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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

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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