Pilot meter program part of larger effort to modernize aging electrical grid

Last year, CPS Energy installed 40,000 automated digital meters in a handful of neighborhoods around the city as part of a pilot program to make sure they work accurately and reliably before the utility installs the new meters system-wide by the end of 2016. CPS Energy is now in the final stages of selecting a vendor for the new meters. Once that process is complete, it will begin rolling them out to all customers.

As that process moves forward, the CPS Energy blog will address concerns about perceived privacy, accuracy and health issues, as well as costs, customer benefits and other areas in which our customers express interest. In the coming weeks, the CPS Energy blog will post stories that delve into each issue. We’ll talk to experts, advocates and detractors, and look at the latest science has to offer.

Here’s a link to our first story about the importance of building a modern grid.

Wells Fargo Donates $300,000 to Accion Texas

From left: Marianne Watson, senior vice president of Wells Fargo in San Antonio and Accion Texas board member; Janie Barrera, Accion Texas president and CEO; Steve Arnold, Wells Fargo area president for the San Antonio market; and Jennifer Moriarty, Wells Fargo vice president of community development.

Accion Texas Inc. – which manages the nation’s largest microloan portfolio – has received a $300,000 grant from Wells Fargo to create a small business incubator at the nonprofit organization’s future two-acre campus on the city’s West Side.

Earlier this year, Accion announced a $5.5 million capital campaign to build a new Lending and Learning Entrepreneurial Center.  The Wells Fargo grant is earmarked for that campaign and will fund a free-standing 2,000-square-foot Wells Fargo Small Business Incubator on the new campus.  The incubator will help entrepreneurs start, sustain and grow new enterprises throughout San Antonio and South Texas.

“We are honored and delighted to receive this generous gift from Wells Fargo,” said Accion Texas President and CEO Janie Barrera.  “Not only does it bring us closer to our capital campaign goal, it is a vote of confidence in our work and mission – and it demonstrates our shared commitment to creating a nurturing environment for small businesses to obtain the tools they need to succeed.  The new incubator will substantially expand our outreach.”

Steve Arnold, Wells Fargo area president for the San Antonio market, said the gift celebrates the company’s ongoing partnership with Accion.  “We have worked with Accion since the first day it opened its doors in 1994 as board member, funder and as a referral partner. Our missions are very much the same.

We strongly believe in helping small businesses and entrepreneurs realize their dreams,” Arnold added.  “Financial success takes hard work and vision.  This new incubator will provide hands-on experience and training for men and women who have the desire to create their own businesses and to build a better future for themselves and their families.  This is economic development at the grassroots level and it will translate to a stronger, more vibrant San Antonio community.”

Accion’s $5.5 million capital campaign, “We Believe,” was publicly announced on June 15.  More than half of the goal has been raised to date.

The Accion Lending and Learning Entrepreneurial Center – to be located on a two-acre site at 2015 W. Martin Street in the historic Prospect Hill area — will consolidate the organization’s San Antonio operations under one roof, creating a “one stop” location for small business lending, education, technical assistance, training and support.

“Our new campus will allow us to better serve San Antonio, the state of Texas and some of the most economically challenged areas of the country,” Barrera said.

About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a nationwide, diversified, community-based financial services company with $1.4 trillion in assets. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wells Fargo provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage, and consumer and commercial finance through more than 9,000 stores, 12,000 ATMs, the Internet (www.wellsfargo.com), and has offices in more than 35 countries to support the bank’s customers who conduct business in the global economy. With more than 265,000 team members, Wells Fargo serves one in three households in the United States.  Wells Fargo & Company was ranked No. 26 on Fortune’s 2012 rankings of America’s largest corporations. Wells Fargo’s vision is to satisfy all our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially.

About Accion Texas Inc.
Established in 1994 in San Antonio, Accion Texas Inc.’s financial and business-support services help entrepreneurs strengthen their businesses, stabilize and increase their incomes, create employment and contribute to the economic revitalization of their communities. Accion has the nation’s largest microlender portfolio and is committed to providing capital to entrepreneurs who do not have access to loans from commercial sources. Since its inception, Accion has made nearly 13,000 loans totaling more than $130 million. Accion now operates in eight states – Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas.    For more information, visit www.acciontexas.org.

Crimson Real Estate Fund and USAA Real Estate Company Acquire Urban Infill Land in Manhattan

Crimson Real Estate Fund, L.P. (CREF), and its co-investment partner, USAA Real Estate Company, have acquired an urban infill multifamily development site in New York.  Patrinely Group, an affiliate of CREF, will co-develop the property along with DHA Capital LLC, a New York-based real estate development firm.

The 0.634 acre site is located at 546 W. 44th Street on Manhattan’s west side. The proposed project will have 298 units of market rate (80 percent) and affordable (20 percent) housing in addition to a full complement of amenities. The two-building project is slated to begin construction in the first quarter of 2014.

Crimson Real Estate Fund, a real estate opportunity fund, is managed by Crimson Real Estate Advisors, L.P., based in Houston.  USAA Real Estate Company is the largest single investor in CREF and also co-invests alongside CREF, which serves as the sponsor/operating partner. CREF acquires and repositions real estate opportunities in key growth markets across the United States.

“We are pleased to be entering the market with a well-located site with USAA and working with DHA Capital, whose principal Dan Hollander is experienced in developing Class A multifamily properties in Manhattan,” said Dean Patrinely, managing principal of Crimson Real Estate Advisors.

About Crimson Real Estate Advisors, LP
Crimson and its affiliates have acquired and developed assets valued in excess of $3 billion over the past 25 years. For more information, visit www.crimsonrealestateadvisors.com.

About USAA Real Estate Company
USAA Real Estate Company, with approximately $12 billion in assets under management, provides co-investment, acquisition, build-to-suit and development services for corporate and institutional investors.  The USAA portfolio consists of office, industrial, retail and hotel properties as well as investments in real estate operating companies. USAA Real Estate Company is a subsidiary of USAA, a leading financial services company, serving military families since 1922. For more information, visit www.usrealco.com.

About Patrinely Group, LLC
Patrinely Group, an affiliate of Crimson Real Estate Fund, is as a national real estate development firm specializing in commercial office and residential projects throughout the United States. Finding innovative solutions for our clients has been at the heart of the Patrinely Group experience for 30 years.

About DHA Capital
DHA Capital LLC is a New York-based real estate development and investment firm.  DHA focuses on the development of high-quality urban infill real estate projects. The firm offers its partners and clients a long history of hands-on real estate experience covering multiple asset types.  DHA Principals have successfully developed $2.5 billion in residential mixed-use development and have a combined 30-year track record of successful projects.

San Antonio donates more than 1 million pounds of food in November

Photo cutline: Security Service Federal Credit Union volunteers collected turkeys and food in November for the month-long Food 4 SA Food Drive with a helping hand (beak? claw?) from Swoop, mascot for the San Antonio Talons football team.

With help from thousands of generous families across the San Antonio area, the San Antonio Food Bank with partners Security Service Federal Credit Union (SSFCU), Tesoro, H-E-B, the San Antonio Express-News, News 4 WOAI and Magic 105.3 has announced that Food 4 SA has met and exceeded its million pound goal, reaching a total of 1,191,921 pounds of food collected during its month-long Food 4 SA drive in November. One million pounds of food is enough to make more than 780,000 meals.

Helping the San Antonio Food Bank reach its goal, San Antonio students competed to see which school could collect the most food. Forester Elementary, Alamo Heights Jr. High, and Clark High School JROTC came out on top, with each winning school receiving a $250 donation from Security Service Federal Credit Union.

“Hitting our 2012 goal of a million pounds of food just proves how generous our community really is. This is much more than helping provide a meal; it is a message of hope and caring,” says Eric Cooper, president and chief executive officer for the San Antonio Food Bank.

The San Antonio Food Bank counts on the yearlong generosity of donors—ongoing donations can be made online at www.safoodbank.org. Each $10 donated buys 100 pounds for people and families in need.

SSFCU Honored with Juntos Avanzamos Designation


It was a beautiful day for a flag raising ceremony on December 11 as the Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) honored Security Service Federal Credit Union with the prestigious Juntos Avanzamos (Together We Advance) designation which is awarded only to those credit unions that have demonstrated they have the infrastructure, capacity and commitment to serve the financial needs of Hispanic families. The credit union, which offers bilingual member services and financial education, as well as a suite of affordable products and services, went through a painstaking application and review process by TCUL. In honor of the event, Security Service made a donation to Avance-San Antonio, Inc., an organization that works to strengthen families in at-risk communities through parent education and support programs.

Chairman’s Reflection on 2012

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.

Dallahan Promoted to Senior Vice President of Investment Services at Security Service Federal Credit Union

Security Service Federal Credit Union (SSFCU) announced today that John Dallahan has been promoted to senior vice president of Investment Services, responsible for developing and managing the investment and insurance programs and products offered by SSFCU in Texas, Colorado and Utah. Dallahan joined SSFCU as vice president in 2007 with more than 30 years experience in the investment industry.

A graduate of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, Dallahan holds multiple securities industry licenses and serves as an arbitrator through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

About Security Service Federal Credit Union
Security Service Federal Credit Union offers competitive, affordable financial products and services designed to meet the needs of its members. Security Service is an industry-leading financial institution with more than $6.7 billion in assets and more than 900,000 members in Texas, Colorado, Utah and around the world. Headquartered in San Antonio, the credit union is among the top 10 credit unions in the nation and is the largest in San Antonio. Security Service strives to be America’s best credit union and provides the true benefits of credit union membership with financial services of the highest quality and value. Learn more at www.ssfcu.org or call 1-888-415-7878.

Your input needed … How can area colleges meet needs for a skilled workforce?

North SA Chamber members are invited to complete a five-minute survey about higher education institutions in the area. An area insitution of higher education is seeking input from business leaders because they want to know how colleges can meet your needs for a skilled workforce as well as provide future leaders in our community.

To thank you for your time, the first hundred respondents will have an opportunity to donate $50 to the local college of their choice. The donation may be made anonymously or in your name if you choose to provide your contact information (your personal information will not be released and never used in any way for future marketing efforts).

Please complete the survey by December 21st.  To take survery now, click here

Security Service Federal Credit Union announces new service center at 281 and Evans Road

Security Service Federal Credit Union (SSFCU) announced plans to break ground this week on a new 5,000-square-foot service center at 21102 North US Highway 281 in the Plaza at Encino Commons. The location will mark the 26th location for the credit union in the San Antonio area.

The new service center will feature five teller windows, eight member service offices, a night deposit drop box, one drive-up ATM and six drive-up lanes. The service center will also house mortgage and investment services for members.

“We look forward to the completion of our new service center in this rapidly growing area of the community,” said John Worthington, senior vice president for Security Service. “The Plaza at Encino Commons shopping center is expanding quickly and will allow us to offer our members added convenience.”

Construction partners for the project include CF Jordan Construction, Project Control, and John Neugebauer, architect. Larry Baumgardner, CCIM, with the Dominion Advisory Group, Inc., represented SSFCU in the transaction, and P.J. Pfeiffer, Jr., Birnbaum Property Company, represented the seller.


About Security Service Federal Credit Union

Security Service Federal Credit Union offers competitive, affordable financial products and services designed to meet the needs of its members. Security Service is an industry-leading financial institution with more than $6.7 billion in assets and more than 895,000 members in Texas, Colorado, Utah and around the world. Headquartered in San Antonio, the credit union is among the top 10 credit unions in the nation and is the largest in San Antonio. Security Service strives to be America’s best credit union and provides the true benefits of credit union membership with financial services of the highest quality and value. Learn more at www.ssfcu.org or call 1-888-415-7878.