The US-India Chamber of Commerce (Midwest) was founded in Chicago in 2003 at the suggestion of then Counsel General Surendra Kumar. Calling up on several prominent Indian born business leaders in the Chicago area, the Chamber was launched with generous contributions from key sponsors, including Chamber Lifetime Members Ram Thukkaram, Mohan Dandamudi, M. Anirudhan, Ajit Pant, and others.
The original mission of the chamber was closely aligned with our current mission, though in the early days there was greater emphasis on large company involvement and support. Mr. Ram Thukkaram and Mr. Sam Desai, SVP and CIO of Motorola at the time, served as Co-Presidents of the Chamber for a period of time, and Ram Thukkaram played a critical leadership role for many years thereafter.
In 2006, an agreement was struck with The World Trace Center of Chicago for that prominent organization to provide day to day operational support and direction. The Chamber achieved mixed success utilizing this model. Regular meetings were held; a successful seminar in 2007 featured a presentation from Mr. Ron Somers, the highly acclaimed President of the US-India Business Council in Washington DDC. Another highlight occurred in June, 2009 with a large day long Conference attended by 150 plus members from across the state, including Keynote Speaker Governor Pat Quinn. Although there were many successful programs in the mid to late 2000’s, we did not achieve the “lift-off” experience we had hoped for.
In 2009-10, as a result of the global financial crisis and economic challenges all around us, many Chamber members needed to stay focused on their personal business operations, and as a result the Chamber went into a quiet period.
Beginning in 2011, a renewed sense of commitment and possibilities re-emerged. Under the leadership of current Chamber President Rajiv Ranjan and the Executive Committee, regular meetings were scheduled and many excellent programs were held featuring talented entrepreneurs, experienced business executives, as well as academics and diplomats. In late 2013, with generous ongoing support from Mr. Ram Thukkaram, a part-time Chamber administrative manager was secured. The Chamber now executing a well conceived growth plan which will lead to sustained growth and the successful attainment of our vision: to be the pre-eminent trade and commerce focused organization in the Midwest.
The Chamber has always been multi-faceted in its approach. We should mention the Seminars that we have held on topics such as FDI In India, US India Nuclear Agreement, Opportunities in Retail, Aviation and Infrastructure Projects. We have had wonderfully dynamic presentations on Energy Co-operation between the US and India, as well as the impact and significance of Secretary of State Clinton’s 2012 visit to India.
We are just beginning our second decade, and the History of the Chamber is still being written. All are invited to take an active part and role in helping expand the vibrancy and impact of the Chamber on commercial ties and business opportunities in the Midwest and internationally, with specific focus on India.