Category Archives: Chamber News

MEET YOUR AMBASSADOR – FRED MARTINEZ

Fred Martinez, owner of Fred Martinez, LLC, has a passion for his work that wakes him up in the morning and puts a smile on his face and a bounce in his step. “When I’m able to look at a client’s books and determine within 10 minutes how they are doing or how the company has managed their books in QuickBooks, that’s my passion,” said Martinez, whose areas of expertise includes QuickBooks, payroll, and taxes. He has found his calling with his bookkeeping and tax preparation business, and also as an Ambassador. “At first, being an Ambassador was a way to meeting potential clients,” Fred explained. “As time passed, the Ambassadors have become my friends. The relationships we build are tremendous. I have learned that to be successful with the Chamber, you have to be active in the Chamber.” When he’s not working, Fred loves to travel with his wife.…

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Updated Summary of the Paycheck Protection Program Established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

An article from Dykema Gossett PLLC The CARES Act has now been passed by both the House and the Senate and signed into law by the President on March 27, 2020. One of the highlights of the CARES Act for small businesses is the establishment of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The PPP is an expansion of the existing SBA 7(a) loan program in an effort to provide eligible participants with access to up to $10 million (covered loans) for the period from February 15, 2020, through June 30, 2020, (covered period) as a way to keep their employees on the payroll to get through the COVID-19 crisis. Who is eligible? Among those eligible include: Businesses and qualified 501(c)(3) nonprofits with not more than 500 employees worldwide, or the applicable size standard for the industry as provided by the SBA, if that number is higher A business in the food…

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Walking Through the Valley of the Virus

These are unprecedented times. I sometimes refer to this as our moment walking through the “valley of the virus.” The most important thing to remember is that this is not our destination, but a moment we are walking through. We need to continue to strengthen our resolve and confidence and to replace the fear with facts. As a community and as a region, we are very resilient and retain a lot of “grit.” Our greatest asset is us, not resources, infrastructure, money, or connections, but our human spirit.   Here are a couple of things to remember:   Get the facts. There is so much misinformation on social media and in the rumor mill. Understand, everything you see on the internet is not true. Sometimes our human nature is to focus on the negative and the worst-case scenarios — let it go. Use your wisdom and discernment to wade through…

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Take Care Of Yourself During COVID-19

While we might know the symptoms of COVID-19 like the back of our extremely clean hand, it is important to be aware of the additional ways the virus can be impacting others. Through all of the doom and gloom, it is imperative that everyone remain mindful of their current state of mental health. With all of the stressors that come with a global pandemic, it is normal to feel like things are out of your control. But with a loss of control comes a feeling of hopelessness, and often times, it can be consuming. There may be increased fears about you or your loved ones contracting the virus, or fears about what the pandemic’s impact will have on your employment. Additionally, with public health restrictions in place like social distancing and other measures being taken to decrease face-to-face interaction, it is easy to feel increasingly isolated. While these are all…

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Coming Together During COVID-19

The last few weeks have been a trying time for communities everywhere. There’s no shortage of uncertainty while each passing day brings a new set of changes and disruptions to our day-to-day lives. In the weeks and months that follow, we will continue to see how the COVID-19 pandemic continues to play a role in our everyday functions, and what kind of lasting impacts it has on our lives moving forward. Despite every day seems like a flurry of bad news, misinformation and a rumor mill that won’t quit, there is reason to have hope in these uncertain times. Know for one, that this is but a passing moment in our history and eventually, as all things do, this will end. We will gather in crowded malls on a Saturday afternoon once again, and we will sit in packed theaters for the midnight premiere of the next great Hollywood blockbuster.…

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What You Can Do to Support Local Businesses

In tough times, our community has a record of pulling together. Today, and in the coming days and weeks, we will be having another one of those moments. Do we rise to the challenge, or do we seek to shelter in and practice non-involvement and isolation? This flu season and COVID-19 are severe and are impacting communities in different ways. This season will also be a great opportunity for us to come together and get through this moment, collectively and not individually.  The economic impact of this challenge could be severe. Supporting our local businesses is essential. There are ways to be safe and not spread the flu, but also make sure restaurants, bars, hotels, retail stores, and every other kind of business can survive this moment. Here are some simple steps to support our local businesses:  Order take out or curbside. Support your favorite restaurant by ordering from them…

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Seven Things to Do to Connect and Network

Connecting to people and building networks of contacts and connections are critical for any business’s success. One of the key benefits we offer at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce is the ability to connect with a wide array of people and businesses. At our core nature, we want to do business with people we know or have met.  Some people find connecting and networking easy and almost second nature. Others may find networking and connecting uncomfortable and hard to do daily. There are some basic things a person can do to communicate with other people. Here are seven things to do: Show interest in others. People know pretty quickly if you are “not really interested” in them and you are just trying to make a sale. The quick connection and sale mentality are a big turn-off. People who can carry on a conversation with everyone and show genuine interest are…

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Sharing Bad News

Communication can be a challenge for any business or organization. Some companies are good at sharing information and others, not so much. Effective communication can be the tipping point between success and failure. Ineffective communication in an organization creates rumors and a needless waste of time that affects morale and productivity. Sharing news good or bad, if done the right way, can help achieve a high performing business. Here are six key ways to communicate and share good or bad news: Don’t wait. Our human nature tends to make us wait when it comes to bad news. It is better to share information immediately, as opposed to waiting. In today’s work environment, there is constant discussion of “transparency.”  Giving people information in a timely fashion is acting transparently. The other key is trust in leadership. By withholding critical information, we quickly destroy faith within an organization.  Make the meeting face–to-face.…

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The SCAMPER Method (Part III)

I continue this week with the SCAMPER method as a way to develop a new idea or to make a breakthrough with a product or service. So, here are the final three letters in the process. 5) “P” is for put to another use – Think about how you can take a current product or idea and put it to a different purpose. Many times, a concept only turns out to be great when applied differently. Here are several key questions to ask: Is it possible to utilize this product elsewhere, maybe in a different industry? Who else can utilize this product? Would this product function differently in a different setting? What else can it be utilized for? Is it possible to recycle the product’s waste to make something new? Could it be used for people with specific disabilities? Is there another problem the product can solve?  Are there applications…

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The SCAMPER Method (Part II)

Last week I introduced the SCAMPER model for innovation and creativity.  The model is used widely in innovation circles and provides a solid foundation in developing new ideas, even if you think you are not very creative or innovative. Asking some key questions is critical for success.  Last week I wrote about the letter “S” for substitute and how trying to replace materials, ingredients, or use can bring a breakthrough. The letter “C” was combining, and how bringing unlike things together, you can get a new product like rolling suitcases or phones with music and cameras.  This week we add “A” and “M” to the process. 3. “A” is for Adapt – Think of a solution for another problem you may mold to suit your situation. “Necessity is the mother of all inventions.” Sometimes conditions force us to try something totally outside the norm.  Here are some key questions: Is…

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McAllen ISD student named Finalist in National Merit Scholarship Program

McAllen ISD student David Li has been named to a prestigious group of national scholars that places him in the top one percent of students nationwide who took part in the program. Officials of National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) announced this month that Li was one of approximately 15,000 Finalists in the 65th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. Li is a student in the International Baccalaureate Programme based at Lamar Academy. His home campus is McAllen Memorial High. The IB is a globally recognized, rigorous curriculum. It aims to educate all students to become lifelong learners and productive citizens in an ever-changing global society through a comprehensive, academically challenging program of studies that uses technology and community resources. McAllen ISD offers the Primary Years Programme (grades 1-5), the Middle Years Programme (grades 6-10) and the Diploma Programme (grades 11-12). The National Merit Scholarship Semifinalists have an opportunity to continue in…

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McAllen, other Texas cities hoping to benefit from new sales tax policy

BY MITCHELL FERMAN STAFF WRITER, THE MONITOR It’s not in-person shopping that leaders in McAllen have been unsure about. They know consumers spend money at La Plaza Mall and other brick-and-mortar stores across the city. But online sales have been tricky to quantify, they said, and following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Texas regulators are now working to tweak the interpretation of the sales tax revenue law that could allow hundreds of cities across the state like McAllen to receive some new revenues and be able to quantify online sales. “Once these rules are implemented, you’ll have an idea,” McAllen Chamber of Commerce President Steve Ahlenius said about measuring online sales in municipalities. “It evens the playing field,” McAllen Mayor Jim Darling said. McAllen’s economy relies heavily on sales tax revenues, with a significant portion stemming from sales at La Plaza Mall. City officials reported a record year of sales tax…

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The SCAMPER Method (Part I)

When the McAllen Chamber of Commerce works with start-ups or very early-stage businesses and discusses how they can enhance their products or services, we use the SCAMPER method. The process is a series of questions designed to start the thought process of improving or driving an innovation for a product or service. Many people think there needs to be an “AHA” moment, but most innovations or new concepts don’t work that way. A person does not need to be a Steve Jobs or Albert Einstein to have a breakthrough. The process is quite simple, and it only requires being able to ask hard questions of the product or service. At the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, we use design thinking, which requires the business owners or founders to think from their customer’s perspective, and the customer’s burning problem. Here are the essential elements of the SCAMPER method: 1.“S” is for Substitute…

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2019 MAN & WOMAN OF THE YEAR – JESSICA DELGADO & BOB BOGGUS

Jessica Delgado Co-owner, Delgado Collective   Bob Boggus Owner/President, Boggus Ford   Aren’t you grateful to be living in a city like McAllen, Texas, where picking a Man & Woman of the Year from all the deserving members of this community is such a hard job? How lucky McAllen is to have such outstanding people living here – people who are willing to give back by sharing their time and talents where they are most needed.  Jessica Delgado, co-owner of Delgado Collective, was stunned when McAllen Chamber of Commerce CEO Steve Ahlenius called to inform her of her new title. “What?” she stammered. “You’ve been named McAllen Chamber’s Woman of the Year,” Ahlenius repeated. “Oh, my gosh. Thank you so much, Steve. I’ll see you soon.” After she hung up, Jessica realized what had just happened. Her road to the award started on her road to the restaurant business, which…

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12 QUESTIONS WITH MCALLEN CHAMBER – TODD MANN

Todd Mann CEO of South Texas Health System, McAllen   1) What is your favorite book? The Lady or The Tiger by Frank R. Stockton. Most of the time a book is driven to tell you something. Anyone can read it and will interpret it differently but the end result is always there for you. The Lady or The Tiger does not give you that option. The book ends and you don’t know whether he gets the lady or the tiger. It leaves you with an empty feeling of what it is but allows you to create your own ending in your mind. That book has always stuck with me. 2) What is your favorite movie? I’m not a movie buff, but probably the original Star Wars. It was so revolutionary and was something we hadn’t seen. Probably second to that would be Planet of the Apes. It’s just amazing…

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