Chairman's Reflection on 2016

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December 21, 2016
As I reflect on 2016, I look back with pride and gratitude. I want to express my appreciation to the North SA Chamber and Lead SA Board of Directors, all of the countless volunteers, members, staff and community partners who contributed to the success of this organization and the pursuit of our mission.
I emphasized the importance of service at the beginning of my year as Chairman. As a native San Antonian, I have had the pleasure of seeing this city make some incredible progress as a direct result of the leaders who have served our community. I have been humbled by this year of service and am grateful for each and every volunteer that chose to come on this journey with me.
Advocating for Business
In 2016, we reconnected with the common thread that ties all of our 1,200 members together. We found that although businesses join our chamber for a number of varying reasons and benefits, all of our members and our community at large benefit from the work that the North SA Chamber does in advocacy.  As we identify issues that impact our community, I am proud to say that our leadership and Board of Directors make decisions based on what improves our business climate and our city – not our popularity or our political stance.
Early this year our Board of Directors expressed our support to the Mayor and City Council members for the restructuring of the San Antonio Convention & Visitor’s Bureau to become a designated not-for-profit 501(c)(6) organization. On October 6th, the city council approved the proposal, agreeing that the organization’s new status would provide more effectiveness in accomplishing its mission and thus, more visibility and competitiveness for our city nationwide.
In September, the North SA Chamber was the only chamber in Bexar County to join in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Texas Association of Business and various trade organizations in a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Labor seeking to stop the implementation of new overtime rules set to go into effect December 1, 2016. Our reason for joining in the lawsuit was that we felt the Department's unprecedented doubling of the minimum salary threshold would have significant adverse effects on small businesses, nonprofits, and their employees. Because the new threshold proposed was so drastic, it had the potential to force employers to demote or lay-off workers in order to meet the requirements. On November 23rd, a U.S. Federal judge issued an injunction to halt the implementation of this rule throughout the U.S. This injunction will provide more time to find a new approach that makes business climates effective and fair for all.
As a part of our mission to be an advocate, we feel it is important to bring our business members face-to-face with key decision makers in our legislature. In November, the North SA Chamber hosted our very first Legislative Reception – offering attendees one-on-one interaction with Texas State Senators and State Representatives for an evening of discussion on issues that can affect our businesses in the 85th Legislative Session. Planning for the 2017 session was a promise I made in my vision for this year and am proud that we were able to get the process started and listen to your thoughts on what the North SA Chamber needs to include in their agenda for this critical year ahead.

Engaging Offline & Online
Engagement was the word of 2016 for the North Chamber. Engaging community partners, new members and existing members was a huge focus for our board and staff and we recognized that we had to make these connections online and offline. We started our Engagement Campaign by rolling out a new series called “Did You Know”. We reformatted our newsletter and marketing materials to give quick facts aimed at informing our members and the community about member benefits and advocacy work that we do on a daily basis. We were pleased to see so much involvement from our members and an increase in awareness overall. This campaign shed light onto our mission and helped us to bring in 115 new members during a two-day period in March. Thank you to each of our volunteers who helped to communicate the message of the North SA Chamber and introduce these new members to our culture of keeping Bexar County strong.
Our event programming continued to support the ever-evolving needs of our members and offered good opportunities to engage and connect offline. The North SA Chamber dedicated June to playing a role in cybersecurity education. We co-hosted a full day Cybersecurity Conference featuring keynote speaker, Congressman Will Hurd and offered a small business application at our monthly Networking Breakfast series. In addition to our Legislative Reception, we continued to keep our members connected with elected officials through our sold out State of the County Address with Judge Nelson Wolff and the Mayor’s Vision for San Antonio featuring Mayor Ivy R. Taylor. In a more intimate setting we hosted events with our Chairman’s Council members and community partners offering presentations by San Antonio Economic Development Foundation President & CEO, Jenna Saucedo-Herrera; UTSA Head Football Coach, Frank Wilson; UTSA Head Basketball Coach, Steve Henson; and an Economic Outlook by Dr. Ray Perryman. We continued our partnership with IBC Bank and area chambers to offer SA Conversations – bringing our members face-to-face with U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (CO); Jerry Moran (KS); and our own Senator and Majority Whip John Cornyn. Our Technology Council continued their annual CIO Panel luncheon and breakfast series in addition to offering several Optimizing Business events focused on utilizing people, process, and technology to accelerate business and bottom line. Our Enterprising Women’s Conference was modified into a half-day professional development conference culminating with the presentation of all 3 of the ATHENA Leadership Awards – only available in Texas through the North SA Chamber. Financial experts shared best practices at quarterly CFO Forums, and managers and HR professionals received the latest labor guidelines at the annual Employment Law Update. Perhaps one of our most heartwarming events happened in October as we celebrated ‘An Evening of Stars’ at the Witte Museum’s new Mays Family Center – recognizing 12 deserving small business leaders in our city for our 2016 Small Business Leaders Awards. Our members enjoyed opportunities for involvement, networking and camaraderie across the board. Whether it was sitting in on our Government Affairs or Infrastructure committees, hitting the greens for our annual golf tournament or enjoying a local speaker at our monthly Networking Breakfasts, the North Chamber continues to create event programming that meets your business needs.
The same dedication goes into our efforts online. We continue to promote our members and their services through our robust marketing benefits and access to our members-only Member Information Center. We’ve shared our story and our culture through social media posts and video testimonials showcasing how each of our members finds unique benefit in their membership.
Developing Future Leaders
The North SA Chamber continues to find opportunities to involve the next generation of leaders. In 2016 we welcomed 11 new board members, who serve as leaders in their organizations and our community. They have served as chairs of our committees, welcomed and facilitated new member relationships and made decisions for the future of our organization.
We continue to keep our flagship leadership and professional development course, Leadership Lab, up-to-date with the most current assessments, training and research. Did you know that almost 1,000 students have attended Leadership Lab since its inception in 1999, representing over 200 companies in San Antonio? In my vision I spoke about continuing to utilize this program to groom new leaders not only within our companies but within our community and education system. During the April session of Lab we were able to bring in 75 students from local universities to sit with our Leadership Lab class during a facilitated luncheon discussion on values in leadership. I would like to congratulate the 80 students from the Class of 2016 who completed their 9 month journey of professional development and leadership. We look forward to seeing you bring your new knowledge back to your organizations.
In 2016 I wanted to honor our past and prepare for the future. We were able to recognize some outstanding individuals in our community who contributed to building San Antonio into what it is today and we continue to honor them in the decisions we make going forward. We have built a solid foundation and developed momentum for the future efforts of the North SA Chamber.  As I pass the baton onto a great leader in our community, I invite you to join me in welcoming Phyllis Gallay as your 2017 Chairman. This organization survives because of the men and women who contribute their time, talent and service to make our city a better place to live. I thank you for allowing me to serve as your Chairman this year.