The First 25 Years
(From an article by John Codina, Founding Father of the Chamber, published in Spain: The Business Link in 1984)
During the late 1950s Spain was going through a dynamic economic transformation, with an awareness of vast and untapped resources. New thoughts and tools were being forged to cope with the new technical age and to exploit these resources. At the same time, there was a general lack of understanding among American firms, and unless they were actively engaged in Spain-U.S. trade, they didnít understand what the Spanish market could offer to them and what it could absorb from the American market.
In the middle 50s, various organizations were formed in the U.S.óthe Spanish-American Board of Trade, the "Friends of Spain," the incorporated but not functioning Spanish Society, and the Spanish Institute, Inc. All these presented an array of appeals, and a wide range of demands upon people's time, and because their interests were so divided, they were unable to get adequate financial revenues and could not successfully accomplish their respective missions.
Recognizing this situation, in late 1957 and early 1958, various individuals got together and decided it would be in the best interests of Spain and the United States relationships if the number of organizations could be reduced. From these efforts, two main organizations emerged: The Spanish Institute, Inc. for cultural purposes, and The Spain-U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Inc.
Our Chamber was officially created at a luncheon presided over by our first elected president, Mr. Manuel Rodriguez, at the Traffic Club of New York in the Biltmore Hotel on February 9, 1959; it was incorporated in the State of New York on April 2, 1959.
The Spain-U.S. Chamber of Commerce consisted originally of a group of eighteen influential businessmen who did business with Spain, who came to be known as the "Founding Fathers." These men were aware of the new circumstances and changes in the Spanish economic structure.
The purpose of the Chamber was to facilitate commercial relations between the two countries. Its establishment came about in response to U.S. demands for a clearinghouse where factual data on trade opportunities and related matters between the U.S. and Spain could be quickly, freely, and accurately obtained by individuals and firms interested in this area of commerce. It might be noted that since World War II there was not a non-profit organization in the United States that was devoted to the exclusive function for which the Chamber was founded. One of the first functions of the Chamber was to act as a cooperating unit in the formation of a New York committee designed to handle inquiries regarding the investment of foreign capital funds in Spain.
A membership drive was launched and the original membership grew from 32 resident firms to 243 members in the United States and Spain by the end of the first year. The Chamber provided contacts for firms in either country; market reports on stated commodities; introductions to private firms, officials, and others; tariff and credit data, etc. The problems of arbitration and immigration were also tackled that year. A reference library was also started from donations of books regarding various concerns. In subsequent years, the Chamber sponsored numerous luncheons in honor of visiting Spanish officials and dignitaries, who have spoken on various sectors of the Spanish economy. It published a Chamber bulletin, monitored bills pending in Congress which would affect Spanish-American trade, and has grown to what it is today--a smooth and efficient organization dedicated to the prosperity of business between our two countries.
As one of the "Founding Fathers," on the Silver Anniversary of its founding, I extend my sincere best wishes to The Spain-U.S. Chamber of Commerce for many more years of continued successful cooperation with the business communities of the United States of America and Spain.