The Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce will celebrate its 100th birthday on Wednesday, October 20, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency, New Brunswick. Tickets to the gala are $150. Call 732-745-8090.

Established as the New Brunswick Board of Trade in 1910, the chamber renamed itself several times as its size and reach grew. The New Brunswick Board of Trade soon became the New Brunswick Chamber of Commerce, then the Raritan Valley Chamber of Commerce, and finally, in the 1980s, became the Middlesex County Regional Chamber.

But while the name of the organization has changed (and while its member ranks have grown to about 600), chamber executive director Alex Hollywood says the MCRCC has always been zeroed in on the commercial interests of its members. “Local businesses are the heart of our economy,” she says. “We play a key role in making Middlesex County an attractive region for companies to do business.”

Indeed, what was once a small-town kind of business community here has turned into the world headquarters of the pharmaceutical industry, built mainly around Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, and a hub of education research at Rutgers University.

John Fitzgerald, chairman of the chamber, says the gala will honor some of the chamber’s major member organizations, which have helped it gain notoriety and influence over the past century — Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Johnson & Johnson, Saint Peter’s University Hospital, PSE&G, Allen & Stults Inc., Provident Bank, the Home News Tribune, Rutgers, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Suydam Insurance, the Star Ledger, and Pines Manor.

“Each of the honorees have strong ties to the community and have had a significant impact on the region’s growth during their history,” Fitzgerald says.

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