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Today we feature The Canton Board of Trade from our Stark County Collection.
The Canton Board of Trade (1885-1914) Collected & Documented by Tom Haas 2016
The forerunner of the Canton Chamber of Commerce, the Canton Board of Trade played a tremendously dynamic part in the development of the city of Canton, Ohio
The Canton Board of Trade was organized in 1885. Its members consisted of prominent businessmen from Canton who recognized that a growing industrial base clearly benefitted all aspects of the greater economy. To that end this group of influential citizens sought to attract other growing companies from other parts of Ohio and even other states to re-locate their businesses to Canton. These persistent men tirelessly pursued any opportunity to sell the benefits of this city to any business that would listen. Their creative packaging of financial benefits coupled with total community support lured many large businesses to select Canton as their new base of operations.
The selling points of Canton were many. It enjoyed an abundance of resources such as plentiful coal and natural gas deposits, a growing nearby steel industry, inexpensive agricultural land, a new city water system, electric railway interurban lines,excellent north-south, east-west railroad lines, many fine schools and churches, an industrially supportive media (The Evening Repository and the Daily Democrat) and a business-friendly city and county government. Total community support, sweetened by a lucrative package of financial incentives, combined to boost Canton as an excellent place for industrial re-location.
Creative packaging of financial benefits lured many large businesses to select Canton as their new base of operations. The Canton Board of Trade consisted of men of vision who came from all aspects of industrial life. They owned successful businesses and knew what it would take to bring other promising businesses to Canton. They understood that salesmanship alone, sometimes, was not enough. The package offered might even require personal investment on the part of the membership to help seal the deal. Above all complete civic commitment and cooperation from industry and government was necessary to accomplish their goals.
In 1885 when the Canton Board of Trade was established its sole purpose was to bring the Dueber Hampden Watch Company to Canton.
At that time W. W. Clark was the first president (also the first president of the Diebold Safe & Lock Company), Henry W. Harter, Secretary (also serving as Vice President and partner of the George D. Harter Bank) and Louis Schaefer, Corresponding Secretary (also prominent attorney in the City of Canton, Stark County politician, and owner of Schaefer’s Opera House.)
As a member of the Canton Board of Trade and later president for many years, Charles A. Dougherty’s personal initiative was largely responsible for fund campaigns that secured for Canton, not only Dueber Hampden and Timken Roller Bearing and Axle Company, but also Carnahan Industries, Canton Malleable Iron Works and many other smaller companies.
One of the most persuasive inducements that Dougherty and members came up with was to bring outside companies and their employees to Canton was the idea to buy farmland close to railroad lines to gift to a prospective manufacturing company. Additional nearby land owned by the Board would frequently be divided into lots, some of which could be given to the prospective company free of charge and some that could be sold to the company’s relocated workers. The Board of Trade used this technique to help bring such successful companies as Dueber Hampden, Carnahan Industries, Timken Roller Bearing and Axle Company to Canton among many other companies from surrounding states.
According to the Canton Board of Trade’s 1909 publication entitled “The Evolution of a City”, between the years of 1885 and 1909 the following industries were persuaded to move to Canton due to the efforts of this association:
- Hedgeland Manufacturing Company
- Cleveland Axle Manufacturing
- Timken Roller Bearing
- Kittoe Boiler and Tank Company
- Power Electric Company
- Canton Stamping and Enameling
- Republic Stamping and Enameling
- Alliance Foundry Company
- American Roll and Foundry Company
- American Sheet and Tin Plate Company
- Canton Malleable Iron Company
- Gschwind Furnace Company
- Canton Hughes Pump Company
- United Steel Company
- Old King Cole Papier Mache Works
- Imperial Rubber Manufacturing
- Stark Rolling Mill Company
- Cleveland-Canton Spring Company
- Shull Steel Castings Company
- Wright Wrench Company
- Carnahan Tin Plate and Sheet Company
The Canton Board of Trade reported in 1909 that there were 210 factories in Canton employing some 11,000 people, and manufacturing 6,000 distinct and separate articles. The combined output each year reached more than 20 million dollars.
Canton’s population, as reported in 1909, by the Canton Board of Trade:
1809 2,063 citizens
1860 4,041 citizens
1870 8,660 citizens
1880 12,258 citizens
1890 26,189 citizens
1900 30,667 citizens
1909 45,000 citizens
Notice the enormous growth of population from the period of the 1880’s to the year 1909. This was undoubtedly due to the positive efforts of the Canton Board of trade to bring many businesses and their workers to Canton.
Another Canton business organization at that time, the Canton Businessmen’s Association, was organized in 1904. It became a partner and also a rival to the Canton Board of Trade. Competitive bickering between these two associations caused the Canton Chamber of Commerce to be established as “one voice” (as suggested by President William Taft) in 1914. The national Chamber of Commerce had previously been established two years before this.
The Canton Board of Trade continued to exist after 1914 but their influence was slowly diminished. The Canton Chamber of Commerce continued to grow but the “golden age” of bringing successful, long-lasting business development to Canton has never equaled the success of the Canton Board of Trade.
Canton Board of Trade
- The Stark County Story, Edward Heald, 1952, Vol.III, pgs.198-207
- “Evolution of a City”, Canton Board of Trade, Canton, Ohio, 1909