Category Archives: Chamber News

Inter National Bank First Certified McAllen Chamber "Green Business"

The McAllen Chamber of Commerce has announced that Inter National Bank has been the first to qualify as a certified “McAllen Green Business.” Inter National Bank Executive Vice President Karen Valdez was enthusiastic about her bank’s participation in the new program. “INB has been environmentally conscientious for a long time, and we are continually looking for more ways to recycle and to save natural resources ourselves and for our customers,” she said. “This program allows us to promote the fact that we are being responsible corporate citizens, and it hopefully will encourage other McAllen businesses to participate in it as well.” Inter National Bank’s designation kicks off a new program from the Chamber of Commerce, the follow-up to its 4-year-old Green Hotel Certification Program. “18 hotels are participating in the Green Hotel Certification Program,” said Nancy Millar, Vice President and Director of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce’s Convention and Visitors’…

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International Food Festival a Great Success!

The McAllen Chamber of Commerce recently sponsored the 11th annual International Food Festival at the McAllen Convention Center.  With an attendance of over 2500, the event featured over 35 McAllen area restaurants highlighting main course menu items such as Southern Style Ribs, Mexican Food, Italian, Indian, Mediterranean and Japanese.  Restaurants competed for awards in their respective categories in a blind tasting performed by recognized chefs from the area. The winner for Best Franchise Restaurant Taste  was Bar-B-Cutie and second place went to El Pollo Loco.  In the Independent Restaurant category, Kumori won first place in Best Taste and second place went to Poncho’s Mexico Nuevo Restaurant. Regarding the Best Display awards based on the Carnival theme this year, first place in the franchise category went to El Pollo Loco and second place to Jason’s Deli. On the Best Display independent category, first place went to Paris House Cakes and second place was awarded to Taste of India.   In…

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Why McAllen ISD’s iPad Push is Just the Start

By Steve Ahlenius, McAllen Chamber of Commerce President/CEO The last several weeks I have written about business models and the changing economy, and the challenges businesses have in competing in a constant state of change. Education is experiencing the same challenges. Things are changing and education is changing, whether we like it or not. The McAllen School District push in technology (iPads) is bold and important. The pace of change is being driven by technology. Ask yourself–are you using the same cell phone you were using five years ago? Why are we teaching kids with an education system that was created in the 19th Century? Online education is taking off; cars are becoming rolling “clouds” and media hubs. Smart phones and social media have created revolutions and forced changes in government. Companies like Groupon and Red Spot take off in just months and create huge market valuation. Technology, innovation in…

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McAllen Welcomes Winter Texans

                 McAllen is set once again to welcome the thousands of Winter Texans back to the Valley. “We always look forward to the time of year when our Winter Texans return,” said Nancy Millar, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce’s Vice President and Director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.       The Rio Grande Valley has 500 RV parks, where about half of the Winter Texans stay for up to 6 months.  The remainder, Millar said, rent apartments, have second homes or stay in extended-stay hotels.      “Most of our Winter Texans come from the Midwest, all across Canada, and Northern Texas,” Millar said.       South Texas usually benefits to the tune of $802 million per year from winter visitors.       “Retirees who are ‘sampling’ the McAllen area for the first time will be pleasantly surprised by McAllen’s cost of living,” Millar said.  “They will be able to stay here…

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McAllen Chamber’s Convention & Visitors’ Bureau Shares People’s Choice & Judges’ Choice Awards With Waco and Amarillo

                Three Texas convention and visitor bureaus, McAllen, Amarillo and Waco, pooled expertise and resources to create the Texas Top to Bottom journalist hosting project in 2011. This new approach to promote tourism received two awards at this past year’s Texas Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus (TACVB) annual meeting in San Marcos.                                 The project was voted First Place in the annual TACVB Idea Fair in the Cooperative Marketing category. TACVB members voted on this People’s Choice Award.                                 Texas Top to Bottom was also judged the best Cooperative Marketing entry by a panel of communication experts from the San Marcos area, winning a Judges’ Choice Award as well.                                  The three bureaus, represented by Nancy Millar (McAllen), Eric Miller (Amarillo) and Lori Kasparian (Waco) developed this project to attract journalists to see the entire state through these three cities.                                  As far as the…

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McAllen Hotel Occupancy Up Slightly

            McAllen occupancy and revenue numbers were up slightly for 2011 through third quarter, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce announced recently.             “We are cautiously optimistic,” said Nancy Millar, Vice President of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce’s Convention and Visitors’ Bureau. “While the third quarter itself was soft, year to date McAllen is actually ahead of where it was this time last year.”             Figures show a 2.3% increase in total room revenues and a 1.1% increase in occupancy numbers. “These are obviously modest increases,” Millar said, “but especially in today’s economy any movement to the positive is a good thing.”             Hotels with the largest increases include Homewood Suites, Springhill Suites and Residence Inn, all posting significant revenue increases. Homewood Suites’ room revenue grew by 23.1%and its occupancy by 15.5%; Springhill Suites saw increases of 27.9% in revenue and 16.5% in occupancy; and Residence Inn saw a 19.8% rise…

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Fighting the World’s Misperceptions About McAllen

            While there are myriad positive, upbeat things happening locally, it sometimes feels as if McAllen and the Rio Grande Valley are under siege by the national media.             Combatting the misperception that McAllen is a dangerous city is part of the job of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce's Convention and Visitors' Bureau, which is charged with marketing the City. So what exactly is being done?             Naturally, most of what a Convention and Visitors' Bureau does is not seen here in town, since our job is to motivate people outside of the area to visit. Advertising (except to encourage shoppers from Monterrey) is not something within our budget so we concentrate on working with journalists, usually travel writers. If we can persuade writers to cover the positive aspects of McAllen, then potentially millions of readers will be exposed not only to McAllen's attributes, but also will receive the tacit…

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Venture/Business Readiness Assessment, another Great Tool for Entrepreneurs

Venture/Business Readiness Assessment, another Great Tool for Entrepreneurs The McAllen Chamber of Commerce is pleased to offer the Venture/Business Readiness Assessment tool to entrepreneurs and potential businesses in McAllen. The tool guides the entrepreneur in navigating their way through the process of going from concept to market/business. The assessment consists of the following tools:          The Entrepreneurial Readiness Survey assesses the aptitude of the participant for the world of entrepreneurship, a path that requires special skills and personal characteristics. Key questions: –        What are your entrepreneurial strength and weaknesses? –        Do you demonstrate the entrepreneurial characteristics investors require? ·         The Risk Readiness Assessment analyzes the amount of risk removed from the business venture through the choices made in the business model, management structure, and market strategy. Key questions: –        Which areas of your business model demonstrate the most risk? –        Does your business model meet investors’ tolerance for risk? ·        …

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Daryl "The Moose" Johnston speaks at Chamber’s Annual "Man & Woman of the Year" Awards Banquet

“Don’t practice until you get it right,” said Daryl “The Moose” Johnston to the crowd at the 57th annual McAllen Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet on Tuesday night. “Practice until you can’t get it wrong.”  Johnston, who has three Super Bowl rings, was the guest speaker at the event which filled the banquet hall at the McAllen Convention Center.  He was welcomed to the stage by the crowd chanting, “Moose” over and over again. Johnston captured the crowd with stories about playing for the Dallas Cowboys and his endearing friendship with Emmitt Smith, the National Football League's all time leading rusher.  Johnston's leading message of the evening was about how to win and succeed; his stories quietly comparing the game of football to daily business life.   He explained that no one can really play football well if they don't love the game.  He also explained that you have to be…

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TRUE STORIES OF SUCCESS: The McAllen Innovation Grant Awards

In 2010 Fernando Ramirez and Jorge Garcia embarked on a great journey, the journey of innovation. The journey began when Jorge, an inventor, recognized the need for a new product to help parents with the cleaning and sanitizing of baby products. That vision was enough for Jorge to start sketching solutions to the problem. Fernando, an entrepreneur, learned about the idea and recognized the potential to develop a new product that could solve some unmet needs. At that point, the inventor and the entrepreneur decided to formalize the partnership in a new venture: G Innovations. The next step was to move their idea off the ground. The team began attending the I&E (Inventors & Entrepreneurs) Network at the McAllen Chamber. At every meeting, they learned essential steps in the process of innovation.  The first topic they began to work on was intellectual property. Confidentiality agreements and provisional patents became part…

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TRUE STORIES OF SUCCESS: The LatinaHope Program

Emma decided to take action and make her dream a reality, becoming a micro-entrepreneur. She had plenty of experience in sewing from past employment and family responsibilities but was lacking funding and business knowledge. To overcome that obstacle, in 2010 she decided to participate in LatinaHope to learn about business and obtain micro-funding. Her enthusiasm, participation and motivation while in the program made the idea a reality: Emma’s Alterations. For Sara, LatinaHope was an opportunity to expand her commercialization strategy and personal-growth. Sara designs and handmakes necklaces, rings, and earrings from her home. During the training, she identified and recognized that her jewelry could be sold by sales representatives for a commission using her personal network. Her next step was to start branding her products and create a commission scale. To grow faster, she applied for a micro-grant offered by LatinaHope to acquire additional inventory to offer to current customers…

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ACCE presents McAllen Chamber of Commerce National Award for Communications Excellence

Alexandria, Virginia – August 9, 2011 – The McAllen Chamber of Commerce is a recipient of the American Chamber of Commerce Executives' (ACCE) Award for Communications Excellence (ACE).  The Chamber’s newsletter “McNews” received a Bronze Award.    The ACE Bronze Award meets and exceeds the fundamental standards and criteria for communications excellence.   Winners were recognized at the annual ACCE convention on Thursday evening, August 4, in Los Angeles, Ca.   “There is truly exceptional communications work being done in the chamber profession, and ACCE is proud to recognize these achievements,” said ACCE President Mick Fleming.   This year's ACE competition drew 83 entries from chambers throughout the U.S.   The Awards for Communication Excellence (ACE) is an annual competition that recognizes excellence in all areas of communications. Celebrating its 28th year, ACE continues to be the vehicle for the chamber community to promote effective chamber communications, as well as…

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McAllen Chamber Announces 2011 McAllen Innovation Grant Awards Winners

The 2011 McAllen Innovation Grant Awards is a competition to recognize with funding, great ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. The program pursues two objectives. First, to generate entrepreneurial opportunities with funding to move ideas off the ground. The second is to expose entrepreneurs to the experience of requesting capital from potential investors. During the application process, participants need to solidify the objective (what), strategies (how), and tactics (when, where, who) of their project. The awards are grants, not loans, and do not have to be repaid. The applicants are required to state the amount of money they are requesting (up to $10,000) and how they anticipate to use the funding if awarded. The most common funding categories are the following: New product evaluation Assessment of commercial potential Primary or secondary research Product development Performance proofing or testing Test marketing Patent research Intellectual property rights procurement Concept development   In June, a…

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Heart of the Valley Health Fair 2011

The McAllen Chamber of Commerce Health Fair Committee invites everyone to participate in the 28th Annual “Heart of the Valley” Health, Fitness and Wellness Fair on Sunday, November 20, 2011 from 8 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., at the McAllen Convention Center.   The Chamber sponsors this event to promote health awareness and education to the community and to give medical & wellness businesses the opportunity to give back to the community.  Also, through the fair we are able to educate the community about the latest treatments, procedures, services and technology available in the Rio Grande Valley.    Exhibitors at the health fair will offer free health screenings in cholesterol, diabetes, blood pressure, vision/glaucoma, dental, chiropractic, bone density, live fitness routines among others.  Over 6,000 Rio Grande Valley residents and Winter Texans take advantage of all the services offered at the health fair.   The health fair also features a children’s section…

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