MACCI turns 75: A new beginning
By Kris Leonhardt
Editor’s Note: As the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry (MACCI) celebrates 75 years, we take a look at its formation and presence in the community.
MARSHFIELD – In mid-September of 1945, Marshfield was ripe for change. In a post-war environment, the city was looking for a fresh start, and Marshfield Commercial Club President Earle Leu was drumming up interest from local businessmen for a new organization that would lead the way.
“The directors hope for a large turnout at the Sept. 24 meeting, because something new in the way of a civic organization is needed,” Leu stated. “I doubt that anything but a fresh start will be sufficient. I know I don’t favor trying to ‘warm over’ the Commercial Club.”
The Commercial Club, formed 15 years earlier, saw much of the work falling on a few shoulders, although the membership sat at about 135, while showing little in results.
A revitalization was needed.
On Sept. 26, a two-hour discussion was held among the Commercial Club members in the council chambers at the city hall. In attendance was Wausau Chamber of Commerce Secretary Walter G. Roehl, who reinforced the idea that simply changing the name wasn’t going to do much to bring about change. Change could not come while expecting men, with jobs and businesses of their own, to devote time and effort to the civic organization.
The 25 local business people at the meeting discussed the need to spend a “little more money” to get the dedicated staff needed to work effectively. The group listed Wausau, Stevens Point, Merrill, Antigo, and Rhinelander as nearby cities with paid chamber secretaries.
By the end of the evening, the Marshfield Commercial Club became the Marshfield Chamber of Commerce. The directors were then asked to appoint a committee to develop a plan for the organization, hire a paid secretary, and create a budget.
In late November, William A. Uthmeier was unanimously voted in as the paid full-time secretary, at an annual salary of $3,600. Uthmeier, who submitted his resignation as the Elks Club manager to take the position, was one of three candidates for the job. He had also served as the chair for the North Wood County War Fund and the North Wood County Chapter of the Red Cross drives and served as a past president and secretary of the Commercial Club.
The committee set the organization’s budget at $7,500 with $4,800 going to salaries and the remainder for office needs and other expenses.
Chamber directors included: Leu, Ray Finucane, Grant Johnson, Hamilton Roddis, Howard Quirt, E.M. Lee, Prince Koenig, A. Norris, Chester Davis, and Clarence Mau.
Enrollment of new members began with the new year.
On Feb. 6, 1946, the new Marshfield Chamber of Commerce held its initial meeting at the city hall with 55 members in attendance. During the meeting, Uthmeier asked that the election of officers and directors be bumped up; with 180 paid business memberships, he was eager to get work started.
By the end of February, the chamber had officers, with John Stauber, of Citizens National Bank, serving as president; Prince Koenig, Marshfield Milling Company, as first vice president; R. L. Reitz, Clover Cream Dairy Products, as second vice president; and C.W. Mau, Central State Bank, as treasurer.
Membership was now at 211, and the chamber had $7,800 in the bank.
Watch for Part II of the series