Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce

About our ChamberOur Mission

The Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce represents local business interests and advocates on behalf of our members. We provide the platform to help our members succeed through a proactive working partnership with government and community organizations. The Chamber is a catalyst that raises the level of respect for our area and local businesses, to maintain a flourishing local economy that encourages and promotes positive, well-balanced economic growth through business development.

Governed by a Board of Directors and working with a professional staff, the Chamber acts on behalf of our membership:

  • Supports business growth and prosperity
  • Increases job opportunities
  • Contributes to the overall economic stability of the community
  • Seeks members’ input to advocate on behalf of our business community
  • Supports community efforts to improve the quality of life in the Lower Keys
  • Provides valuable demographic studies and statistics on our area
  • Upon request, provides current Member mailing labels to members only
  • Upon request, provides Visitor labels, so members can follow-up with potential customers
  • Promotes tourism by sharing information with visitors about all our area has to offer
  • Provides relocation and employment information for new residents
  • Guides member businesses as they host networking opportunities

  • Has a representative at all meetings vital to the economy and betterment of the Lower Keys:
  • Tourist Development Council (TDC);
  • District Advisory Committee (DAC);
  • Board of County Commissioners (BOCC);
  • Keys Federation of Chambers
  • Actively markets our area by distributing the Lower Keys Map and Visitors’ Guide
  • Keeps our members, out-of-town organizations and other Chambers of Commerce informed of important issues through the monthly newsletter and email blasts
  • Offers special advertising opportunities through the Chamber Compass, displays in the office and social media

    Our History

    is rich...Like many parts of Florida, the original inhabitants of the Keys were the Native American Indians. Indian tribes such as the Calusa and Tequesta were living in the Keys when the Spanish discovered Florida in the 1500's. In 1513, during his discovery of Florida, Ponce de Leon named the Keys the Martires (the martyrs). Experts have speculated that this name actually came from the Indians, as there was an Indian village named Cuchiyaga or "martyred place" during this early time. Memoirs, dated around the middle 1500's from a ship-wrecked Spaniard who lived in the Keys amongst the Indians for 20 years, reported that there were deer, raccoons, manatees and bears. Their diets consisted of fish, turtle, snail, lobster, manatee and raccoon. Little is known or written about the Keys until the 1800's as the Indian tribes moved or died out and the lack of bridges precluded any land settlement.

    The Lower Keys were sparsely settled in the early to mid 1800's. Mosquitoes and lack of any particular way of making a living made it difficult to homestead this area. At the same time, Key West had a population of 18,000, making it the largest city in Florida. Some well to do Key Westers had country homes 30 miles east in the Lower Keys and all sailed by boat to their second homes. Although sparsely inhabited today, small lower Keys like No Name and Little Pine had substantial settlements. Many brave settlers survived in the Lower Keys by producing charcoal, farming, fishing and sponging. Back in 1905, a feed sack of coal netted 10 cents.

    With the fulfilled lifelong dream of Henry Flagler and the Overseas Railroad, a successful Lower Keys settlement could be realized. This link with the mainland was the culmination of 7 years of extremely hard work. Over 500 railroad workers, as well as most of Flagler's fortune, were claimed by this project. The train ran from its completion in 1912 until 1935 when the great Labor Day hurricane destroyed it. The railroad left many remnants of its existence in the Lower Keys. Water towers, sumps, sinkholes and sections of the railway bridges are still evident.

    After the hurricane, damage to the railway was so great that the entire railroad system was sold to the State of Florida and they built the Overseas Highway. This highway incorporated a ferry system, as well. During this time in Keys history, travel time from Key Largo to Key West could take over 7 hours for the 118 mile stretch.

    The Florida Keys consist of 42 bridges and over 300 small islands, all imaginatively named. From the Saddle Bunch Keys to Duck Key to Ohio Key and even No Name Key, you'll enjoy crossing over each bridge and seeing the Keys on both sides of US Highway 1, in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.


    Overseas Highway
    an All-American Road

    The Florida Keys Scenic Highway (FKSH) corridor runs from Mile Marker 110, north of the spectacular Jewfish Creek Bridge, to Mile Marker 0 in Old Town Key West. The scenic highway corridor also extends five miles on each side of the highway. So, the FKSH truly encompasses all of the Florida Keys, its natural wonders, and its communities...Read more, Click here.

    Green Business

    The Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce has met the standards of Florida Keys Green Living & Energy Education Green Business Program.

    You can be low-key
    in the Lower Florida Keys

    If you've had enough of an overcrowded and weary world, the islands of the Lower Keys are the place for you... Read More, Click Here

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