Category Archives: Chamber News

McAllen announces largest holiday illuminated parade in Texas

McAllen’s biggest, brightest and most anticipated event of the holiday season will be held on Saturday, Dec. 6. City of McAllen leaders and parade sponsors hosted a press conference today at La Plaza Mall and unveiled details regarding the newly revamped McAllen Holiday Parade. This year the City has plans to grow it on an even bigger scale to match the City’s tremendous growth. La Plaza Mall will serve as a presenting sponsor for the parade. The City will partner with major event and parade production companies to produce the largest illuminated holiday parade in Texas. It will feature a large array of giant helium-filled balloons similar to those seen in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It will also showcase decorated, colorful and illuminated parade floats including some from Blaine Kern Studios in New Orleans, the company that creates the magic of Mardi Gras. The floats that will be featured…

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McAllen Education Foundation honors grant recipients

McAllen Education Foundation honors grant recipients: Pictured are McAllen ISD teachers who received a grant from the McAllen Education Foundation Sept. 1. The grants include violin classes for elementary students, an outdoor science lab for high school students, solar-powered car kits and supplies to create a garden. The Foundation provided $24,250 to fund 12 grants which will benefit more than 3,000 students during the 2014-15 school year. Standing with the grant winners are MEF Executive Director Maricruz Abbott (far left) and McAllen ISD Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services Rachel Arcaute (far right).

Ylianna Guerra of McAllen wins Miss Texas USA

Miss Ylianna Guerra from McAllen, Texas proudly represented the Rio Grande Valley and earned the title of Miss Texas USA 2015! This year’s pageant competition saw Miss Guerra as Miss Tropics of Texas USA, along with 113 young ladies from across the Lone Star State, competing for the crown on August 31 in Houston, Texas. In the pageant preliminaries she also earned the title of Miss Photogenic and was a Top 5 finalist in the Swimsuit division. Ylianna’s journey to Miss Texas USA began with her first pageant win where she was crowned Miss Rio Grande Valley 2011, she then went on to become Miss South Texas in 2013. Ylianna is currently a senior at The University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas, majoring in Communications, where she is on the Dean’s List and a member of the National Society of Leadership & Success. Ylianna is the daughter…

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Kirk Clark to be honored at Collage: Legacy of Generosity

This year, the International Museum of Art & Science will be honoring Kirk Clark at the annual COLLAGE: LEGACY OF GENEROSITY. Kirk will be honored for contributing and enriching the community of the Rio Grande Valley, along with his lifetime of service to the International Museum of Art & Science. Saturday, September 27, 2014 6:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. Tickets can be purchased at the IMAS front desk or by calling 682-0123.

Chef Larry Delgado to represent Texas at Great American Seafood Cook-off

Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne and the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board are hosting the 11th annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 2, in New Orleans. Eighteen chefs from throughout the U.S. will compete for the highly coveted crown honoring the best seafood chef in the nation. The event will be held at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and is open to the public. Tickets are $5 in advance at the Broad Street, Arabella Station, Veterans Memorial (Metairie) and Towne Center (Baton Rouge) Whole Foods locations, or $10 at the door. Many states hold their own cook-offs in spring and early summer to qualify chefs to compete in New Orleans. Participating chefs in this year’s event will represent Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Virginia. “I'm thrilled to…

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DHR named Top 82 Physician-Owned Hospitals to Know

Doctors Hospital at Renaissance (DHR) is pleased to announce it was named among Becker’s Hospital Review’s Top “82 Physician Owned Hospitals to Know.” The report, which was issued last month, highlights some of the highest performing hospitals that are partly or fully owned by physicians. In the United States, there are approximately 240 physician-owned hospitals. The 82 hospitals on Becker’s Hospital Review’s list have earned recognition from various reputable sources, including Truven Health Analytics, Healthgrades, The Joint Commission, Press Ganey and CareChex. They have also earned high scores from CMS' Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey. The Becker's Hospital Review editorial team chose hospitals for inclusion based on these accolades. As evidence of the success that led Doctors Hospital at Renaissance to be named among the Top “82 Physician-Owned Hospitals to Know,” DHR was ranked among U.S. News and World Reports “Best Hospitals” for 2013-2014, receiving high…

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McAllen Chamber gets 5-Star Accreditation from the U.S. Chamber

McALLEN—The McAllen Chamber of Commerce recently achieved a distinction shared with few other chambers across the country. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce gave its “5-Star Accreditation” to the McAllen Chamber, recognizing the local organization’s procedures, organization and community imprint, according to an April 4 news release. “This effort took over a year to complete and I am very proud of every person who made a significant contribution,” Steve Ahlenius, president and CEO of the McAllen Chamber, said in the release. “The McAllen Chamber is one of only seven chambers in the state of Texas to accomplish the five-star status – and we are very proud to be among the few.” Ahlenius said via email that the McAllen Chamber is among 81 across the country that have received the five-star distinction. “Accreditation validates a chamber as having programs that benefit their local economy and for positively influencing action in their community,”…

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Engaging McAllen

There’s much to be said for a community that keeps abreast of national and state issues and strives to bring new ideas, businesses, perpsectives and business models to the area. And that’s exactly what McAllen has been demonstrating via the overwhelming public support of the Newsmakers Breakfast Series, a partnership between the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and The Monitor, and sponsored by IBC Bank. We are pleased to announce that the series will feature U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, who will be interviewed for an hour by Monitor Editor Carlos Sanchez on Thursday at the McAllen Chamber building at 1200 Ash Ave. This is the fourth such event held at the McAllen Chamber since the Newsmaker series kicked off in October with Washington Post syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr. Other speakers have included former U.S. ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza. The events are unscripted and allow Sanchez to interview…

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Jim Laffoon steps into the role of president and chief executive officer at Security Service Federal Credit Union

 Jim Laffoon has been named president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Security Service Federal Credit Union (SSFCU) by the credit union’s Board of Directors. Since 2012, Laffoon has served as the credit union’s president. As president and CEO, Laffoon is responsible for day-to-day operations of the enterprise and strategic direction for SSFCU’s nearly 2,000 employees in Texas, Colorado and Utah. SSFCU’s former CEO, David E. Reynolds, retired in March.   Laffoon began his career with SSFCU in 1989 and steadily advanced into roles of increasing responsibility, serving as the credit union’s primary strategist, corporate planner, technologist and operations manager. He was named executive vice president and chief operating officer in 2002.  Laffoon earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in finance from The University of Texas. Before joining SSFCU, he served as a senior consultant with Arthur Anderson and Co.  About Security Service Federal Credit Union Security…

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STC and McAllen Chamber Creative Incubator Partner to Offer Fall Classes

South Texas College's (STC) Continuing Professional and Workforce Education Department (CPWE), in partnership with the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, will present a variety of art, dance, and music classes starting this April 2014 at the McAllen Creative Incubator. All classes are led by skilled teachers approved by STC Human Resources and are designed to encourage students to unleash their imagination. Formal lessons are scheduled to be offered in a variety of media. Popular classes include oil painting, acting, scrapbooking, cake and floral decoration and even salsa and tango dance instruction. “The McAllen Chamber of Commerce and STC are making an important contribution to cultural activities in McAllen,” said McAllen Chamber of Commerce Director of Arts Development Ivan F. Gonzalez. “We hope that this new project at the McAllen Creative Incubator will provide a valuable legacy to our community.” For a complete schedule of classes and registration, visit STC’s Continuing Professional…

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McAllen Hotel Occupancy Trending Up

            McAllen's hotel occupancy is trending up and leading the county, according to statistics released recently by the Texas Hotel Performance Handbook.             2013 annual figures show McAllen’s revenues jumped 4.8% over 2012, to $61,220,183. Occupancy also gained, from 58.6% to 59.6%, and Average Daily Rate (ADR) improved 2.7% to $87.43.             Occupancy for Hidalgo County as a whole increased .6%, while ADR and revenues kept pace with McAllen.             McAllen ended strong, with fourth quarter numbers showing increases in all three categories- 8% growth in revenues, 3.3% in ADR, and 2% in occupancy.             McAllen fared better than many cities and areas around the state, including Cameron County, Beaumont/Port Arthur, Laredo, Odessa and Wichita Falls.             “This is certainly positive news,” said Nancy Millar, Vice President and Director of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce’s Convention and Visitors’ Bureau. “We are seeing a real turn-around…

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Diana Montemayor Art Exhibit at McAllen Creative Incubator

Internationally recognized artist Diana Montemayor announced today that her work “Taller de Pintura” was chosen for an art exhibition at the McAllen Creative Incubator.  Diana Montemayor is an international artist who is known for her dynamic and colorful oil paintings.  The McAllen Creative Incubator has selected Montemayor’s work for a show for the entire month of February 2014. Diana Montemayor lives and works in Monterrey, N.L. Mexico and been creating her art there and abroad for more than 25 years. “Due to the popularity of Montemayor’s paintings in several countries, we have decided to continue the exhibit for several weeks.” said Ivan Gonzalez, Director of Arts Development for the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. Her artwork is represented in the collections of museums and galleries worldwide, including the Museo del Obispado in  Monterrey, Nuevo León,Galerie Mary-Ann in Mácon, France, Casa de la Cultura de Cruces in Barakaldo, Spain and Torrebillela Kultur Etxea in Mungia, Spain.  Ms.Montemayor currently holds art…

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McAllen High School Mariachis qualify for state finals

The McAllen High School Mariachi Oro has qualified to proceed to the MASBA/UIL State Mariachi Finals February 7-8, in San Antonio. They earned Superior Division I Ratings from all five adjudicators after performing in the South Area Competition January 24-25 at the Edinburg North High Performing Arts Center. “I'm extremely proud of these kids for all the hours of rehearsing, hard work, and dedication that they have put into reaching this goal,” McAllen High Mariachi instructor Alex Trevino said. Only five Class 5A schools from the South Area advanced to state. The members of the McAllen High Mariachis include Katherine Perez, Lindsey Garza, Alan Maciel, Neri Fuentes, Christopher Echevarria, Saul Ruiz, Mia Trevino, Perla Alonzo, Kyline Stephens, Eddy Villarreal, Rogelio Vazquez, Jennifer Lind, Brando Lujan, Joel González, Ricky Jankowski, Jordan Morris and Arturo Villarreal.  Mr. Trevino expressed thanks for the support of Jose Villarreal, McAllen High Mariachi Booster President and…

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McAllen Chamber releases "Livability : McAllen, TX 2014" Magazine

McAllen, TX –– The McAllen Chamber of Commerce recently unveiled Livability: McAllen, TX 2014, a print and digital program that promotes the area to newcomers, visitors and relocating businesses. Content highlights McAllen’s quality of life, business climate, attractions, restaurants and must-do activities. Articles focus on how the McAllen Creative Incubator's inspiring new space contributes to the area’s growing arts community; the diverse local cuisine scene; as well as the global education students are gaining through McAllen Independent School District’s expanding International Baccalaureate programs. Other articles highlight the quality of place amenities that attract people to the McAllen area, including top-quality medical centers, cutting-edge schools and healthy business economy. The area's business climate is strengthened by small businesses such as The Man Shop and Edible Arrangements as well as larger employers in manufacturing and wholesale. Find more great content about McAllen on, a national website with information about more than…

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The McAllen Youth Entrepreneur Factory a New Program to Nurture and Promote entrepreneurship in McAllen’s Youth

In an effort to promote entrepreneurship among today’s youth, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and the McAllen Independent School District (MISD) are offering students enrolled in a MISD school the opportunity to participate in “The McAllen Youth Entrepreneur Factory” program.  The program will nurture entrepreneurship and an experience that will inspire future businesses. The process will help students gain a better understanding of how to develop a business idea and find its path to market. The program and competition is intended to simulate the real-world process of entrepreneurs soliciting start-up funds from early-stage investors and venture capital firms. This program is divided into the following phases: First, interested participants should attend an orientation to learn about the process and activities required to complete the program. The second phase is the Idea Lab. The Idea Lab program is an eight session program that proposes several tools to help participants define their…

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