Chairman's Reflection on 2014

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December 12, 2014
Annie Turner - Wells Fargo, Vice PresidentAs I reflect on the North Chamber’s 40th year of service to San Antonio, I want to express my gratitude to the North Chamber and Lead SA Board of Directors, Chamber volunteers, members, staff and community partners for your time, help and contributions that have made 2014 a truly exceptional year. 
The last year demonstrated that we can accomplish great things when staff, volunteers and like-minded groups work together. I’m proud of the progress the North Chamber has made to cultivate a strong workforce, serve veterans, advance small business, and engage younger professionals and the wider community as we promote our mission to strengthen business through the delivery of advocacy, networking, recognition, leadership and professional development programs.
Workforce Development
We know that business owners are looking for qualified people. The North Chamber Job Bank assisted member employers with an additional no-cost tool to access a larger pool of applicants, and we promoted it to veterans, transitioning professionals, college students and recent grads. Members posted approximately 80 jobs that ranged from social services and marketing to construction, education, finance, media and internships.
Our Ambassador Committee has welcomed over 50 businesses to the San Antonio community through ribbon cuttings, grand openings and ground breaking ceremonies. Additionally, the North Chamber has provided nearly 8,000 professionals from a range of industries access to resources that build relationships and sharpen their professional skills through our various instructional and networking events and volunteer opportunities.
Starting with Leadership Lab, the Chamber’s nine-month leadership development academy, I am pleased to congratulate the 80 professionals who graduated in November. I know their employers join me in recognizing the dedication demonstrated by each of the participants as they prepared for lessons, attended sessions and gave of their time to create a meaningful experience and apply the curriculum in their respective work places.
Additionally, we served our diverse membership with professional development targeted to a variety of specialties and interest areas. Technology professionals came together at monthly CIO Breakfasts, held thought-provoking discussion on the convergence of marketing and technology at the CIO Panel luncheon at Innotech and explored a variety of topics at the Business Technology Series. Financial experts shared best practices at quarterly CFO Forums, and managers and HR folks received the latest labor guidelines at the annual Employment Law Update. The facilities, construction and design community came together to address preserving the future at the annual SustainAbility Conference and women leaders sought tools for work-life balance at the Enterprising Women’s Conference. Business owners addressed succession planning at On the Horizon and digital marketing pros heard from thought leaders on social media and online marketing at Social U. An array of topics from health care and health and wellness to emotional intelligence and effective communication were presented at monthly Networking Breakfasts, quarterly How 2 Series and the new monthly Power Lunch.
Moreover, recognizing the growing time scarcity among busy professionals, the North SA Chamber launched an Online Training Shop to accommodate member schedules and provide a vast range of course topics. Members can order cost-effective training, manage employee access and track completion from a computer anytime, anywhere.
Small Business Advancement
We’ve been working hard this year to deliver for our business members of every size. We have endeavored to amplify your involvement with added value products like special rates for employee benefits, and we launched the North SA Chamber Member Benefit Solutions program by MetLife that offers members with 2 to 999 employees, access to competitive group rates for life, dental, disability and vision coverage.
We recognized the efforts and accomplishments of entrepreneurs and business leaders through the Small Business Leaders Awards (SBLA) and ATHENA Leadership Awards Program®. Over almost two decades SBLA has honored 140 small businesses across multiple categories including innovation, community service, employee relations, career and business achievement, and new in 2014 – veteran-owned businesses and non-profits. The first SBLA award for veteran-owned business was presented to Bede Ramcharan, Indatatech, and the inaugural non-profit organization award was presented to Gloria Canseco, San Antonio Christian Dental Clinic. 2014 SBLA Award Recipients
Since 1994, we have honored 33 rising stars, seasoned professionals and model organizations with the ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award, ATHENA Leadership Award and ATHENA Organizational Leadership Award. 2014 ATHENA Award Recipients Congratulations to all of the honorees and it’s a privilege to recognize these leaders and their organizations.
Moreover, we accepted a challenge from USAA chief executive Maj. Gen. Joe Robles, USA Ret. to hire and support our veterans transitioning to civilian life. We established a discounted membership for veteran-owned businesses, and have since had the pleasure of showing our gratitude for the service of more than a dozen veterans who are seeking the resources we provide. 
We are preparing to bridge the leadership gap as Baby Boomers begin to exit the workforce and the next generation of leaders emerge. The North Chamber has aimed to continue to cultivate generation X and engage millennial professionals to make the North Chamber their Chamber of choice. Last May, through the generosity of a grant by State Farm, the North Chamber launched the addition of college student membership to our community offerings. The first 10 student members were welcomed from the UTSA College of Business. Not long after, Bartlett Cocke and Wells Fargo sponsored an additional 20 students, and 10 more student members joined us from Texas A&M University – San Antonio.
Additionally, the North Chamber launched new resources to help you manage your chamber membership, market your business on the web and monitor online traffic to your content on The North Chamber converted to a new member software application that provides new website features to help you market your business in the Member Directory; promote an event through the Calendar of Events; post RFPs and search for procurement and business development opportunities; market your product/service through the MarketSpace online member store; recruit talent through a more robust Job Bank; and advertise your product/service through public or member-to-member Hot Deals.

Advocating for Business
It has been an important year for North Chamber advocacy efforts. Our government affairs committee, board and staff have worked with members and community partners to connect our membership to their elected officials and communicate our positions on important issues.
We have embarked on an effective collaboration with IBC Bank and area chambers to deliver SA Conversations, which are a series of discussions for the business community to hear from elected officials - beyond the Texas delegation - who serve in critical roles in commerce, transportation, entrepreneurship and other areas for the purpose of addressing the critical issues that affect enterprise. To date we worked with the San Antonio, San Antonio Hispanic and South San Antonio Chambers to bring our members face-to-face with key policy makers including Senators Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio, and the Speaker of the House John Boehner.
When Mayor Julián Castro was nominated and confirmed as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development for the Obama administration, San Antonio reached to Washington, DC and City Council elected an interim Mayor from their ranks. Mayor Ivy Taylor serves as our city’s first African-American Mayor and the North Chamber was proud to host Mayor Taylor for her first major public address at the annual Mayor’s Vision for San Antonio event in August.
At that time, we were advocating against the proposed Storm Water Fee rate and methodology restructuring. We were successful in our efforts to remove the fee for consideration from the 2015 City budget, and we continue to work with the City and other stakeholders to identify an alternative approach to addressing a Storm Water Fee rate increase.
The North Chamber board of directors endorsed Proposition 1 – the constitutional amendment to provide for the transfer of certain general revenue to the economic stabilization and state highway funds, and we are so pleased that citizens turned out to vote for and pass this amendment on Election Day. Our board also endorsed the Vista Ridge Water Pipeline Project – a project that will deliver water for 162,000 households, 20% more water for San Antonio and protect the Edwards Aquifer during drought. We are thrilled that the City Council voted to approve the project. A strong transportation infrastructure and water resources are fundamental to Texas’ quality of life and economic vitality.
Be a part of it.
As I exit my post as Chairman of the Board, I reflect with pride on my association with this great Chamber, your support and efforts, and all that we have accomplished on behalf of our membership and community.
It is the continued energy and execution from committed individuals like all of you that has delivered the North Chamber to this 40th year of service. It has been my honor to continue the legacy of progress that I inherited from previous Chairs, and to confer this responsibility to your very capable 2015 Chairman, Rob Killen of Kaufman Killen.
I invite each of you to remain engaged, support Rob and the North Chamber, and join us as we prepare for the next 40 years of service to San Antonio. Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Chairman, for your membership and for all you do to keep Bexar County strong.