Founded in 1927 as the Bergen County Chamber of Commerce, CIANJ has always been an advocate for business and free enterprise in New Jersey. The group was a leading advocate for the building of the George Washington Bridge, opened in 1931 providing a gateway to New York and enhancing the transportation network and success of businesses throughout the region. Over the years, the group remained a strong voice for the expansion and improvement of the business climate in the area.
With the first publication of Bergen, now COMMERCE magazine in 1965, the group’s reach started to extend to c-level executives all over New Jersey. In 1975, the Foundation for Free Enterprise was founded as an affiliate, dedicated to providing educational programs to students in elementary and secondary schools, which focused on the importance of the free market economic system. The legislative arm, Private Enterprise Political Action Committee (PENPAC), was founded in 1979 to provide funding and support to business-minded candidates for the New Jersey General Assembly and Senate.
In 1983, the Chamber was renamed to the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey, expanding the focus of the organization into a statewide business advocacy group. The organization’s mission remains as true today as it was when it was established. CIANJ is the leader in free enterprise advocacy for the purpose of providing, through education, legislative vigilance, and membership interaction, an economic climate that enhances business potential and makes New Jersey a better state in which to live, work and conduct business.