Chairman's Vision for 2015

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January 21, 2015
Rob Killen believes that members of the business community have an obligation to give back their time and energies to help develop tomorrow’s leaders and build a strong environment for economic development in the San Antonio area. 
 
“I have learned and benefited from those who came before, and I feel that it is our duty to help prepare and support the next generation of leaders,” says Rob regarding his philosophy on service. “If you have benefited from the investments made by those current and past leaders, then it is your obligation to reach out and lift someone else up. Paying back this investment of time and resources is critical to the future of San Antonio and the region.”
 
Rob’s passion for service developed during his college years as President of UTSA Student Government and President of the Lambda Chi Alpha chapter. In law school he served as articles editor of the Law Review and President of the Phi Delta Phi chapter. His dedication to community involvement continued into his professional career as President of the UTSA Alumni Association, President of the Lambda Chi Alpha San Antonio Alumni Association, Chair of the North Chamber Business Development Council and Government Affairs Council and as a member of the VIA Citizens Advisory Council.
 
As an attorney and Vice President of Kaufman Killen, a San Antonio-based law firm and member of the North Chamber since 1985, Rob advises and represents clients in the areas of land use entitlements, economic development incentives and local governmental relations. As the 2015 Chairman of the Board of the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, Rob will take up the legacy of previous chairs by focusing on leadership development and public policy advocacy at the local and state levels.
 
“The North Chamber will be at the forefront of planning for new roads, water supply, and jobs, while cultivating the next generation of community leaders. We will be proactive in fighting for business-friendly policies while expanding leadership development opportunities,” Rob explains.
 
During his tenure as chairman, the North Chamber will expand initiatives to foster tomorrow’ leaders through two of Rob’s passions: engaging the chamber membership to go out into the community and give back through their involvement; and organizing members to be heard as we advocate for issues affecting the business community.
 
Opening Doors of Leadership Opportunity
The North Chamber has a 40-year history of building businesses and leaders. This year, the North Chamber will work towards grooming better leaders within the community overall. That means bringing volunteers up through committee ranks to higher levels of service, having North Chamber members represented in citizen advisory groups, and targeting other generations of professionals for membership, involvement and training. 
 
“I want to help our members achieve success personally and professionally, and to see their companies be successful within their respective industries,” says Rob.
 
There are numerous opportunities for members to hone their skills through programs like the nine-month Leadership Lab academy, monthly Networking Breakfasts, and annual Enterprising Women’s Conference to name a few. Chamber programs provide professionals with a range of skills from marketing to finance and business operations. Just about everything the North Chamber offers is an opportunity to connect people and help members expand their professional network.
 
“As an organization, we have a life that extends beyond a year, five years or 20 years,” says Rob. “We have a number of outstanding leaders who have shepherded this organization and the community for years, but many are now retiring or stepping back. We must mentor succeeding generations to ensure there is no gap in leadership for our chamber and the community,” says Rob.
 
In 2014, the North Chamber launched college student memberships and the initiative will continue. Through this endeavor, the North Chamber is affording workforce-ready young people the opportunity to meet professional members, get involved, learn about community initiatives, share information, gain visibility and develop skills through their involvement.
 
A Voice for Business
The North Chamber has a demonstrated commitment to infrastructure and economic development.
 
“San Antonio is strategically positioned to be a catalyst for economic growth. We cannot take our foot off the gas with regards to funding for higher education, water resources and transportation infrastructure, and we will continue to identify growth opportunities for Texans,” says Rob. These ideals are reflected in our 2015 Legislative Agenda.
 
The North Chamber is hosting a Legislative Day in February to offer members face time with the Bexar Delegation and ensure their voices are heard on important business issues. But, Rob says, it’s the unexpected issue that could be the most crucial. “We will need to be vigilant to see what the legislature will look like. We don’t know what challenges we might face in 2015, but we will be prepared to respond quickly.”
 
Blending the chairman’s first priority, leadership cultivation, with his second, advocacy, Rob will guide the North Chamber to encourage more business-friendly representation on City Council and on citizen advisory groups.
 
“We need a more professional city council that can spend the necessary time focusing on running a big city with a big budget. To recruit and keep good City Councilmembers, we need to pay them a living wage. We don’t know how much that should be yet, but I know $20 a week is too low,” he explains.
 
The North Chamber will endeavor to educate our members on Council pay. Rob believes more people would be willing to serve if they didn’t have to work two full-time jobs and could still support their families. He also suggests that a Councilmember who’s focused on public service will be in a position to make better public policy decisions – and that can be the deciding factor when major companies opt to locate to or expand existing operations in San Antonio.
 
Finally, Rob proposes that those same elected or appointed local officials often make decisions in a vacuum, without full regard for total impact on jobs and economic growth.
 
“I often hear comments from the business community that boards and commissions don’t have enough volunteers with a business background. As a Chamber, we will actively recruit our members for positions to City, County, SAWS, CPS and other citizen boards and commissions to advise policymakers,” Rob adds.
 
Business Resources
“The resources that we bring in terms of providing training, advocacy, networking, recognition, and marketing are valuable to large and small businesses alike,” says Rob, “but for those who have fewer resources – we have them for you.”
 
Over the last few years, the North Chamber has made a concentrated effort to move to the cutting edge of technology to improve operations, business services and community engagement. Most recently, the North Chamber converted to a new member management software that allows staff to better manage member information, involvement and events while offering members new resources to help you market your business on the web and monitor online traffic to your content on northsachamber.com.
 
Be a part of it.
“We bring to the table a much broader diversity of backgrounds than other trade organizations,” Rob asserts. “I want you to serve on committees, attend events, and participate. The more engaged you are, the more you get out of it.”
 
Rob is dedicated to creating meaningful member impact and nurturing enthusiastic members that want to be engaged and can’t wait to share with others what they’re getting out of their involvement.
 
“I want to ensure that the North Chamber has a positive effect on our business community by providing programs that help members grow their businesses and individuals grow personally and professionally.  We fight for the rights of our businesses. We inform the community about policy making, new laws and regulations and how to plan for their business. I invite you to join us in our efforts and be a part of it!”