Celebrating Our Space
by Tracey Osborne Oltjen, CCE
Chamber President & CEO
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 and Visit Overland Park suites, 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. 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. A few weeks ago 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 new 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’re prepared when opportunities arise to host high-profile visits that enhance our mission. Last October, we hosted U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao along with regional neighbors to discuss transportation needs. Just this past month our Board held business roundtable discussions with Governor Laura Kelly and potential presidential candidate Howard Schultz. We provided the opportunity for two days of study for a team from the Urban Land Institute as they reimagined development opportunities around the Overland Park Convention Center.
Feedback from our visitors is that this is one of the best chamber facilities they’ve visited. We’re proud of that. Not because we need to be the best, but because our Board has committed to providing a welcoming environment with a variety of spaces to fulfill the goals of our members and the community.
The Chamber is much more than a place. At our core, we and our members are bound together by a common mission to enhance the business environment and quality of life in our community. We can do that anywhere, beyond our walls, and you’ll find important discussions and connections generated by the Chamber throughout Overland Park and the region. A bonus is that for the past 20 years our members have also made the Chamber’s home a priority which is a key differentiator for our organization.
On May 14, we’re celebrating the completion of this long renovation process with an open house. Join us to see all the spaces, recognize the donors who made it possible, and meet some new connections. To register for this event, click here, or contact Andie at firstname.lastname@example.org or (913) 491-3600.