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Category Archives: Community

President’s Message – July 2016

HRBCC-42The Brownsville Chamber of Commerce recently held a special ceremony to induct 26 members of the Brownsville Young Chamber (BYC) and their newly elected Advisory Council. The historical event is the culmination of the Chamber’s strategic effort to be more responsive to the diversity of its members and the business community. It’s the first time that a membership level is developed to recognize the interests of young professionals. The purpose of BYC is to provide meaningful and strategic opportunities for the professional and personal development of young professionals. The BYC Advisory Council will soon begin the development of a strategic plan to develop programs and events that will be focused on strengthening the entrepreneurial and economic development ecosystem that Brownsville needs in order to sustain a vibrant and prosperous business community.

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It’s no coincidence that BYC members, most of them between the ages of 21 and 32, are eager to make a difference in their community. They define themselves more by their interests and passions than their careers, or their symbiotic relationship with technology. They have a strong sense of community service and entrepreneurship, and are equally passionate about the economy. It’s fair to say that passion is their preferred currency.

While the mission of our Chamber remains the same, to advance the business interests of its members through leadership, civic engagement, promotion, support and advocacy, there is no doubt that BYC members will catapult our mission to new horizons. The way they express and pursue their passions is different. They have access to more tools, are extremely resourceful, well connected, and are especially passionate about things that impact others. They are “change makers!”

It’s an exciting time for our Chamber. Moving forward, we can expect to see our BYC members investing in our community, supporting creativity and innovation, and sustaining and leading entrepreneurship. The long-term development and success of our business community depends on the cultivation and professional development of future business leaders.

We believe strongly that forging a collaborative relationship with young professionals is a step in the right direction for our Chamber and the business community. Together with our members, we will continue to cultivate the pro-business climate that sustains a strong, local economy. Each day, we take small steps toward these goals, and each day we see the success of our members and know that Brownsville is a great city—on its way to greater prosperity.

¡Adelante! Together—We are the Chamber!

Melinda Rodriguez



July 2016 Member Spotlight – Pink Ape Media Consulting LLC

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Company Name: Pink Ape Media Consulting LLC

Business Category: Advertising – Marketing

Date joined: October 2013

Services: Marketing and advertising consulting services to private companies, public institutions and political candidates in the Rio Grande Valley. Its expertise includes graphic design, advertising contents, video production, direct marketing, and the development of inbound marketing strategies, such as websites, social networks, email marketing or search engine optimization (SEO).

Pink Ape Media Consulting was started in 2011 with the vision of supporting local businesses and government institutions in developing promotion strategies. Although their beginning was challenging, the company has thrived over the years by educating entrepreneurs, business executives, and directors of public institutions, about new consumer habits and technologies that demand innovative ways of doing things.

“Creativity and innovation are our main principles. If anything has distinguished our company from others, it is that we do things differently, generating ideas and products that are both original and valuable to our clients,” said Rodrigo Moreno, founder and chief creative officer. “Achieving this requires a high dose of imagination, but also a constant commitment to overcome our own creations and designs.”

Pink Ape Media has a team of five full-time employees. The company joined the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce three years ago; they view their membership as an opportunity to strengthen ties of cooperation with other local businesses.

Pink Ape Media’s advice to small business owners is that any business, regardless of its size, cannot aspire to continue growing without a good marketing plan. Their industry’s biggest challenge is the misconception that marketing is only for big companies. Their objective is to show business owners and executives the possibilities available through the use of marketing tools.

Contact information:

Pink Ape Media Consulting LLC

3101 Pablo Kisel Blvd. STE B-4

Brownsville, TX

(956) 350-9540



May 2016 Member Spotlight: Lower Valley Dental Associates

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Company Name: Lower Valley Dental Associates

Category: Dental

Date joined: February 2009

Quality and personalized dental care is what Lower Valley Dental Associates aims to provide to each patient. This family business was started by Brownsville native Claudia E. Rodriguez, DDS, and her husband Jordan Patrick Pirtle, DDS, in 2007. At the time, the closest dentist providing sedation and general anesthesia services for dental procedures was located in Harlingen. Today, their dental practice has grown to three doctors and 19 staff members, including Dr. Melissa Uriegas.

The Lower Valley Dental Associates team takes pride in being part of the Brownsville and Rio Grande Valley community. Their services include dental care for children, adults, and special needs patients, in both office and hospital settings.

“Our practice is a family run and operated organization. This is not a corporate office with

a pre-planned business model. We are community members that are trying to do right by our fellow community members based on the education we have received from our higher learning

institutions.” Claudia E. Rodriguez, DDS, said. “We are proud to live in Brownsville and want to do our part to educate and help our neighbors.”


Contact information:

Lower Valley Dental Associates

4920 N. Expressway 77, Suite E

Brownsville, TX 78526

(956) 350-0059

President’s Message – May 2016

HRBCC-42Recently, WalletHub, a leading personal finance outlet, listed Brownsville as the 7th Best City for Hispanic Entrepreneurs. According to WalletHub, their analysts checked the Hispanic business climate in 150 of the largest U.S. cities to help aspiring entrepreneurs and established businesses find the most fertile ground for their enterprises. Brownsville was the only city in the Valley to make their list. Among the list of criteria used to rank cities was Hispanic-business-friendliness, startups per capita, number of small business loans awarded, housing affordability, and Hispanic population growth. The trajectory for the success of small businesses in our city continues to increase. The message is loud and clear, “Brownsville continues to be a great place for small businesses!”

The Brownsville Chamber of Commerce is leading the effort to improve the climate for small business startups, as well as established businesses. Brownsville is an emerging entrepreneurial community, and last week’s announcement of the arrival of SATA USA, an Italian machining operation, is yet another sign that new industries are coming to Brownsville. Aside from increasing the opportunities for business owners to increase their knowledge and expertise through our Chamber University Program, which offers more than 40 professional development workshops, we also partner with numerous small business service providers to offer business owners the resources they need to expand their businesses and reach more customers. Some of those resources include access to experts to help create business and marketing plans, as well as access to lending institutions and organizations such as LiftFund that can offer startup capital, credit report reviewing and planning, and business and strategic planning. These organizations want to lend money to businesses in Brownsville.

Looking to the future, the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce is also working to inspire future business leaders through the creation of the Brownsville Young Chamber. The Brownsville Young Chamber (BYC) program is a great opportunity to develop Brownsville’s future entrepreneurs. By providing opportunities for BYC members to engage with business and community leaders and providing relevant professional development, we aim to cultivate a strong and innovative pro-business culture that sustains Brownsville’s future economic development. Over 50 interested young professionals attended the first social gathering, and before the end of the event, 19 had officially joined BYC. More continue to join each week.

Lastly, we know that there are many challenges to opening and sustaining a successful business, so in the very near future, we plan to expand our business services to provide more support to small business owners by offering financial incentives to cultivate more creativity and innovation. We also want to attract new entrepreneurs and industries to Brownsville, so together with local business and community organizations, we will strengthen the entrepreneurial infrastructure so that we develop a qualified workforce, provide vital business support services, create a fertile pro-business climate, and in the end improve our quality of life. Each day, we take small steps toward these goals, and each day we see the success of our members and know that Brownsville is a great city—on its way to greater prosperity.

¡Adelante! Together—We are the Chamber!

Melinda Rodriguez


March 2016 Member Spotlight: Communities In Schools of Cameron County

CIS Spotlight





Organization Name: Communities In Schools of Cameron County (CIS)

Date joined: October 2012

Programs and Services: CIS is the nation’s leading organization that champions the connection of needed community resources with schools, to help young people successfully learn, stay in school, and prepare for life.  The staff consists of trained professionals that work with students by providing personalized, one-on-one assistance to improve attendance, academic readiness, conduct, and basic needs.

CIS programs reduce dropout rates and increase graduation rates by keeping students in schools, eliminating barriers to success by any means, and never abandoning a student. CIS gives students the opportunity for success by providing services such as tutoring, mentoring, supportive guidance, college readiness, career preparation, support services for students and parents, health and human services support, after school activities and enrichment.

Vision and mission: To surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.

 Leadership: Greg Flores, Executive Director

Contact information:

700 E. Levee St. Ste. 204

Brownsville, TX 78520

Eva Perez, Program Manager

P: (956) 554-7954



Chairwoman’s Message – March 2016

Olga Gonzalez

Greetings –

The nineteenth century developers of Brownsville gave us a truly unique and beautiful city, combining the Mexican-Spanish Colonial architectural traditions with formal and folk buildings. This rich blending of history and functionality, the past and the future, is a kind of picture of who we are. Our city, our valley is blessed with a wonderfully optimistic, industrious and warm community of people, and Brownsville Chamber of Commerce continues to be an invaluable point of meeting for us. I’m so grateful you’re a part of it.

Last week the Chamber hosted the first of the 2016 Women in Leadership Speakers Series, presented by Valley Regional Medical Center. Our very special guests were Jamie and Patsy Silva Schanbaum. Jamie’s story of overcoming adversity is truly inspirational. After losing her legs and fingers 8 years ago to meningococcal septicemia, she founded The JAMIE Group to raise awareness and educate the public about this preventable disease. In 2009, Jamie helped to pass Senate Bill 819, the Jamie Schanbaum Act, requiring meningitis vaccinations for all college students in Texas.

I encourage you save the date for the next powerful presentation of the Women in Leadership Speakers Series, featuring Gloria Campos, scheduled for June 29, 2016, from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM at the Historic Alonso Building.

ADB-Facebook1nother great event that you will not want to miss is ¡Despierta Brownsville!; an early morning opportunity to chat about the great things going on in Brownsville. Join us from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., on April 13, at The Historic Alonso Building, 510 E. Saint Charles Street. The topic of the presentation will be the Nielsen Border Study insights, presented by the Brownsville Partners that funded the study.

One more advance notice for later in the year: we are honored to have been selected as one of only ten partners across the state to host a 2016 Governor’s Small Business Forum. Plan to be with us on October 27, 2016, at the Brownsville Event Center. From our Press Release: “These forums are designed to give entrepreneurs and small businesses valuable tools, skills, and knowledge needed to thrive in today’s fast-paced economy. The event will feature a wide range of instructive seminars and expert speakers offering vital information on both public and private resources. There will also be a special focus on offering information for women and veteran entrepreneurs.”

Finally, we are continuing to grow and it’s been our pleasure to welcome 18 new members in January and 11 in February. It’s great to have each one with us, and we encourage you to get involved and make the most of all the benefits that come with being part of our dynamic Chamber. Did you know that our Chamber University program includes more than 40 professional programs and workshops throughout the year focused on helping business owners and nonprofit organizations grow and prosper their organizations? Get more information and register online.

We are better together!

Olga Gonzalez
Chairwoman of the Board

Vice President – Professional & Executive Banker, BBVA Compass

February 2016 Member Spotlight: Brownsville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center



Company Name: Brownsville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Business Category: Adult Care Services, Medical

Date joined: November 2004

Services: I.V. Care, Wound Care, Alzheimer’s Care, Dietary Services, and others.

Brownsville Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (BNR) opened its doors in 2005 and is one of 33 rehab centers in Texas, managed by parent company Regency Post-Acute Healthcare System. The company has over 25 years of operational experience, supported by local expertise and high standards.

With 129 employees, BNR offers long and short term rehabilitation to patients who have suffered fractures, strokes, heart disease, pneumonia, and other conditions.

BNR is dedicated to rehabilitation, driven by strong leadership and a commitment to improve the lives of others. They have a “Rapid Recovery Road” program, geared towards preparing patients to return home, by practicing everyday tasks, similar to getting into or out of a car, going to the post office or doing laundry. They also recognize that long-term healthcare is changing, and understand that each patient has different needs and goals.

The Brownsville Chamber of Commerce has witnessed some of BNR’s milestones since their grand opening in 2005. The company attributes its success in providing service to over 200 families every year to knowing the community and the people they service, hiring within the community, and knowing the ins-and-outs of the industry.

Contact information:

Brownsville Nursing & Rehabilitation Center

320 Lorenaly Drive

Brownsville, TX 78526

P: (956) 350-2252

January 2016 Member Spotlight: LiftFund

LiftFund Spotlight





Company Name: LiftFund

Business Category: Financial Services

Date joined: November 2000

Services: loans for equipment/inventory financing, working capital, start-up funds, real estate. Small business loans ($500 to $250,000), SBA 7aCA loans, start-up loans up to $50,000, SBA 504 program loans.

LiftFund, non-profit organization in business for 20 years, has steadily been growing successfully in Texas and 13 other states by helping small business owners with limited access to capital to open and grow their businesses. The organization partners with SBA lenders and other lending institutions to provide small business loans and minority loans for women, startups, and entrepreneurs.

Formerly Accion Texas, the company re-branded to LiftFund early last year. The new name and logo aims to communicate elevation and success, creating a strong presence to support customers and partners.

LiftFund joined the Chamber to support the local small business community, develop relationships and create networking opportunities. Their biggest challenge is very few people know about what they offer, however they have overcome this obstacle by partnering up with banks, chambers of commerce, economic development centers, the U.S. Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Center, and other community organizations to create awareness of their services.

Contact information:


1475 Ruben M. Torres Blvd.

Chase Bank Building

Brownsville, TX 78520

P: (888) 215-2373


President’s Message – January 2016

HRBCC-42Greetings! It’s hard to believe that February is just around the corner—but it is. As the largest, pro-business, member-centric organization, we represent the interests of 873 businesses. Our members range from “Mom-and-Pop” shops, manufacturers, and nonprofits that create the safety net that improves our quality of life, to hospitals and health care organizations that heal and care for our loved ones. While all of them may have different business needs, they all share on one thing—they count on the Chamber to be their voice and their greatest advocate for economic growth opportunities. Since I accepted the role as the President/CEO in June, the board of directors, staff, and I have spent time meeting with members and listening to their needs. We hear you loud and clear! You want a return on your investment. That’s what we aim to do.

Over the next few months, we will re-launch events such as speed networking, the business-to- botana expo, and other new innovative programs and events. Also, we have expanded our list of collaborative partners to offer more professional development activities. Through Chamber University, we offer over 40 professional programs and workshops focused on helping business owners and nonprofit organizations grow and prosper their businesses and organizations. We invite you to take advantage of your membership by attending member orientation events, known as Chamber Connect. These events will help you learn how to enhance your membership directory and build your online presence, how to get involved and connected, and how to get access to key experts in areas such as marketing, social media, and human resources. Of course, everyone loves a great networking social, so we are pleased to partner with local corporations to bring you seasonal favorites such as the Charro Days Mixer and the Freedom Mixer in July.

There are numerous ways to get involved and stay connected. Join a committee! The Bienvenidos Committee welcomes new businesses to our city, our Governmental Affairs Committee keeps us connected with our state and federal legislators, and the International Trade and Logistics Committee works to improve trade relations and economic opportunities. The Transportation Committee advocates for traffic and mobility improvements, while the Small Business Development Committee keeps our members engaged by offering programs and events focused on using our “voice and influence” to leverage our collective resources to create a vibrant and sustainable local economy. If you want the Chamber to truly work for you—we invite you to get involved, increase your network of support, expand your expertise, and become a part of growing movement to make our business community more prosperous.

¡Adelante! Together—We are the Chamber!

Melinda Rodriguez

Chairwoman’s Message – Dec. 2015

Olga GonzalezGreetings –

‘Tis the season! Brownsville loves the holidays, and for many of our members it’s the busiest time of the year. I hope it’s turning out to be a season that will exceed your expectations, and that you’ll also find some time to enjoy with those you love.

The leadership gavel was handed to me as the new Chair of our Board of Directors on December 3rd at our Annual Leadership Luncheon. It’s an honor for me to serve the Chamber in this way, and let me take a moment on behalf of us all to thank our outgoing Chairman, Humphrey G. Thomas, for all his hard work over the past year. In addition to the regular duties of a Chairman, he ably led us through a time of transition and the appointment of a new CEO. Thank you, Humphrey.

We were honored to have as keynote speaker for our Leadership Luncheon, the Honorable Carlos H. Cascos, Texas Secretary of State. Mr. Cascos gave an inspiring talk about economic development in Brownsville.

On October 13th, in collaboration with the Port of Brownsville, the Chamber hosted a Public Affairs Luncheon at the Events Center. 150 members turned out to hear a panel presenting information on “LNG in the Rio Grande Valley”; the panel was made up of executives from the three proposed LNG companies: Annova LNG, Rio Grande LNG, and Texas LNG. If you weren’t able to attend, a number of questions were asked and you will find the panel members’ answers published in this e-Newsletter.

Then, on November 19th, we celebrated the beginning of a new chapter in the Chamber’s history with the Grand Re-opening of our beautifully modernized facility. State Representative Eddie Lucio III presented a resolution praising the chamber for its “commitment to the prosperity and vitality of the community” and “lasting, positive impact in the lives of area residents.”

Those who took a tour at the open house saw that it’s an impressive building for our staff to work and welcome the community in, but as our president and CEO, Melinda Rodriguez, has said, this much needed renovation was done “with the members we serve in mind.”

Speaking of our membership, it was our great pleasure to welcome 16 new members during October and November. Let me take this opportunity to again welcome them; it’s great to be part of such a vibrant and growing Chamber.

Looking ahead to a couple of upcoming events:

In the new year, we are partnering with “All In” Brownsville to host a State of Education Luncheon. You might recall that this was previously planned for November, but had to be postponed. It will now take place at the Ambassador Event Center from 11:30am to 1:30pm on Tuesday, January 5th. The United Way of Southern Cameron County will be releasing their 2016 Indicator Report on Education and Human Capital. Also, a featured panel will include representatives from Brownsville Independent School District, Harmony Science Academy, IDEA Public Schools, Saint Joseph Academy, South Texas Independent School District, Texas Southmost College, and The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

And finally, mark your calendar now for the Business to Botana Expo. This is a great annual event that attracts more than 100 booth vendors and 1,000 attendees.

There are many more great things ahead in 2016. I look forward to meeting many of you, and continuing to explore ways that we can all strengthen each other as part of this great Chamber.

We are better together!

Olga Gonzalez
Chairwoman of the Board

Vice President, Rio Bank

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