Volunteer Spotlight – Government Affairs Chair: Kevin Connor, Jacobs

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKevin Connor
Jacobs

About the Company: Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. is one of the world’s largest and most diverse providers of professional technical services. With 2012 revenues of nearly $11 billion, Jacobs offers full-spectrum support to industrial, commercial, and government clients across multiple markets. The San Antonio office offers engineering, architectural and construction management services addressing transportation, public works, residential, commercial and federal markets. Kevin is the Operations Manager for the San Antonio and Austin offices.

About the Program: Hear the Mayor’s Vision for San Antonio during a luncheon program featuring keynote address by Mayor Julián Castro and get “the Bexar facts” regarding County priorities directly from County Judge Nelson Wolff at the State of the County luncheon.

Personally Speaking: Kevin is third of a line of North Chamber board members from Jacobs – which has been supporting the North Chamber for more than 12 years. Kevin looks forward to chairing Government Affairs in 2014 and says, “We see the North Chamber providing business advocacy and thought leadership on key issues driving San Antonio’s growth.”

October 2013 Word from the Chairman

Rollins_Brad-ChairmanAs you know, the North SA Chamber has a long history as an advocate for business-friendly initiatives and legislation, as well as infrastructure improvements. We work to consistently champion a pro-business agenda and endeavor to serve as a collective voice to represent our large and small business members in government policy and legislative issues, especially at the local and state levels.

Our board of directors, government affairs and infrastructure committees monitor and suggest necessary changes and/or improvements on a number of issues including infrastructure. Regularly the North SA Chamber board of directors takes positions of endorsement or opposition of such issues.

At the September 24th North SA Chamber board of directors meeting, board members heard from Cris Eugster, Group EVP at CPS Energy, regarding the CPS Energy proposed rate increase to be voted on and approved by City Council, and from our Government Affairs Council Chair, Rob Killen of Kauffman Killen, regarding the Proposed Texas Constitutional Amendments Nos. 3 and 6, which are on the ballot for the November 5th election. The North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce board of directors reviewed, held discussion, voted and endorsed each proposition.

CPS Energy Rate Adjustment
In late September CPS Energy was proposing a 4.75 percent rate increase – the first since 2010, to keep up with an expanding customer base and to upgrade existing infrastructure. The North SA Chamber understands that even with a rate increase CPS Energy’s rates still will be among the lowest in Texas, and our board believes it’s critical for economic development and business retention to provide efficient reliable power to keep our economy strong. Following our board meeting, City Council and the public have expressed concern over the utility’s bonus program, and chief executive Doyle Beneby has since announced a reduction in the proposed rate increase to 4.25 percent as well as a 50 percent reduction in employee bonus plans for years 2015 and 2016, thus making the rate increase more satisfactory to its detractors. City Council will vote on the rate adjustment at the November 7 Council meeting, and if approved, the new rates will take effect February 1, 2014.

Constitutional Amendment Election – November 5, 2013
Additionally, the North SA Chamber encourages our members and the community to vote “Yes” for the proposed Constitutional Amendment, No. 3 on the ballot, “The constitutional amendment to authorize a political subdivision of this state to extend the number of days that aircraft parts that are exempt from ad valorem taxation due to their location in this state for a temporary period may be located in this state for purposes of qualifying for the tax exemption.” Texas is one of only 11 states to levy a property tax on inventory. Learn more at the Texas Association of Manufacturers’ website, or download the Proposition 3 Fact Sheet.

Furthermore, the North SA Chamber encourages our members and the community to vote “Yes” for the proposed Constitutional Amendment, No. 6 on the ballot, “The constitutional amendment providing for the creation of the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas to assist in the financing of priority projects in the state water plan to ensure the availability of adequate water resources.” Learn more at the H204Texas website, or download the Proposition 6 Fact Sheet.

Photo Identification
Remember, with the passing of Senate Bill 14, voters are now required to present an approved form of photo identification in order to vote in all Texas Elections. Visit VoteTexas.Gov for more information.

Photo ID Required for Texas Voters
Identificación con Foto se Requiere para Votantes Tejanos

On behalf of the North SA Chamber board of directors, we ask for your thoughtful consideration of these items and encourage you to exercise your civic rights by offering feedback to your City Council member and voting in the November 5th election. Thank you for all you do to keep San Antonio and Bexar County strong.

State of the County & Mayor’s Vision for San Antonio Chair: Rob Killen, Kaufman & Killen, Inc.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbout the Company: Kaufman Killen is a law firm specializing in land use, economic development and local governmental relations. Kaufman Killen represent clients in San Antonio, Austin and surrounding communities on issues such as zoning, vested rights, annexation, tax abatements and the creation of special districts.

About the Program: Hear the Mayor’s Vision for San Antonio during a luncheon program featuring keynote address by Mayor Julián Castro and get “the Bexar facts” regarding County priorities directly from County Judge Nelson Wolff at the State of the County luncheon.

Personally Speaking: Kaufman Killen has been a member of the North Chamber for many years. In 2011 and 2012, Rob served on the Executive Committee as chair of the Business Development Council, and now is serving as chair of the Government Affairs Council. Rob says he has been involved and will stay involved with the North Chamber, “because I believe it is the most effective advocate for the San Antonio area business community.”

May 2013 Word from the Chairman

Rollins_Brad-ChairmanOn behalf of the board of directors, thank you for your membership and involvement with the North SA Chamber. Since the beginning of the year we have welcomed more than 80 new members and refocused our energies on orienting new members and facilitating participation across the organization. In doing so, we have initiated a personalized welcome for all new members at monthly Networking Breakfasts, personal calls from Membership Committee members, an email series detailing visibility opportunities, and most recently, we have added a new staff member to help navigate new members into involvement that best matches individual focus areas. Christabel Cook is the North SA Chamber’s new Marketing & Membership Services Coordinator and she is available to help connect you to chamber resources.

Government Affairs
On May 1st, the North SA Chamber was honored to host U.S. Senator Ted Cruz for a Small Business Roundtable discussion at the chamber office. A dozen business owners had the opportunity to ask their Senator direct questions and express their concerns over topics including tax reform, government contracting availability for small businesses and health care reform – among many others. We thank Sen. Cruz for asking the North SA Chamber to host the discussion and we were pleased to provide our members the opportunity to have their voices heard before their elected official.

More recently, our Government Affairs committee gained insight on the issues of higher education funding, downtown development, health care and justice.

UTSA Director of External Affairs Albert Carrisalez reviewed the State’s changing role in higher education funding. He explained that up until the 1970s, public universities relied heavily on the legislature for funding. Today, State funds are only about 17% of UTSA’s budget. UTSA been a responsible steward and has been successful in raising private funds from the community for many of their capital building and research funding needs. The university is now seeking approximately $46M from the State to build a new science building to replace their existing 37 year-old obsolete building. The university asks for your support before the legislature to support SB 16 for revenue bonds.

We were also joined by Director of Center City Development Lori Houston. As a direct result of SA2020 vision planning, Houston’s department was created to facilitate redevelopment of our inner city and downtown core and her team is focused on creating more housing and retail opportunities. Here’s a quick synopsis of our downtown economic impact. Downtown is home to an $11B tourism industry – the city core’s anchor, 65K employees representing $2.4B in wages, and 3.4K households accommodating 18K downtown and surrounding area residents. Overall, this has a $6B economic impact on San Antonio. Additionally, Center City is working to mitigate the regulatory challenges to development in downtown, reviewing and amending the Universal Development Code annually and offering incentivized development. If your business is part of a new development or redevelopment project in downtown or the surrounding area, please seek out Center City Development to help facilitate meetings with city departments.

Finally County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson reviewed the County’s focus areas in transportation, healthcare, neighborhood revitalization, jail population reduction, resource recovery – recycling, and energy consumption reduction. Overall, approximately 62% of County revenue comes from property taxes and the County focuses 80% of their efforts on health and justice. Commissioner Adkisson explained that as property values have increased, the County has been diligent to maintain or lower tax rates. The County works with the State, Texas Workforce Commission and nearly 40 nonprofits to correct offenders re-entering society in an effort to reduce re-offenses and volume in Bexar County jail. On the heath front, Commissioner Adkisson says the University Health System is focused on clinical treatment versus emergency, reactive care. The UHS is moving to a leadership role in diabetes control to lessen the costly care that can result from lack of preventative treatment.

Upcoming Events
We’ve got a full slate of summer programs scheduled and there’s sure to be a topic to meet you interest area. Our first CSO SustainAbility Summit is Wednesday, May 22, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Hilton San Antonio – Airport. CSO Workshops, presented by the Mission Verde Alliance, precede the Summit from 8:30 to 11 a.m.

I hope you’ll join us to “Get the Bexar Facts” at the Eighth Annual State of the County Address with Judge Nelson Wolff on Friday, May 24, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Omni San Antonio Hotel at the Colonnade. Judge Wolff will present the County’s priorities and will likely announce a newsworthy initiative or two.

Additionally, the Small Business How 2 Series topic is How 2 Generate Social Media Content: Strategy, Photo, Video and Blog. The seminar is designed for small businesses just launching a social media strategy and will take place Thursday, June 6, from 8 to 11 a.m. at Hilton San Antonio – Airport.

Lastly, the Technology Council presents the Business Technology Series: Accounting Software & Your Business on Wednesday, June 12, from 7:15 to 9 a.m. at the Petroleum Club. Learn more about what considerations should be made before purchasing, upgrading or transitioning programs.

Be a part of it.
I hope you will join us at these and our other upcoming events, enroll on a committee and be a part of it all here at the North SA Chamber. Thank you for all you do to keep Bexar County strong and I hope to see you soon.

Government Affairs Council Update

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy Rob Killen, Kaufman Killen
Government Affairs Council Chair

The Government Affairs Council is an advocate for North Chamber member businesses, working with local and state elected officials on public policy and legislative issues that impact our economy and quality of life. The Government Affairs Council hosts monthly meetings with local officials, annual lunches with both the Bexar County Judge and San Antonio Mayor, coordinates legislative initiatives and presents North Chamber positions to elected officials. There are a variety of opportunities for members to participate and contribute.

Monthly Meetings
We meet at 8:00 a.m. at the North Chamber offices on the first Tuesday of most months to hear presentations on specific topics from local officials. In February the topic was growth and annexation with guests Councilman Ray Lopez and City Planning Director John Dugan. In March the topic was economic development incentives with guests, David Marquez, Bexar County Economic Development Executive Director, and Rene Dominguez, City Economic Development Director. On April 2, the topic will be transportation, with guests Councilman Reed Williams and Commissioner Kevin Wolff.
Join the Committee

SAWS Rate Increase
On January 22, 2013, the North Chamber Board of Directors adopted a position on the proposed SAWS rate increase based on an extensive review and recommendation by a Government Affairs sub-committee. The sub-committee, composed of a number of technical experts, met with SAWS leadership and analyzed the details of the proposed rate increase and infrastructure needs. The North Chamber Board position was in support of the current proposed rate increase, but only if there is sufficient oversight, transparency and a review of operational efficiencies.

On February 7, 2013 the City Council approved an 8.4% rate increase by a vote of 8 to 3, and incorporated language related to operational efficiencies:

The SAWS Board of Trustees is directed to consider conducting a review for operational efficiencies, preparing an organizational assessment, and developing a program to identify organizational efficiencies and cost saving measures …

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State of the County & Mayor’s Vision
Every year we invite both the County Judge and the San Antonio Mayor to address the North Chamber and give us an update on current and proposed initiatives. On May 24, 2013, County Judge Nelson Wolff will present his annual State of the County Address over lunch at the Omni Hotel. On August 20, 2013, Mayor Julian Castro will share his thoughts with us at the Mayor’s Vision for San Antonio lunch at Oak Hills Country Club. Register Online

If you would like more information on any of our programs, please contact Government Affairs Council Chair Rob Killen at rob@kk-lawfirm.com.

Mitsuko Ramos Rejoins the Kaufman Killen Team

PWe are pleased to announce that Mitsuko Ramos has rejoined our team in the position of Governmental Relations & Project Manager. Mitsuko’s extensive experience will complement our practice and add value for our clients.

mitsuko ramosMitsuko has spent over 13 years of her career in government relations and public administration, coordinating with local elected officials, government staff, and stakeholders on matters that require approval by cities, counties, and/or other governmental entities.

Prior to rejoining the firm, Mitsuko worked as Director of Government Relations for MRGRM. Mitsuko has provided assistance to clients with zoning, construction permitting, Certificates of Occupancy, vested rights, legislative research, city contracts, economic development incentives, community relations, and comparative studies.

Mitsuko earned a BA in Political Science (Magna Cum Laude) from UTSA and is a certified mediator in the State of Texas. Mitsuko previously worked as a Special Projects Coordinator for the City of Austin Law Department and City Attorney’s Office for the City of San Antonio.

Mitsuko E. Ramos
Governmental Relations & Project Manager
100 West HoustonStreet, Suite 1250
San Antonio, Texas 78205
(210) 227-2000
(210) 227-2001-facsimile
mitsuko@kk-lawfirm.com

Chairman’s Vision for 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABrad Rollins
Dahill, President
2013 North Chamber Chairman of the Board

An Ohio native, Brad Rollins relocated to San Antonio in 1999 and has embraced the community, serving professional and charitable organizations including the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, MS Society and many environmental and military causes. While encouraging community involvement throughout his organization, Brad is president of Dahill – one of Texas’ largest office technology providers, and in 2013, he will preside over the North Chamber and Lead SA board of directors serving nearly 1,400 member businesses across Bexar County. Guiding 500 employees in 16 offices in eight Texas cities and New Mexico, Brad fosters a creative environment that empowers employees to share ideas, identify solutions and lead. He says, “I am at home at the North Chamber where I feel that same sense of collaboration and the entrepreneurial spirit.”

A North Chamber member since 2001, Dahill recognized early on the value of the chamber environment and the opportunities it provides members to get involved and build relationships while working together for the good of the business community. “This chamber is much more personal,” says Brad, “We’re really a big chamber with a small town feel to it. When you take the time to be a part of it you can use chamber programs and benefits to build your business.”

In 2013, Brad will lead the North Chamber to concentrate on: encouraging members to do business with each other; emphasizing member benefits and social media; delivering leadership and professional development; and offering topical, timely and quality programs.

Buy Local. Buy North Chamber.
Passionate about bringing members together to do business with one another, Brad says his primary goal for 2013 is to promote a dynamic chamber of commerce. Brad envisions a localized economic recovery generated by and for North Chamber members. Plainly, says Brad, “Each of our member businesses needs to purchase to operate. If each of us commits to review our supplier lists, identify chamber members who meet those needs, and then buy and sell products and services with each other – that could have quite an impact on each of our businesses.”

Looking to capitalize on the North Chamber’s recent entrance into social media, Brad wants to enlist the social network to play a big role in a member-to-member commerce initiative. “Our members are increasingly interested in learning how to market their business with social media. In the New Year, the North Chamber will meet that need with informative instructional series and a ‘buy local, buy from North Chamber members’ initiative,” details Brad.

For a grassroots effort to work, Brad says North Chamber members have to get online, get engaged and use the tools the chamber has provided. “Make 2013 the year you commit to marketing your business through the North Chamber. Enlist your marketing folks to examine the online Marketing Toolkit, and find everything you need to access benefits like online directory search, social media engagement, offering member specials and promoting your business via North Chamber media.”

Leadership & Professional Development
Recognizing that many small to mid-size businesses don’t have access to internal professional development, Brad is dedicated to offering information, training and leadership development that provides professionals the skills they need to move to the next level. “Our business community wants a readied workforce and people who are prepared to lead. The North Chamber delivers a number of programs that do just that.”

Brad says Leadership Lab, the North Chamber’s nine-month leadership cultivation series, is the centerpiece of that effort. “I’ve observed people go through the program, and right away I could see a difference in how our employees perceive themselves. You can’t underestimate the value of feedback from people outside of your organization,” he adds.

Additionally, Brad is a proponent of the Small Business How 2, Sustainability and CFO Breakfast Series. “These programs not only offer small businesses specialized information, but also contribute to businesses’ operations and bottom line when instruction is applied,” he says.

Keeping Bexar County Strong
The North Chamber’s mission is to strengthen San Antonio through the delivery of advocacy, networking, recognition, leadership and professional development programs. “Overall, the North Chamber is committed to ensuring that we offer the most impactful programs,” says Brad. “So the North Chamber remains committed to monitoring government affairs and public policy issues that affect our members, connecting people to people, honoring our community’s leaders and bringing businesses the tools they need to advance,” he adds.

Finally, as a steward of the North Chamber, Brad has assembled a team of seasoned business leaders to guide the North Chamber in 2013. “As we embark on this New Year, I want to thank Larry Anthis and his board for the incredible, active and hands-on leadership in 2012, and I proudly assume the privilege of chairing this great organization,” says Brad. “I invite each of our members to embrace the concept of commerce among us, find an area of interest in the chamber and be a part of it. I want to thank each of our members for all of your support, attendance and volunteerism – and for all that you do to keep San Antonio and Bexar County strong.”

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.