By Marc Burgin
Franklin has seen a number of chambers of commerce come and go over the years. The most recent began with an informal meeting at Bennett’s Funeral Home in December of 1979. Frank Millen, of Millen’s Flowers and Gifts, organized the meeting. Then he began work on incorporation with Marc Hildebrand, whose law office in the village is now the Gone Local Marketplace.
In February of the following year, Marc Burgin (Burgin’s Auto), Bill Kelsey (Robinson-Kelsey Department Store) and Jim Hyzer (Jim’s Restaurant, now The Tulip and The Rose) signed the incorporation papers. Millen was the first president, and Burgin the first vice president. The mission statement was and still is: To advance the economic, industrial, professional, cultural, and civic welfare of the greater Franklin area.
Early goals included making Franklin more attractive to residents and visitors, promoting Franklin, and encouraging cooperation among local organizations. The logo for the chamber shows shaking hands to signify this cooperation. Its many beatification efforts in the village include flower barrels, benches, flags, and banners. The chamber also has encouraged others’ efforts through awards for the best summer gardens and best Christmas decorations. Chamber has promoted Franklin through a website (FranklinNY.org ) and the distribution of maps and directories.
One of the most ambitious projects was the short-lived medical clinic in cooperation with the Delaware Valley Hospital of Walton. In the mid-1980s, the clinic was housed in the Franklin Methodist church.
In the early 2000s, the chamber organized a ride service for Franklin residents.
Although advertised in newspapers and flyers, there was not enough interest to maintain the service. Franklinites are quite self-sufficient.
From the beginning, the chamber has run the Big Buck contest each fall. Starting in 2001, we have made annual awards for business student, business, and person of the year.
Since 2014, the chamber has organized a revived New Old Franklin Day at the end of August, both to bring enjoyment to residents and to bring business into the community.
The chamber’s good works are supported by a nominal membership fee (currently $35), annual dance and auction, and the Big Buck contest. We have over sixty members. The owner of any business operating in or from the greater Franklin area is welcome to attend our monthly meetings, usually on the last Wednesdays of the month. Locations of our meeting have migrated from business to business, recently at the Franklin Railroad and Community Museum and now at the Rich farmhouse.
Over the years, the chamber has had five presidents, five vice presidents, and a number of treasurers and secretaries.
Last year was our 35th anniversary, making us the longest-running of the Franklin chambers. We marked this milestone by moving our annual meeting and awards dinner from the dark of winter in a distant restaurant to the light of summer and a grand view of our town at the Babcock’s blueberry barn.