Category Archives: Chamber News

McAllen Chamber to hold Business Seminar on the DOL’s New Overtime Exemption Regulations

Glass - Valorie

The Department of Labor’s new overtime exemption regulations will go into effect on December 1, 2016, giving employers less than six months to prepare. The DOL has raised the salary threshold for exemption eligibility to $47,476 per year.  What will this mean for your business?  The McAllen Chamber of Commerce will hold a seminar entitled, “Making Sense of the Department of Labor’s New Exemption Rules” on Friday, July 8 from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce.  Labor and employment attorney, Valorie C. Glass with the firm of Atlas Hall & Rodriguez, will conduct a fast-paced, one-hour refresher course on an employer’s obligations under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  She will also cover the details of the DOL’s final rule and how this impacts “white collar” exemptions and overtime, as well as practical considerations in managing reclassifications of employees from exempt to nonexempt status. Ms. Glass…

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Business You Should Know – Valley Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery

Dr. Gary Schwarz

   As a child, all Dr. Gary Schwarz wanted to do was become a farmer. “That’s what my dad was and I loved working the land. I was influenced at an early age because the woods where my dad and grandpa used to hunt were no longer there, only fields of agriculture. Where had it all gone? I wanted to be part of bringing it back,” Schwarz said. However, his mother put a stop to that. “You’re not going to put your family through that!” she stated emphatically. “Be a doctor!” said his father. And so, while in college, he tried watching various medical surgeries but found himself passing out cold at each one. Choosing Dentistry instead, he enrolled at Baylor Dental College. While there discovered Oral Surgery, an extremely competitive field. “I watched the surgeries, didn’t get sick and was fascinated by them. I walked out of there knowing…

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People You Should Know – Elizabeth Davis

Elizabeth Davis

Nuts and Cows & Mi Cocina by the Hour Looking at a building in Mexico for a business, she realized it would make a great restaurant. Elizabeth Davis has bravado. She didn’t cook and wasn’t quite sure how to open a business, but that didn’t stop her. She went to the local Coca-Cola plant, and through her passion in what she believed would be a terrific business, she convinced them to paint her building and give her equipment,  tables and chairs. Opening her restaurant led her to a ten year catering business that eventually fed up to 4,000 people a day in factories’ cafeterias. “I learned to hire multi-functional employees and focused on building a strong team, taking care of them and their lives,” Davis said. Coming to McAllen, Davis decided once again to tackle the business world, this time with pecans, and created Nuts and Cows. Davis won the…

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Business You Should Know – KUMORI


Sitting in his office, Francisco Paez began his tale as Kumori co-owner with two brothers, no relation, Fernando and Eduardo Paez. With 19 years of success behind him Paez said, “I had promised myself never to be in the restaurant business again. I had a terrible experience and said, ‘Never Again.’ I was living in Monterrey, Mexico, and saw how U.S. citizens liked sushi. I thought, ‘Let’s bring it to them.’” Proposing the idea to his childhood friend, Fernando’s response was enthusiastic. “Let’s do it!” It took them about a year to get their first Kumori opened in McAllen. “Everything was a challenge because of a different culture, different country, different way of working with employees. But, we’ve always been blessed and people have been very loyal. That is what has made us succeed,” Paez explained. Several other factors have also contributed to their success. “We adapted to our markets.…

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Dr. Carlos Ayala “Simplifying the Beauty in All of Us”

Dr. Carlos Ayala Newsletter

Double-board Certified in Otolaryngology and Facial Plastic Surgery, and the only board certified facial plastic surgeon in the Rio Grande Valley, a clinical associate professor of surgery at the UTRGV School of Medicine, a retired military man, Dr. Carlos Ayala is a multi-faceted physician. I knew I wanted to be a doctor since I was a kid,” he said. “I went to my mom’s doctor’s appointments with her to translate and learned all the complicated lingo. Though I was born and raised in the Bronx, New York, and learned English in school, I lived in a home where no one spoke English. I decided I wanted to be a doctor because I wanted to help people like my mom. I saw the doctor helping her and thought it was great.” Entering the Navy after graduating from high school, he worked his way up through the ranks until he obtained a scholarship…

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12 Questions with McAllen Chamber Board Member Laura Warren


1) What is your favorite book?  I like Around the World in 80 Days and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Vernes – he’s one of my favorite authors.  But my very favorite book is The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. I love to read. 2) What is your favorite movie? The ones based on Jane Austin books. I liked “Pride and Prejudice.” 3) What was your favorite vacation spot? I’m enjoying the High Adventure Camps with the Boys Scouts of America. I get beat-up on the outside, but I’m renewed inside. I recently drove part of Troop 7 down to the Florida Keys and did a two-week stint on a 75- foot sailboat. We did a couple of environmental preservation projects on a turtle sanctuary island. We went through a couple of storms and it was the coolest thing, and I learned I didn’t get seasick! 4) What is…

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People You Should Know – Pattie Rosenlund, MS Executive Director, Easter Seals

patti easter seals

Providing Help, Hope and Answers The Easter Seals Foundation was founded in 1919 by Edgar Allen when his  son was injured in a street car accident and, suddenly, disability touched his life. Easter Seals Rio Grande Valley began in 1952, starting out in an Army barracks in Pharr before moving to 1217 West Houston Avenue in McAllen. Executive Director Pattie Rosenlund, with the organization for 18 years, heads up the 160 employees. “My background is in teaching special education, and then I moved to teaching in the mental health world,” said Pattie. “I love the opportunities we have of program development, working with families to provide the support they need to make a positive impact.” Easter Seals offers multiple programs such as Early Childhood Intervention, which provides services from therapy for infants and toddlers with disabilities or developmental delays, helping adult clients fund their ongoing therapy to teaching parents how…

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San Antonio FOX Television Crew Films in McAllen

San Antonio’s “Daytime at 9” cast and crew visited McAllen to film portions of local episodes that will air in June.

A San Antonio television crew visited McAllen recently to film a portion of episodes that will feature the Rio Grande Valley. “Daytime at 9,” a program run on San Antonio’s Fox Channel KABB, will air two live programs from the Rio Grande Valley at the end of June, said Nancy Millar, Vice President and Director of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce’s Convention and Visitors’ Bureau. “The program has now begun to air in the Valley as well, on KGBT Channel 4,” Millar explained. “’Daytime at 9’ will therefore be covering the Valley more frequently. These episodes just filmed will be the first of what is anticipated to be several more over the course of the run of the program.” The production crew visited for several days, filming interviews with McAllen chefs and some shopping scenes, Millar said. Featured locations will include Quinta Mazatlan and Town Lake at Fireman’s Park. “The…

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McAllen Lanza Programa en Apoyo a Visitantes y Compradores Mexicanos


La nueva iniciativa ‘Tu Peso Vale Más’ les ofrecerá un tipo de cambio preferencial. Debido a la reciente devaluación que ha sufrido el peso, el turismo y las compras en la ciudad de McAllen por parte de Mexicanos ha disminuido considerablemente. En apoyo a esta situación, la Cámara de Comercio de esta ciudad ha lanzado una nueva iniciativa llamada: “Tu peso vale más,” que permitirá a los Mexicanos realizar sus compras en pesos y beneficiarse con un tipo de cambio preferencial. Steve Ahlenius, presidente de la Cámara de Comercio de McAllen, explicó las diferentes modalidades del programa: “Algunos de los negocios locales y minoristas tomarán como base el tipo de cambio oficial publicado en la página web de la asociación (, para luego ofrecer a sus clientes un ahorro de un peso por dólar en sus compras, pagando en pesos mexicanos. Mientras que aquellas tiendas que por política no puedan…

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McAllen and LiftFund partner for no-interest small business loans


  The City of McAllen and LiftFund, the nation’s largest nonprofit small business lender, are offering small business owners in McAllen loans up to $250,000 at a zero percent interest rate for the third consecutive year. Loans can be used to expand a business or to startup a new business. A former manager of a cell phone retail location, Anamia Ortiz opened her own location two years ago. “As a first time business owner, no one would give us a chance until we found LiftFund,” said Anamia. “LiftFund has been there for us when we most had a need for capital and through the City of McAllen buy down program we received our loans at a 0% interest.”   Today she is the owner of five Jackson Wireless, LLC, locations throughout the Rio Grande Valley. Anamia received two loans from LiftFund through this program. The first loan helped startup the…

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Man & Woman of the Year 2015


City Commissioner Richard Cortez and Sister Norma Pimentel A politician and a humanitarian; what a wise and wonderful blend to make up the Chamber’s 2015 Man and Woman of the Year. First, the Humanitarian. Who comes to mind when one thinks of that person who was the leader in bringing dignity back to those who believed they were lost souls? Sister Norma Pimentel, director of Catholic Charities, has become the shining star to those women and children feeling so alone in a foreign country. “Those first weeks and months, the surge of people came in 2014 and throughout 2015, we saw women and children walk up to the door in the worst conditions. It broke my heart,” she said, emotionally. “Actually, when my mentor, Sister Juliana Garcia, saw the surge begin, she said it was deja vu. ‘We did this in the 80s,’ she said.” Growing up, Sister Norma believed…

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  1) What is your favorite book? Aside from the dozens of cookbooks I have, I would say The Celestine Prophecy. I read that book about 20 years ago and it helped me change my perspective on things. I’ll never forget that book. 2) What is your favorite movie? That’s going to be tough because there are several movies that, if they are on, I have to watch them. The Rocky Series tops them all; the story of the struggle that he has to overcome in every movie. Also, Breakfast Club is one of my favorites. Tarantino is a beast. Reservoir Dogs is another one of my favorites. 3) What was your favorite vacation spot? I don’t think I’ve vacationed enough. For many years it was Fredericksburg. It was close to where we lived and was a great escape. Now, when we travel, we don’t like to go to the…

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PEOPLE YOU SHOULD KNOW – Greg Turley, Attorney at Law


Local attorney, Greg Turley, is on an adventure of a lifetime. He’s published his first book,  Hideaway, and entered an exclusive club. Though there are millions of books out there, it’s still a privilege to become part of the “Authors” club. “In the last 10 years I’ve become more interested in writing,” he said. “I have a personal blog,, and a movie review site,,” said Turley. For the last two years, between life and the career he loves as an attorney in Business Law, Estate Planning, real estate and construction matters, he has brought to life his dream of writing a book. “I had an idea for an interrogation and started with that in mind. One of the things I didn’t realize was when I came to a fork in the road with the story, I was the one who had total control over whether to go right…

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Latest BBQ team to join Sizzling in the Tropics BBQ Competition

me rub you long time team

H-E-B and the McAllen Chamber of Commerce invite everyone to the “Sizzling in the Tropics” BBQ Competition on Saturday, April 2 from 12 noon to 5:00 p.m. at the McAllen Chamber, 1200 Ash Ave. One of the latest teams to join in the fun is the “You Rub Me Long Time” Cooking Team headed up by Alma Vera.  Her team is ready for competition and they would like everyone to come out and sample the meat they prepare for the judges.  The cooking teams will be judged on the best Chicken, Pulled Pork, Pork Ribs, Beef Brisket, Pan de Campo, and Beans.  There will also be awards for best showmanship and The public will judge the People’s Choice Award so come out and support your favorite team! Tickets to attend the event are $15.00 per person, which includes all-you-can-eat tasting from all 35 teams, drinks, a beverage garden, live entertainment…

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