Author Archives: Stephanie Hawk

Global Competitiveness Report 2018

The World Economic Forum recently released its Global Competitiveness Report 2018.  The report shows that the United States has returned to the #1 position in overall competitiveness. Singapore was #2, Germany was #3, Japan was #6, China was #28 and Russia was #43. There are twelve key benchmarks that measure a country’s competitiveness and they include the following: Intuitions. Includes the rule of law and ensuring fair and equal treatment. The U.S. was ranked #13. Infrastructure. The benchmark includes everything from broadband to airports to highways. With some of the oldest legacy infrastructure in the world, the U.S. needs to invest much more to move up from #9. Internet, Communications and Technology. America’s diversity and individualism hurt, as too many people opt-out of state-of-the-art technology. The U.S. was ranked #27. Macroeconomic Stability. This benchmark refers to safety provided by monetary and fiscal policies. The United States is ranked #34. This…

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The Power of Focus

When I was a kid, I loved nothing more than to a get a magnifying glass and burn stuff. I think my parents were concerned I was a budding arsonist. I loved taking my $4.99 magnifying glass outside and burning paper, plastic soldiers, and leaves. I even stuck my finger under the magnifying glass. Trust me – it hurts and you don’t need to try it. The magnifying glass is a great example of bringing focus. If you can remember back to your childhood, it took a little skill (angles and light) and time to get the glass focused on the right spot. Our ability to get things done is like the magnifying glass – it takes a little skill. When I need to get things done, I have found improving my focus improves the outcome. When my focus is diluted, I get diluted results. There are three kinds of…

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Thanksgiving Together

Thanksgiving in our house is the best and most favored holiday. I am not slamming Christmas. Who doesn’t like getting gifts, all the festive decorations, parties, and the general goodwill that seems to prevail even if just for a momentary period? However, in our house, Thanksgiving wins. There is something about giving thanks that is reflective.  It causes us to slow down, and pause, and think about all the blessings we have in our lives. This Thanksgiving we need to stop and reflect more than ever. There seems to be a growing uneasiness and sense of being overwhelmed by things happening all around us. Thanksgiving is a time, not to pull away and retreat into our own little world of food, football, and turkey, but to come together. Together is a powerful word. It means we are not alone. We are not separate. It is an acknowledgment of the authentic,…

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Holiday Shopping in McAllen

LET’S GET SHOPPING,MCALLEN! The holiday season is just around the corner, which means you probably have plenty of shopping to get done. But no need to stress, the McAllen metro area has everything you need, from exquisite jewelry stores to one-of-a-kind boutiques and everything in between. Your team at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce have put together a quick list of some of the best shops in town. Whatever you are looking for, you’re sure to find that special gift for everyone on your list! A Block Away Quilt Shop 2706 N. 10th Street McAllen, TX 78501 956-638-1961 People love creating their very own crafts and quilts, and A Block Away Quilt Shop is the perfect store for the quilt maker in your life. Offering fabrics, quilt kits, patterns and books, batting, fusibles, and even quilt making classes, this is the one stop shop for that craft maker you know.…

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Youth Apprenticeship McAllen

This past Wednesday, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, South Texas College, and McAllen ISD launched the first of its kind Youth Apprenticeship Program in South Texas. The program is a pilot project driven by the idea of developing the talent pipeline for McAllen businesses. The program is a win-win-win-win for the students, businesses, STC, and McAllen ISD. This initiative is a Department of Labor certified apprenticeship program, which means these students are a “step-ahead” of their peers in the labor market. The training provided by STC for the apprenticeship certification is customized for each business and each student. The students follow a training pathway and the companies get the opportunity to develop talent from the ground-up. Another important factor in this program is that the students get paid as they learn. This is not an internship program or a job-shadowing program. These are real jobs with real skill sets that…

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Top Five Small Business Winners

Every year, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce honors the community’s Top Five Small Businesses, and this year’s honorees are just outstanding! Small businesses drive the success of our community. The investment, and jobs created and sustained by small businesses, are essential to the overall health of McAllen.  They are a key indicator of the economic vitality of our city. Here are this year’s winners: Boultinghouse Simpson Gates Architects was established in 1990 when two firms owned by Danny Boultinghouse and Bob Simpson merged. The firm is well known for its quality work and involvement in the community. The company has seen a 333% increase in employment and has also seen a steady 5% increase in business the last three years while expanding into San Antonio, Laredo, and Buda. The firm has completed numerous major projects over the years including the McAllen Public Library, the Museum of South Texas History, the…

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Four Key Elements for an Effective Briefing

Meetings can be a huge time “killer.” I am amazed at the amount of time many businesses and organizations spend in meetings. There is a fine line between communication that is needed and a waste of time. The other side of the coin is, “I am working in an organization that doesn’t communicate.” So how does a company manage effective communication versus wasting time? Many organizations have allowed their email system to become their “default” method of communication. Emails lose so much in tone, texture, and meaning. I have found emails to be the least effective way to communicate anything beyond just basic information. So how does a person grab someone’s attention without crossing that line of wasting others’ time? The military initially developed the concept of briefings – a process designed to give participants critical information, without wading too much into the “weeds.” Unfortunately, today, the military has modeled…

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Four Kinds of Words

Words are powerful. Because we are bombarded daily with so many words, we forget the powerful impact they can have on our lives. People can be flippant with words, not realizing they have the power to increase or decrease. Words have the power to set ideas into motion, movements and businesses. Words can start a relationship or destroy a relationship. Words can bring hope or despair. Words can inspire, mend, and heal. Words are important and how they are used does make a difference. Words of encouragement, that are sincere, almost always matter. You may say something encouraging and you may think it did not register with the person – but it did. Those words of encouragement come back to people in their darkest hours when hope seems lost. Integ­rity is the key to our words. When we say “yes” it should be “yes” and we should honor our commitment.…

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2018 McAllen Chamber Innovation Grant Winners

For 11 years the McAllen Chamber of Commerce has awarded the Chamber’s Innovation Grant. The Innovation Grant Awards program is designed to help inventors and entrepreneurs move their ideas one step closer to the marketplace. This program has grown every year and there are two key traits that have emerged as we engage these successful entrepreneurs. Every one of these winners exhibits two key traits that seem fundamental to their success. First, winners ask the “why” question. “Why does something have to be this way?” The successful entrepreneur never lets go of the “why.” They think about it, they research it, and they ask lots of questions concerning, “why?” Second, the successful entrepreneur never quits. It sounds simple, but it is an attitude that is the make or break for success. It does not matter how many times they are told no, the successful entrepreneur just keeps going. All the…

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Tech Upgrades Mean Blazing Internet Speeds at Incubator & TechSpace

In the Rio Grande Valley, coworking spaces have become a vital component of the local business landscape. Being able to share ideas, physical space, and creativity with like-minded and passionate individuals in a collaborative environment is fantastic for established businesses and startup companies alike. However, with more people come more devices, and the sheer amount of devices and technology connected to a single source can consume enormous amounts of bandwidth. But luckily for your business, there’s the McAllen Creative Incubator and TechPlace coworking space. As the McAllen Creative Incubator and TechSpace recently added more room for coworking, it was also the perfect time to perform a tech upgrade to the network and add extra capacity. Now, the McAllen Creative Incubator and TechPlace sport a blazingly fast 1GB per second connection to the Internet! This means that Wi-Fi speeds in the Incubator are faster than almost anything around! This boost to…

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Bigger & Better: McAllen Business Expo 2018 Recap

What do you get when you bring together over 150 businesses, thousands of attendees, 140 door prizes, fantastic networking opportunities and one singing Killer Bee all in one gorgeous convention center. The 2018 McAllen Business Expo, of course. This year’s expo was one for the books with business leaders from a diverse range of industries attending this spectacular event to represent their unique brands. Now in its 20th year, the expo started with a bang – the MegaNetwork event. Business owners from all over the Rio Grande Valley came together to share insight, experiences, and generate referrals. The energy was lively as attendees at the networking event eagerly shared “war stories” and connected with local influencers. Plenty of valuable advice was shared and newer business owners had the perfect opportunity to raise their profile. Suffice to say that the networking event did exactly what it was supposed to do -…

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Perspective is Everything

In the past, I’ve written about two secrets for success in small business; those two secrets were “have to” and “I can.” Another secret to true success in small business, and really anything in life, is your attitude. How a person thinks ultimately translates into words and actions. Attitude is such an intangible aspect of our behavior, but also so critical to so many things in life. As I was sitting outside thinking about dogs and how they act, I began to think about attitude and the difference between how a dog views the world and how a teenager views the world. Here is what I think a dog and a teenager may think…but I am not too sure about the teenager. Dog: “I get up at 5:30 a.m. and I am so excited. I am wagging my tail as hard as I can to get these people up and…

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The Value of Work

Geoffrey Owens has been in the news recently. For those of you who don’t remember, Geoffrey Owens is an actor who had a recurring role on The Cosby Show throughout the mid-80s and the early 90s. He has also been on several TV shows since then, including Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Secret Life of an American Teenager, and Built to Last. For the last 15 months, he had worked at Trader Joe’s in New Jersey because the job gave him the flexibility to pursue acting and directing gigs. Last week a fan recognized the actor at Trader Joe’s, took a picture of him working the cash register, and posted it on social media. What was shocking were the Internet “trolls” who tried to shame him because of his desire to work and support himself while pursuing his dreams. Therein lies the “rub” and what our culture has to…

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McAllen is Booming: City Earns Top Spot As Boomtown

It’s a great time to live and work in McAllen! Our gorgeous city was recently recognized by personal finance site MagnifyMoney as one of the Top 10 biggest boomtowns in the nation when categorized by: population and housing; workforce and earnings; and business growth over a five-year period. Even more amazingly, McAllen was ranked #1 out of the 100 largest metro areas in the nation in terms of rising salaries. Growing work opportunities, rising wages, and a flourishing workforce has made McAllen the South Texas city to be in. The study focused on the five-years between 2011 and 2016. During this time frame, McAllen’s civilian labor workforce grew by 8.7 percent, its unemployment rate decreased by 10.9 percent, and median worker earnings soared by 18.4 percent. Amazingly, revenues in McAllen rose by 19.1 percent during these five-years. McAllen’s metro population during this period also grew by a substantial 9.4 percent…

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The Law of the Harvest

The Law of the Harvest is the principle that states that you grow and reap where you focus your attention and efforts. We discuss with new chamber members how the Law of the Harvest is key to their membership. Small business owners are managers, HR specialists, customer service reps, finance gurus, chief strategists, marketers, and janitors; they do it all. The challenge for small business owners, with so many things on their plates, is how to grow their business. If a small business does not invest the time and effort to grow their economic pie and business model, they will wake up one day and there will be no business. The McAllen Chamber of Commerce helps solve one of the most fundamental questions for a small business, “How do I effectively and efficiently grow my business?” This question can be answered by being a part of the McAllen Chamber of…

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