Chairman’s Vision for 2014

Turner_Annie-Chairmans-photo-PRAnnie Turner
VP/Business Banking Manager, Wells Fargo
2014 Chairman of the Board, North SA Chamber

Annie Turner was born and raised in Laredo, Texas and was one of eight children. She attended Baylor University where she earned a degree in journalism, and one summer thereafter started working at what she thought would be a temporary job as a teller at Wells Fargo Bank.

Early in her banking career, Annie was offered a role to profile prospective borrowers and prepare loan packages to present for approval. Having an appreciation for small business – her mother a pharmacist and entrepreneur, Annie melded her knowledge of small business and journalism skills to help borrowers build persuasive, informative presentations to get loans and access capital to help grow their small businesses. She stayed on that track throughout her career, and Annie has progressed with Wells Fargo as a manager of lenders assisting small businesses for over 33 years.

She and her husband relocated to San Antonio 15 years ago to raise their family in Boerne. Annie’s management role at Wells Fargo provided her the opportunity to volunteer, and so began her service with Chambers. She served on the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber board for five years, and then transitioned to service on the North SA Chamber board.

Annie says, “The most rewarding part of my Chamber service is the recognition of what small business owners – particularly women business owners – have done in our community.”

Her mother was widowed when Annie was a teenager, and was the sole provider for eight children – of which six were under the age of 16. “I grew up with seven siblings and all of them are professionals. Four are physicians, two are nurses and I am a banker. So education is really important in my family, and I am especially passionate about leadership and helping others along to success and personal and professional growth,” Annie explains.

40 Years of Keeping Bexar County Strong
Now in her sixth year of board service to the North SA Chamber and during the organization’s 40th Anniversary, Annie has demonstrated that commitment through her Chairmanship of the Leadership & Professional Development Council, overseeing the Enterprising Women’s Conference and Leadership Lab programs, and now through her role as the 2014 Chairman of the Board – and as only the seventh woman in 40 years to lead the 1,300-member strong organization.

In 2014, Annie will guide the North SA Chamber to focus on veterans, workforce development, small business advancement, the millennial workforce and community collaboration to promote our mission to strengthen member businesses and the community through the delivery of advocacy, networking, recognition, leadership and professional development programs.

Heeding the Call to Support Veterans
In 2013, the North SA Chamber and our nonprofit arm, Lead SA, recognized USAA chief executive Maj. Gen. Joe Robles, USA Ret. with the Gov. Dolph Briscoe Jr. Salute to Excellence Award. In his acceptance remarks, Gen. Robles said, “You gave me an award, and I’m giving you a challenge.” Gen. Robles appealed to the business community to hire veterans and help them transition from military life to the civilian workforce, and the North SA Chamber is heeding the call.

“This is ‘Military City,’ we should be doing more to offer resources for this segment of our workforce,” says Annie.

The North SA Chamber’s first response is to offer a discounted level of membership for individual and retired veterans, and veteran-owned businesses.

“We have already noted an influx in veteran inquiries in 2013,” Annie explains. “The North SA Chamber recognized the opportunity to expand our relationship with veterans and began offering discounted memberships, and now we’re going to formalize that commitment to all veterans seeking the resources we provide,” she adds.

Workforce Development
Additionally, the North SA Chamber will continue to meet the needs of businesses for a readied workforce and ongoing professional development. First, the North Chamber launched a Job Bank in late 2013, and the online search tool is a free community resource to job seekers.

“We will promote the Job Bank heavily in 2014 to veterans, transitioning professionals, college students and recent grads,” says Annie. In this way, the North Chamber will help veterans to access career opportunities and assist member employers with an additional no-cost tool to access a larger pool of applicants.

“So many business owners are looking for qualified people. If you have a qualified workforce, then that just improves the community overall,” says Annie. “The North SA Chamber can help veterans, millennial workers and just about every professional in any interest area to access resources to sharpen their professional skills and build relationships through our various instructional and networking events and volunteer opportunities,” she adds.

The North Chamber offers a myriad of instructional programs starting with Leadership Lab, the Chamber’s nine-month leadership development academy. Annie describes Leadership Lab as “our top tool to help our member businesses develop the leaders in their companies, retain talent and aid in succession plan strategies.” Additionally, the Chamber will continue to offer a wide range of education topics from technology and finance to sustainability, women’s leadership, social media, small business operations and more.

Moreover, recognizing the growing time scarcity among busy professionals, the North SA Chamber is exploring online training offerings to provide a more vast range of course topics and to accommodate members’ busy schedules.

Small Business Advancement
Approximately 75% of the North SA Chamber’s membership is comprised of small businesses, and the organization will continue to advance small business in the coming year. Since 1996, the Chamber has been recognizing the efforts and accomplishments of entrepreneurs through a program that started as the Pride in Progress Awards and evolved to become the Small Business Leaders Awards (SBLA). Having grown tremendously over almost two decades, SBLA honors small businesses across multiple categories including innovation, community service, employee relations, career and business achievement, and new in 2014 – veteran-owned businesses and smaller non-profits who operate much like a small business.

Annie’s husband is also an entrepreneur, and she says, “I know what it takes to run a business and how hard they work. They need the resources a Chamber provides. That’s why I love my job as a banker and my service to the Chamber so much.”

Through Annie’s direct experience in lending at Wells Fargo, she says that more than ever millennial workers are interested in starting their own businesses. According to Forbes magazine, in 2013 millennial workers were making the transition to freelancing and business ownership in droves. “Previous generations wanted the security of a 9 to 5 job. Millennial professionals are more creative and independent, and they want to work on their terms,” she adds.

Annie sees an opportunity for the North SA Chamber to expand its reach to attract millennial professionals to make the North Chamber their Chamber of choice. “We’re working to offer new individual levels of membership for college students, recent grads and transitioning professionals,” says Annie. “We are seeing much younger professionals, and it’s important to get them engaged early on,” she adds. Annie says the key is to connect with them across social media and online channels. An area of professional development that Annie feels is just as important for mature businesses to adopt.

“Business needs to get on the train with social media. It’s our responsibility to educate them and show them how,” she says. This is an area the North SA Chamber addresses through Social U, a social media university for savvy marketers and professionals with a vested interest in the profitability of marketing initiatives.

Advocating for Business
Founded in 1974, the North SA Chamber had the foresight to anticipate San Antonio’s future growth beyond downtown, and we’ve continued to play a major role in shaping and defining solutions for urban and quality of life issues including transportation infrastructure, water quality and supply, energy diversification, economic and workforce development, health and wellness, technology and education.

The North SA Chamber government affairs committee and board will work with members and community partners to develop, present and endorse a Legislative Agenda for the 2015 session. “We have a long history of supporting the advancement of higher education in our immediate community,” explains Annie. “The next Legislative Session will be no different. We will advocate for Tuition Revenue Bonds for growing state institutions including Texas A&M – San Antonio, the University of Texas at San Antonio, and the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.” As with the 2013 Legislative Session, the North SA Chamber will look to partner with other Chambers of Commerce, trade and civic groups to ensure “our voice is loud, clear and unified before legislators that higher education is a need for our community.”

Once again, we will advocate for funds for transportation infrastructure and work with the San Antonio Mobility Coalition and Alamo Regional Mobility Authority to press for funding alternatives for projects that best leverage our resources and benefit the residents and businesses of Bexar County and surrounding areas.

Annie’s position is that, “Roads and highways are a productivity issue. Time is money. Our workforce is much more productive in the office than they are sitting in a car.” She says well-planned roadways attract business to San Antonio and keep them here. “It’s a quality of life issue with economic impact consequences.”

Be a part of it.
Over the last 40 years, the North SA Chamber has left an indelible mark on the city with our culture of entrepreneurialism and cooperation. Today, the North SA Chamber has earned a reputation as one of the state’s most dynamic and inclusive trade organizations. Resolute in our efforts to advocate for business and education, recognize deserving leaders and provide professional development – we deliver opportunities to make results-oriented business-to-business connections.

“I invite each of our members to do what they can to engage in that 40-year legacy and join us in our efforts,” says Annie. “The North SA Chamber has only come this far because of the commitment, dedication and action of our volunteers. We need your involvement more than ever. Thank you to our board, volunteers, members and supporters for all you do to keep Bexar County strong. And I look forward to working with you and serving you in 2014!”