SABC traces its roots to “Swiss Week 1999,” launched in Chicago, IL as a festival highlighting the best of Switzerland and celebrating the new Chicago-Lucerne Sister Cities Partnership. The events included a “Swiss Village,” erected in Chicago’s famous Daley Plaza, as well as other civic, cultural and business events at various venues around the city.
A highlight of the week was an attendance by the famous balloonist Dr. Bertrand Piccard, who gave presentations at the Museum of Science & Industry and at Daley Plaza. The event also attracted a number of other prominent persons, including Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago, Mayor Urs Studer of Lucerne and Ambassador of Switzerland to the United States, Alfred Defago.
Swiss Week 1999 was organized by Swiss Week, Ltd., a not-for-profit organization under the patronage of the Consulate General of Switzerland in Chicago and the then Consul General, Eduard Jaun. The organization was then renamed in 2001 to the Switzerland America Foundation, while continuing to expand its business and cultural activities.
In mid 2000, the Switzerland America Foundation launched a website to highlight the organization’s activities, create a useful information portal for its members, and enhance the overall exchange of business and cultural information.
In late 2002, the trade-related activities of the organization expanded, as it formally took over the functions of the former American-Swiss Chamber of Commerce (ASCC), which had been headed by Heinz Rufer and Werner Suter.
The transfer of members, and the donation of funds by ASCC, occurred during 2002 and 2003. This move provided the organization with an even stronger mandate to fulfill the role of a business association and to further promote commercial and technology-related ties between Switzerland and North America, while limiting its cultural activities principally to support the MOSAIC initiative (Midwest Outreach for Swiss Art, Innovation and Culture).
In light of its expanded business activites, the Switzerland America Foundation formally change its name to the Swiss-American Business Council – SABC in June 2003.