Category Archives: Chamber News

Offering An Alternative Owner of Ya’ax Vegan Foods, Andrea Rivera, a McAllen Chamber Innovation Grant Award winner, created her spreads and foods to alleviate health issues

 Innovation Grant winner finds inspiration in illness BY BENJAMIN TREVIÑO STAFF WRITER Starting a business is a challenging process. It’s even more challenging when dealing with the burdens of chronic illness. However, for at least one McAllen family, illnesses were the inducement for their business idea. “I had a problem pregnancy with my second baby,” Andrea Rivera recalled. “I was undergoing steroid treatments, and I was always tired. My skin was dry, my nails were chipping, and my teeth were falling out. My husband, Dwight, had PTSD, anxiety, and several knee surgeries from an injury he suffered in the Army. He was on a lot of pills and he gained a lot of weight. I wanted something better for us.” Andrea set out to change her husband’s diet and her own. Using their mother’s recipes, Andrea and her sister, Maria Montiel, started a line of keto-friendly foods and spreads that…

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He is now ten years old, but Jon came into our lives three years ago when our youngest son and his wife adopted him from the Texas foster care system. Jon’s story is one of unimaginable abuse–emotional, physical, and other things too horrible to mention; horrors that Jeanette and I cannot understand or fathom. Jon’s biological mother abused drugs and sold her body to feed her drug addiction.  He would be taken by the state and returned several times to his mother and his family with five other children. But he was not wanted and was treated harshly by the very people you would think would protect a child, their family. Unfortunately, the foster care system was not any better, and Jon was placed in foster home after foster home. The situation became so bad that Jon was, one time, duct-taped to a chair by a foster family because of…

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New Democratic Socialism and Marxist Theory

In the coming months, the voters in our country are going to hear a discussion about “Democratic Socialism”. Defenders of this new “Democratic Socialism” argue that the Soviet Union was an aberration of socialism and was not the norm. The new groups that are now pushing this new generation of “Democratic Socialism” claim their vision and version is a kinder and gentler socialism, with democratic inclusiveness, social justice, and egalitarianism for all.  These new advocates claim to reject the socialism of the Soviet Union and claim any attempt to link their version to the old Soviet Union socialism is an attempt to throw their ideas into disrepute through guilt by association. The problem with their argument is that any claim of socialism that is based on class conflict is still based on Marxist theory and forms.  The claim about the “one percent wealthy” is merely a modification of Marxian terminology…

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Five Leadership Lessons from Grant

Leading and the core elements of leading are interesting to study. One area that is fascinating to study is military leaders. Their leadership role is much larger for one simple reason – lives are at stake. Military leaders are literally making life and death decisions. It is a responsibility that weighs on them long after the battle or war is over.  For the rest of us, there are key lessons to be learned in leading from military leaders. I am thankful I do not have to make those types of decisions. One general in particular always stands out to me – Ulysses S Grant. He demonstrated, at the Union’s lowest point in the Civil War, that he could lead and win.  He showed the resolve to defeat Robert E. Lee, who had become almost mystical, both in the North and South. Lee had become that figure and leader the Union…

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Five Fatal Flaws for an Employee

Many times, a business or organization is faced with a tough decision concerning keeping an employee or letting an employee go. Those moments as a leader or manager are never easy, but a situation or event has forced a decision to be made. How to evaluate and document what is essential to the organization is critical. Understanding what can be fixed and what cannot are important questions. Here are my five fatal flaws that would cause a serious conversation about termination: Lack of ability to learn from mistakes – We all make mistakes; mistakes are part of the human experience. I don’t worry too much about what I call “one-off” mistakes. “One-off” mistakes are missteps that happen just once. What catches a leader’s attention is the same type of mistake that is being made repeatedly. A mistake is corrected, but the person then keeps making the same mistake over and…

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Coldwell Banker La Mansion Real Estate Broker AND Socialife Magazine President/Publisher   1) What item would you not travel without? My cellphone. That’s my lifeline to everything, especially if my kids aren’t with me. 2) What is your greatest passion? That would be my children and now, my grandbaby.  3) Who is a person you admire the most? Why? My mother, because since I was very young, I always saw her working, taking care of all five of us kids. She was very protective of her kids, very hands-on, domineering, and a strong person. At 88 she still looks amazing and is full of life, very healthy. She’s funny, sassy, witty, and gives the best advice. All five of us are still trying to please her and make her proud. 4) Where do you go for your favorite meal? It would be very hard to pick one because the McAllen…

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CEO/Owner  Carats, Jewelry and Fine Gifts   1) What is your favorite book? I have quite a few because I was a Latin American Literature major. I think my favorite is The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. It’s hard to choose. 2) What is your favorite movie? I’m a big fan of film director Pedro Almodóvar so I choose Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. 3) What is your favorite vacation spot? Anywhere that has a beach or any place that I have not been. I have a bucket list of places I want to go see. 4) What is your life’s motto? Do good to others not because of who they are, but because of who you are. This was written by Oleg Vishnepolsky but I really do believe in that.  5) Where were you born? Brownsville, Texas 6) What was a life-changing event in your life? When…

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Chief Information Officer, Tex Mex Recycling   Skylar Stoleson has as many layers as the company he works for. When you’re the Chief Information Officer of Tex Mex Recycling, the vast amount of information that flows through your brain is mind-boggling. The company deals with the destruction of government agency electronics such as the Border Patrol, Homeland Security and U.S. Marshall’s from Corpus Christi south. “We have a 48 bay eraser and then we’ll shred the hard drives,” Stoleson said. “It’s all to government standards.” That’s just the icing on the cake. The variety of plastics Tex Mex Recyling and its sister Mexican company Tecnologias de Plastico recycle is beyond comprehension. Each plastic with its fillers of glass or talc, each color of plastic, each percentage of ingredients per plastic, and the different heat retention ingredients all make the recycling of the extensive array of plastics a complex affair. Then…

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Office Manager Supreme Credit Services   Life-changing! Going to work for Supreme Credit Services in 2017 was a shock for office manager Leonor Medina.  “When I first started with the company, Joe Martinez, the owner, told me we were going to be part of the McAllen Chamber’s Expo and I was going to do a presentation,” Medina said. “I thought I was going to simply do office work. I was super shy, very quiet, and quite sure I couldn’t do what he was asking.” Two years later, with Expos and Power Networks behind her and months as an Ambassador, Medina is a changed woman.  Passionate about her work with Supreme Credit Services, which is registered and bonded with the state, and with helping people buy their homes by guiding them to rebuild their credit, Medina is a powerhouse. Confident, outspoken, and inspired by her work on Weslaco’s Centennial Committee, she…

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Vote “YES” to add amendment which will prohibit the state from levying an income tax

Texas Proposition 4, the Prohibit State Income Tax on Individuals Amendment, is on the ballot in Texas as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on November 5, 2019. Please take note of the way the issue for voting will be added to the ballot: A “yes” vote supports adding an amendment to prohibit the state from levying an income tax on individuals to the Texas Constitution, which requires a two-thirds legislative vote and a statewide referendum to amend. A “no” vote opposes this amendment, thus continuing to allow the state to enact a tax on individuals in the future through a simple majority legislative vote and a statewide referendum. Please contact the Chamber at 956-682-2871 for more information.

RGV Innovators and Entrepreneurs

I spend a lot of my time working with startups and entrepreneurs, and it is one of the most rewarding and exciting parts of my day that I get to do at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. Seeing some of the fantastic ideas in development, and some even becoming realities, is thrilling. Our culture believes creating something from nothing can be done overnight and that entrepreneurs and innovators catch “lightning in a bottle”. In actuality, that couldn’t be any further from the truth. The average entrepreneur and innovator we work with will take almost five years to get his/her idea to a profitable stage, if it makes it that far. So, here are a few things I have noticed about our local entrepreneurs and innovators: They have lots of ideas – The innovators we work with have lots of ideas, and one approach leads to two or more ideas in…

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McAllen Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors (Part II)

Last week, I wrote about the McAllen Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. The Chamber board has been strategic in finding key leaders across sections of McAllen’s economy who bring to the table relationships and the ability to drive critical goals for the Chamber. The McAllen Chamber of Commerce Board is the tipping point, or “X” factor, for our organization. Here is Part II of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors: Jason Leal – Jason is the immediate past treasurer for the Chamber and brings a robust analytical approach to the trends financially impacting the Chamber, along with the benefits of a long-term banking relationship. Todd Mann – Todd is new to the board and is President and CEO of McAllen Medical Center. The healthcare industry is a massive driver in the local economy and is impacting the community in a variety of ways. Carlos Melguizo – Carlos…

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The McAllen Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors (Part I)

The new fiscal year for the McAllen Chamber of Commerce started October 1, and I am excited about all the new things the Chamber will be doing this coming year. One of the essential touchstones for the Chamber’s success is the board of directors. These businessmen and businesswomen make such a huge difference in our success and bring the intangible, or “X” factor, to the table. The board has the ability to commit to, and see the possibilities for, the future and the role the McAllen Chamber can play in the business community. Listed here are the people who are driving the Chamber’s success: Sally Fraustro-Guerra – Board chair and “connector”. Sally knows everyone and has stepped up, time and time again, in making things happen at/for the Chamber. She is always positive and willing to do whatever it takes for this organization to be successful. Bob Boggus – Chair-elect…

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The GoodPitch Competition

  The elevator pitch is the most powerful and concise description of you, your company, or your products boiled down to 2 minutes. It answers five basic questions, and it encourages the listener to request, “Tell me more.” The first step is to develop answers to the following questions: 1. What value do you provide? 2. How do you provide this value? 3. What is unique about your offer? 4. What is your target market? 5. Why do they care? Or, What’s in it for them? (For example, include in your answer “so that they can,” “who can no longer afford,” or “who are tired of.”) The next step is to practice… Remember!!! YOU ONLY HAVE 2 MINUTES