History & Milestones

The Wake Forest Area Chamber of Commerce has been a leading voice for our business community for decades. We strive to be a powerful and effective advocate, serve as a resource for businesses of all sizes, and enhance the quality of life in the Wake Forest area. Our comprehensive long-range plan guides the organization and focuses on these core areas for the Chamber: stakeholder services, government affairs, Foundation, and special interests.


Representing business, serving community, and enhancing the quality of life.


February 1948 – The Wake Forest Area Chamber of Commerce was formed by local businessmen who felt that Wake Forest was in need of a chamber of commerce. Seven men were elected for the first board of directors: J. D. Morris, G. V. Barbee, J. W. Hollowel, H. L. Miller, W. L. Glover, W. W. Holding III and C. D. Matheny.

The 1950s – Bringing a hospital to the area was the main goal during this decade. The hospital would serve 12,000 to 15,000 people per year in Wake Forest, Rolesville, and Youngsville. A $4 million bond for hospital improvements was approved, and a corporation was set up and sites were reviewed for the proposed 25-30 bed hospital. The hospital came and was viable in the community, but closed when the county reorganized their hospital system to ‘for profit’.

The 1960s – Attracting new industry to Wake Forest was a top priority for the Chamber during this time, as well as developing ways to handle requests for information about Wake Forest. The Chamber board and members worked hard with the N.C. Department of Conservation & Development to bring the Schrader Plant from New York to Wake Forest.

The 1970s – The Chamber saw a need for more doctors in the area and formed a committee to spearhead a county-wide effort to attract new doctors to Wake Forest. Also during this decade, the Chamber board spent a lot of time reviewing the needs of the members and how to strengthen the Chamber for the projected growth in the community. Other areas of concern were the waste treatment facility’s capacity, more extended phone service, a shopping center for the downtown area, increased recreation opportunities, and improved schools.

The 1980s – It was during this time that the ‘growing’ pains of the Chamber’s facility became a major issue. The Chamber had been located in the old train depot for a number of years but the location was not ideal because of inaccessibility. The old fire station was purchased, and the new Wake Forest Area Chamber of Commerce building became a reality.

The 1990s – Steady growth continued in the 1990s. The Body Shop came to Wake Forest through efforts of local business people who worked with the N.C. Department of Commerce, and the Chamber became a hub of information for new businesses, residents and visitors. Many new initiatives and programs were developed including the Community & Business Expo, the Annual Spelling Bee (designed to raise grant money for area teachers), and Women in Business. By the late 1990s, the Chamber had a full-time staff of three to serve its growing membership.

21st Century – Since 2000, the Chamber has doubled its membership, added even more benefits to the growing membership, and created an annual sponsorship program (Community Investors) to support the work of the organization throughout the year. Fundraising efforts in this time period of tripled. Now, with a membership of more than 700, the Wake Forest Area Chamber of Commerce serves as the “voice of business