suburban Lawn & Garden
UMB Bank n.a.
More than 20 years ago, a group of leaders decided the Overland Park Chamber needed a permanent home. Since our founding in 1967, our office had been in several spaces including the once popular Glenwood Manor and Corporate Woods Building 12. Chamber leaders sought not just a home for our staff and a location for Board and committee meetings. They envisioned more than an office, but also a building that would provide space for our members to meet and for important community conversations to take place. And so many of you, along with numerous others, contributed to the campaign that built the Chamber Foundation Center, also known as Corporate Woods Building 29. We moved in, along with the Overland Park Convention & Visitors Bureau, in 2000.
Like our homes, buildings need maintenance and sometimes a little more. The Chamber and Foundation Boards in 2014 determined some serious upgrades were needed to maintain the original vision of the building, and so planning and fundraising began again. The first phase of renovations in 2015 brought installation of a new HVAC system. Phase two occurred in 2016-17 and included upgrades to conference spaces, the Chamber suite, and a new phone system. We renovated the first floor, expanding the Rau Conference Room and creating the beautiful glass-walled room honoring the leadership of Ben Craig sponsored by Central Bank of the Midwest. Learn more about our meeting spaces. Phase three in 2018 brought a fantastic upgrade to the Sunderland Foundation Terrace with the addition of new gathering space with a patio, firepit, new furniture and an outdoor charging station. In 2019, we celebrated the arrival of spring with the installation of new landscaping.
Why the upgrades? New space, new colors and new technology added efficiency for our team, tenants and visitors’ daily activities. We’ve also fulfilled the vision of the Chamber and Foundation Boards to upgrade our home so it’s always ready and available as the convener of community conversations. Many of you have held staff meetings or hosted seminars here. Our Leads Groups are meeting, creating lasting connections and exchanging meaningful prospects. Progress toward economic and quality of life goals are measured in committee meetings year-round.
We thank these individuals and organizations for contributing to the Business Forward Building Campaign to support the renovation of the Chamber Foundation Building in 2016-2019:
- Sunderland Foundation
- Central Bank of the Midwest
- Kansas City Power & Light
Conference Room Sponsors
- Rau Construction
- Black & Veatch
- Affinis Corp
- Bank of Blue Valley
- Children's Mercy Hospital
- Commerce Bank
- First National Bank
- JE Dunn Construction Company
- Lathrop & Gage LLP
- Oak Park Mall
- Oklahoma Wesleyan University
- PNC Bank, NA
- Wallace Saunders
Friends of the Foundation
- DLR Group
- Firebaugh Family Charitable Fund
- HNTB Corporation
- O'Donnell & Sons Construction
- OMNI Human Resource Management
- Tracey L. Osborne Oltjen
- PC Partners, Inc.
- Overland Park Wealth Management
- Fisher Phillips LLP
- Mike & Kathleen Hess
- Bruce Robb
- Bill Roche
- Clarence & Carmen Roeder
- Shaner Appraisals, Inc. Charitable Fund
- Sen. John Vratil
- Parker Communications