In the early 1980s, under the leadership of local business people, activists and civic leaders, there was concern the needs and opportunities of Over-the-Rhine (OTR) were great and that an organization to address them did not exist. They formed the neighborhood Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce.
Even before the OTR Chamber acquired its official 501c6 designation, the group had secured the National Historic Register recognition for the entire 360 acre foot print of the OTR neighborhood. OTR has the largest collection of 19th century Italianate architecture than any district in the United State, an asset that continues to be a core value and appeal of the area.
In spring of 1985, the group’s first meeting was held and became dedicated to improving civic involvement and rebuilding the inner city. Monthly meetings rotated from one business and establishment to another, so members became familiar and supportive of one another. From the beginning, the Over-the-Rhine Chamber has actively encouraged the maintenance and establishment of businesses in the area.
In early 2000, the OTR Chamber formed the OTR Revitalization Corporation as a 501c3 organization, to tap into the grants and fiscal gifts available to generate street animation and activity for the businesses and residents of Over-the-Rhine. Together these two organizations work hand in hand to bring special events, attentions, awareness, resources and commerce to the 360-acre neighborhood.
The OTR Chamber stays flexible and responsive to the needs of members and the community. Years ago, the OTR Chamber developed an anti-drug program with targeted police details to reduce the criminal activity related to illegal drug trafficking. The safety sector meetings successfully facilitate open dialogue between police officers, safety ambassadors, businessmen and residents in the various districts in the neighborhood.
Since its inception, the Over-the-Rhine Chamber has grown to nearly 300 members. In 2004, it formed a partnership with the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce to strengthen its influence and to offer added benefits for members and the community.
Today, the OTR Chamber of Commerce supports all facets of the neighborhood – commerce, community and lifestyle – with a focus on Marketing and Communications, Business Attraction and Retention, and Safety Initiatives.