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.