Thursday, December 1 2022

The Bastrop Chamber of Commerce is commemorating its centenary and the state’s first lady will join in the celebration.

The chamber will ring in its 100th year with a centennial gala Friday at the Bastrop Convention Center and Governor Greg Abbot’s wife, Cecilia Abbott, is set to be the keynote speaker.

“The fact that we’ve been around 100 years in a row here at Bastrop is huge,” said Becki Womble, CEO and Chamber President. “Especially coming out of a pandemic when so many chambers have had to simply lay off staff, close their doors or merge with other organisations. The fact that we have endured pandemics and economic crises…the fact that we have consistently supported our business is huge.

A man walks past the Bastrop Chamber of Commerce in 1942.

The gala will welcome more than 400 guests and will include actor portraits of historic business figures including JV Ash, Ruby Griesenbeck, Judi Hoover, Cecil Long and Neil Gurwitz. The 2021 awards for Large and Small Business of the Year, Emerging Business of the Year, Nonprofit Organization of the Year, and Man and Woman of the Year will also be announced.

Guests will also be able to purchase “A Chamber Centennial History,” a book written by former Bastrop Mayor Ken Kesselus that describes the history of the chamber.

The state granted articles of incorporation to the Bastrop Chamber of Commerce on January 14, 1922 and adopted the motto “Bigger Better Bastrop”.

The state granted the Bastrop Chamber of Commerce its articles of incorporation on January 14, 1922.

Womble said that although a lot has changed since the chamber was established, the organization’s vision has remained the same: “Our mission is to improve commercial property and thus the quality of life in Bastrop, in the county, through leadership, advocacy and collaboration”.

The chamber has 723 member companies, Womble said, supporting nearly 10,000 jobs across the county.

Womble joined the city chamber in 2014 and said she was proud to work for an organization that not only strives to showcase its historic qualities, but is excited about growth.

“This chamber and this community has been so receptive to us being the voice of business,” Womble said. “And this community embraces the growth that comes here, and yet it wants to preserve its historic and charming downtown. It’s easy to work here because people are excited about the future — they see the potential in what’s out there.

A Bastrop Chamber of Commerce float during a parade in 1982.

The chamber will seek accreditation from the United States Chamber of Commerce this year, Womble said.

She said one of the most recent and notable developments to which the chamber contributed was the creation of Visit Bastrop in 2017, an organization that focuses on promoting businesses across the city.

The birth of Visit Bastrop meant that the chamber had evolved from a visitor center to a simple chamber of commerce.

“The chamber returned the funding that we used to receive as a drop-in center so we could have a voice at the table on how a destination marketing organization was put together,” said said Womble. “…I think it was a great and important achievement of the chamber.”

The Bastrop Chamber of Commerce adopted its original motto, "Bigger Better Bastrop," when it received its articles of incorporation on January 14, 1922.


When: Friday January 14

Or: Bastrop Convention Center, 1408 Chestnut St.

Time: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.


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