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Celebrate 120 years of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce

The Columbia Chamber of Commerce is hosting its 120th annual gala event on Thursday, Oct. 5 on the diamond of Segra Park.

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Pauline Canarella is crowned Miss Columbia Chamber of Commerce in 1960. | Photo via Richland Library Digital Archive

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The Columbia Chamber will celebrate 120 years with a grand Diamond Gala on Thursday, Oct. 5 on the Segra Park infield.

For the first time, the black tie affair event will switch to a more business casual vibe inviting 500+ people to celebrate and dance the night away on the diamond.

This year’s event honors tradition while embracing a fresh approach, celebrating the Chamber’s storied past while charting a course for a flourishing future.

What’s in store for the night?

  • Awards presentation for Ambassador of the Year, Young Professional of the Year, and more.
  • Live music from The Terence Young Project
  • A champagne toast and a fireworks display

Last week, we sat down with the Chamber representatives and President and CEO Carl Blackstone as they expressed their excitement about the upcoming event.
“We’re thrilled to be celebrating such a significant milestone. It’s not just about looking back at our achievements, but also about envisioning the future and the role the Chamber will play in Columbia’s growth,” Carl said.

Over the past century, the Chamber has played an instrumental role in fostering business growth, advocating for policies that support businesses, and providing resources and networking opportunities for its members.


Heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali at the Chamber of Commerce in 1973. | Photo via Richland Library Digital Archive

Key moments through the years:

  • Fort Jackson: The Chamber was instrumental in securing Fort Jackson for Columbia, which brings an economic impact of $6.6 billion annual impact.
  • State Fairgrounds: The Chamber played a significant role in the establishment of the State Fairgrounds, which was purchased for $2,500 and moved to its current location from Elmwood Avenue and Gadsden Street.
  • Muhammad Ali: The world-famous boxer was brought to Columbia by the Chamber for a boxing exhibition in the 1970s.
  • 1925 Columbia Unlimited: A booklet that showcased the city’s growth and the Chamber’s initiatives.
  • ~503,000 People: The population within a fifty-mile radius of Columbia, highlighting its centrality.

“We’ve seen tremendous growth and change over the years,” Carl added. “But our core mission remains the same: to support and advance the business community in Columbia. The Diamond Gala is a reflection of that commitment.”