by Larry Anthis
2012 North Chamber Chairman of the Board
Vice President, Frost
The North San Antonio Chamber and Lead SA Board of Directors, our supporters, volunteers and Chamber staff have achieved so much in 2012. When I began my chairmanship in January, the primary objectives for the year were: to meet the needs of the millennial generation; emphasize leadership development; maintain high quality programs; reimagine our connectivity to the community; advocate for business; and broaden member participation.
To that end, the board of directors built a strategic plan to anticipate the current and future needs of our membership over the next three to five years. We executed the agenda immediately and made great strides in communications, leadership cultivation, event support and attendance, membership development and advocacy.
Reimaging our connectivity to San Antonio
In an effort to engage our membership more fully, we conducted a survey, and you, our members, noted the positive impact the North Chamber is having not just on the North side, but also across San Antonio and Bexar County. In response, we refreshed our brand and re-focused our core emphasis on “Keeping Bexar County Strong.” This continues to be a dynamic and evolving chamber because of our volunteer leadership.
You also communicated the importance of relationship building, advocacy, informational programming, participation and visibility. As a result, the North Chamber revised and expanded membership benefits to reflect the resources our members value most, including: communications, visibility, referrals, discounts/offers and exclusive member programming. The result is a new, multi-platform, digital content marketing program that promotes our members and engagement with the larger community.
Engaging with the community and our members
There are several issues on which to focus as a member – whether it’s small business, technology, sustainability, leadership, finance, government affairs, and get involved on a committee. And, due to a varied and diverse program offering, enriching volunteer opportunities and an emphasis on value-packed membership benefits, we increased our membership by 234 members as of November 2012 while achieving an average membership retention rate of approximately 80%.
Furthermore, recognizing our chamber’s ability to make a difference with our excellent programs, Mayor Alan Baxter of Windcrest and the Windcrest Economic Development Corporation (EDC) approached us to deliver a chamber of commerce experience to the businesses of Windcrest. For the first time, the North Chamber added a regional council in partnership with the City of Windcrest and the Windcrest EDC, and the Windcrest Council was started this year.
Advocating for business
Moreover, we successfully advocated for the North Chamber membership on economic development issues including:
- my participation at the 2012 White House Business Summit discussions with the Executive Office and Business Forward;
- board of directors opposition to impromptu zoning changes by the City Council;
- board of directors endorsement of City Bond Election for transportation infrastructure;
- board of directors consensus that led to a decision for the North Chamber to support Pre-K 4 SA as a viable solution to the city’s growing need for an educated workforce;
- my appointment as a 2013 City Commissioner on the Convention & Visitors Bureau through a newly-created appointment for business leadership; and
- my appointment to the 2013 executive committee for the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation.
Just over a decade ago, the North Chamber launched a Capital Campaign to secure $1 million to build and finance our own office building – a first in a city that hosts multiple chambers of commerce. North Chamber members met the campaign financial goals, and in 2002, the doors opened to the North Chamber’s headquarters. I’m proud to say the North Chamber has been an exceptional financial steward, and this year, we have retired the building debt.
Cultivating and recognizing leaders
Additionally, we have continued our commitment to cultivate our community’s emerging leaders. The Leadership Lab Class of 2012 has expanded to 86 graduates – the largest since the program’s inception in 1999. This program too has been re-envisioned and re-focused on empowering leaders, self-discovery and success.
Furthermore, we have continued to honor leaders at every age and career stage. We began the year recognizing Pat Duncan, USAA Real Estate Company, with the San Antonian Award, and later Charlie Amato and Gary Dudley, SWBC, with the Gov. Dolph Briscoe, Jr. Salute to Excellence Award, while 10 other business leaders were recognized through the Small Business Leaders Awards program and the ATHENA Leadership Awards® program.
Keeping Bexar County Strong
In closing, the North Chamber is successful because of our members and your participation. Our board met monthly and consistently focused on topics that addressed the needs of our members. I salute the North Chamber and Lead SA board of directors, our supporters and volunteers, and the hard-working chamber staff led by Duane Wilson for working tirelessly to fulfill our promise to the community to “keep Bexar County strong.”
Finally, as I depart, our incoming Chairman of the Board Brad Rollins, Dahill, is preparing to lead this great organization in 2013. Brad and Dahill have been wonderful supporters of the North Chamber and the San Antonio community and I know you’ll welcome him and his leadership team. The North Chamber is here to help you be noticed, be heard, be informed and be there as we work to strengthen our community. Please get involved and be a part of it all. Thank you for the privilege and honor of serving as your Chairman.