The Gretna Area Chamber of Commerce is a group of local businesses that banded together to promote and support existing businesses, encourage new business and promote the town of Gretna.
Our Executive Board is run entirely on a volunteer basis by local business owners and executives. Their objective is to champion business growth throughout our community by promoting and supporting our chamber members and our business community as a whole.
As was customary in the “old days”, several Gretna business owners would convene at certain locations around town to discuss everything from taxes to business. In 1984 some of the local business owners including, Dan Washburn, Mike Wohlers, Joe Piccolo, Jack Koke, Don & Ed Frederick & Web Warren among others, decided a new direction was needed.
They were looking for a way to increase their market share from the local population and resolved to come up with ways to convince the local population that they could provide them the same goods and services at the same price that they could find in the “big city” but with much less hassle and crowds.
At that time, Dan Washburn was a member of the Ashland Chamber of Commerce and was aware of their annual directory of member’s names and phone numbers so the public would have easy access to the information. He presented this idea to the group and it was decided to approach other local businesses with the idea. At that time, for $25 per year, they could get their name and phone number distributed to everyone in the 68028 zip code in this simple local directory by joining this group. Needing name recognition, they chose the name Gretna Area Business Association to avoid fees with the state and national Chambers of Commerce.
In the early years they tried many promotions to attract customers. Everything from giving away turkeys as a holiday promotion to using homemade Gretna Bucks was tried to encourage patrons to shop locally.
In the early 1990’s when the Chamber had grown to more than 100 members, Chamber President Emil Beyer led a plan to change the name to the Gretna Area Chamber of Commerce. The name change was voted on, made official, and the Gretna Area Chamber of Commerce was established.
Today, the Chamber boasts more than 250 members. The Chamber still publishes a bound directory, and now maintains a website with direct contact information for the owners of local businesses. The Chamber has become active in community affairs and in recruiting new businesses to town, as well as promoting existing members. This is augmented by local advertising, ribbon cuttings, and many events that promote businesses new and old. The Chamber continues to progress by adding an new office, a more dynamic website, increased community involvement, and providing more information for those choosing to visit Gretna for a day or move their business here and stay for a lifetime.
Yet this is by no means the final chapter. As Gretna continues to grow and more businesses continue to invest in the Gretna area this group will continue to adapt and change to the needs of one of Nebraska’s most vital and growing communities.