Category Archives: Chamber News

Engaging McAllen

There’s much to be said for a community that keeps abreast of national and state issues and strives to bring new ideas, businesses, perpsectives and business models to the area. And that’s exactly what McAllen has been demonstrating via the overwhelming public support of the Newsmakers Breakfast Series, a partnership between the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and The Monitor, and sponsored by IBC Bank. We are pleased to announce that the series will feature U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, who will be interviewed for an hour by Monitor Editor Carlos Sanchez on Thursday at the McAllen Chamber building at 1200 Ash Ave. This is the fourth such event held at the McAllen Chamber since the Newsmaker series kicked off in October with Washington Post syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr. Other speakers have included former U.S. ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza. The events are unscripted and allow Sanchez to interview…

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Jim Laffoon steps into the role of president and chief executive officer at Security Service Federal Credit Union

 Jim Laffoon has been named president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Security Service Federal Credit Union (SSFCU) by the credit union’s Board of Directors. Since 2012, Laffoon has served as the credit union’s president. As president and CEO, Laffoon is responsible for day-to-day operations of the enterprise and strategic direction for SSFCU’s nearly 2,000 employees in Texas, Colorado and Utah. SSFCU’s former CEO, David E. Reynolds, retired in March.   Laffoon began his career with SSFCU in 1989 and steadily advanced into roles of increasing responsibility, serving as the credit union’s primary strategist, corporate planner, technologist and operations manager. He was named executive vice president and chief operating officer in 2002.  Laffoon earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in finance from The University of Texas. Before joining SSFCU, he served as a senior consultant with Arthur Anderson and Co.  About Security Service Federal Credit Union Security…

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STC and McAllen Chamber Creative Incubator Partner to Offer Fall Classes

South Texas College's (STC) Continuing Professional and Workforce Education Department (CPWE), in partnership with the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, will present a variety of art, dance, and music classes starting this April 2014 at the McAllen Creative Incubator. All classes are led by skilled teachers approved by STC Human Resources and are designed to encourage students to unleash their imagination. Formal lessons are scheduled to be offered in a variety of media. Popular classes include oil painting, acting, scrapbooking, cake and floral decoration and even salsa and tango dance instruction. “The McAllen Chamber of Commerce and STC are making an important contribution to cultural activities in McAllen,” said McAllen Chamber of Commerce Director of Arts Development Ivan F. Gonzalez. “We hope that this new project at the McAllen Creative Incubator will provide a valuable legacy to our community.” For a complete schedule of classes and registration, visit STC’s Continuing Professional…

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McAllen Hotel Occupancy Trending Up

            McAllen's hotel occupancy is trending up and leading the county, according to statistics released recently by the Texas Hotel Performance Handbook.             2013 annual figures show McAllen’s revenues jumped 4.8% over 2012, to $61,220,183. Occupancy also gained, from 58.6% to 59.6%, and Average Daily Rate (ADR) improved 2.7% to $87.43.             Occupancy for Hidalgo County as a whole increased .6%, while ADR and revenues kept pace with McAllen.             McAllen ended strong, with fourth quarter numbers showing increases in all three categories- 8% growth in revenues, 3.3% in ADR, and 2% in occupancy.             McAllen fared better than many cities and areas around the state, including Cameron County, Beaumont/Port Arthur, Laredo, Odessa and Wichita Falls.             “This is certainly positive news,” said Nancy Millar, Vice President and Director of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce’s Convention and Visitors’ Bureau. “We are seeing a real turn-around…

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Diana Montemayor Art Exhibit at McAllen Creative Incubator

Internationally recognized artist Diana Montemayor announced today that her work “Taller de Pintura” was chosen for an art exhibition at the McAllen Creative Incubator.  Diana Montemayor is an international artist who is known for her dynamic and colorful oil paintings.  The McAllen Creative Incubator has selected Montemayor’s work for a show for the entire month of February 2014. Diana Montemayor lives and works in Monterrey, N.L. Mexico and been creating her art there and abroad for more than 25 years. “Due to the popularity of Montemayor’s paintings in several countries, we have decided to continue the exhibit for several weeks.” said Ivan Gonzalez, Director of Arts Development for the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. Her artwork is represented in the collections of museums and galleries worldwide, including the Museo del Obispado in  Monterrey, Nuevo León,Galerie Mary-Ann in Mácon, France, Casa de la Cultura de Cruces in Barakaldo, Spain and Torrebillela Kultur Etxea in Mungia, Spain.  Ms.Montemayor currently holds art…

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McAllen High School Mariachis qualify for state finals

The McAllen High School Mariachi Oro has qualified to proceed to the MASBA/UIL State Mariachi Finals February 7-8, in San Antonio. They earned Superior Division I Ratings from all five adjudicators after performing in the South Area Competition January 24-25 at the Edinburg North High Performing Arts Center. “I'm extremely proud of these kids for all the hours of rehearsing, hard work, and dedication that they have put into reaching this goal,” McAllen High Mariachi instructor Alex Trevino said. Only five Class 5A schools from the South Area advanced to state. The members of the McAllen High Mariachis include Katherine Perez, Lindsey Garza, Alan Maciel, Neri Fuentes, Christopher Echevarria, Saul Ruiz, Mia Trevino, Perla Alonzo, Kyline Stephens, Eddy Villarreal, Rogelio Vazquez, Jennifer Lind, Brando Lujan, Joel González, Ricky Jankowski, Jordan Morris and Arturo Villarreal.  Mr. Trevino expressed thanks for the support of Jose Villarreal, McAllen High Mariachi Booster President and…

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McAllen Chamber releases "Livability : McAllen, TX 2014" Magazine

McAllen, TX –– The McAllen Chamber of Commerce recently unveiled Livability: McAllen, TX 2014, a print and digital program that promotes the area to newcomers, visitors and relocating businesses. Content highlights McAllen’s quality of life, business climate, attractions, restaurants and must-do activities. Articles focus on how the McAllen Creative Incubator's inspiring new space contributes to the area’s growing arts community; the diverse local cuisine scene; as well as the global education students are gaining through McAllen Independent School District’s expanding International Baccalaureate programs. Other articles highlight the quality of place amenities that attract people to the McAllen area, including top-quality medical centers, cutting-edge schools and healthy business economy. The area's business climate is strengthened by small businesses such as The Man Shop and Edible Arrangements as well as larger employers in manufacturing and wholesale. Find more great content about McAllen on Livability.com, a national website with information about more than…

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The McAllen Youth Entrepreneur Factory a New Program to Nurture and Promote entrepreneurship in McAllen’s Youth

In an effort to promote entrepreneurship among today’s youth, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and the McAllen Independent School District (MISD) are offering students enrolled in a MISD school the opportunity to participate in “The McAllen Youth Entrepreneur Factory” program.  The program will nurture entrepreneurship and an experience that will inspire future businesses. The process will help students gain a better understanding of how to develop a business idea and find its path to market. The program and competition is intended to simulate the real-world process of entrepreneurs soliciting start-up funds from early-stage investors and venture capital firms. This program is divided into the following phases: First, interested participants should attend an orientation to learn about the process and activities required to complete the program. The second phase is the Idea Lab. The Idea Lab program is an eight session program that proposes several tools to help participants define their…

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Former ambassador Tony Garza next guest at ‘Newsmakers’ series

Dan Santella | The Monitor McALLEN — Former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza will take part in the The Monitor’s Newsmaker Breakfast Series as its third guest at the end of the month. Garza, who served as U.S. ambassador to Mexico between 2002 and 2009, currently works as Counsel for law firm White & Case LLP in Mexico City, according to this website. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of Southern Methodist University, the Dean’s Council at the Harvard School of Public Health, and the Development Board of the University of Texas at Austin. Before serving as U.S. Ambassador, the Brownsville native held a variety of positions with in Texas, including secretary of state, Cameron County judge, senior policy advisor to the governor, and chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission. Sponsored by IBC Bank and held jointly by The Monitorand the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, the Newsmaker Breakfast…

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Next Newsmakers Breakfast Series to feature author Jonathan Last

Journalist and author Jonathan V. Last, senior writer at conservative commentator William Kristol’s The Weekly Standard, will visit the Rio Grande Valley next month for the Newsmakers Breakfast Series organized by the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and The Monitor. Last's recent book – What to Expect When No One's Expecting: America's Coming Demographic Disaster – tackles falling birthrates, which he likened to shifting “tectonic plates” during a January discussion with C-SPAN's Book TV.   The Newsmaker Breakfast Series, sponsored by IBC Bank, centers on a question-and-answer format, with Monitor Editor Carlos Sanchez serving as conversation partner for the visiting newsmaker. The series’ first installment, which featured syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr., was Oct. 17.   Last, the second guest in the series, will join Sanchez on Nov. 13 at the McAllen Chamber. “For anyone interested in business implications or in the issue of immigration reform, this is a must-see event,”…

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Be a Part of the Tradition at the 31st Annual Candlelight Posada

This year marks the 31st anniversary of McAllen’s Candlelight Posada.  The McAllen Chamber of Commerce and the McAllen Parks & Recreation Department are looking for organizations who are interested in participating as food vendors or in the lighted parade.  Applications can be picked up at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce.  Be a part of the tradition, December 7th at Archer Park.  “The Candlelight Posada committee is very excited for this year’s event.  We hope to make this year as festive and memorable as the last,” said Maritza Munoz, Candlelight Posada Coordinator.  “We want to invite the community to participate as food vendors and/or in the lighted parade.  This is a great opportunity to raise funds and awareness for businesses and organizations.”  Candlelight Posada has been very successful in previous years because of the financial support of the local businesses.  “Sponsorship opportunities are also available for both individuals and businesses who…

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Navarrette to kick off "Newsmaker Breakfast Series"

Award-winning journalist Ruben Navarrette Jr. will visit McAllen next month as part of the inaugural Newsmaker Breakfast Series, hosted by the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and The Monitor. Described as “a fresh and increasingly important voice in the national political debate,” the syndicated columnist’s twice-weekly column “offers new thinking on many of the major issues of the day, especially on thorny questions involving ethnicity and national origin,” his website says. First entering into syndication in 2001, Navarrette’s column has appeared in hundreds of newspapers worldwide, includingThe Washington PostandUSA Today. Navarrette first garnered national attention in 1993 with his book,A Darker Shade of Crimson: Odyssey of a Harvard Chicano. In the memoir, he reflected back on the difficulties he faced as a Hispanic student attending the traditionally white university. “[Navarrette] darts his barbs at two chief targets: the old Wasp elite that stifles the university with exclusive rules and expectations, and…

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McAllen Chamber of Commerce accepting nominations for Prestigious Community Service Award

The McAllen Chamber of Commerce is accepting nominations for McAllen’s Man & Woman of the Year 2011.  The recipients of this community service award will be recognized at the Chamber’s 59th Annual Banquet scheduled for Tuesday, November 1 at the McAllen Convention Center.  Since 1955, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce has been honoring outstanding citizens who have had a positive impact on the city of McAllen.  These men and women have volunteered countless hours serving on committees, boards and other organizations in an effort to make a difference for the community in which they live. These individuals have shown acts of exceptional kindness and tireless energy in organizing programs or events for the benefit of our community, giving time and talent to teach, lending a helping hand to those in need, or just making the special effort to ensure that “good things happen” for others and their community.  All clubs and…

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McAllen Chamber awards grants to innovators for wide-ranging invention ideas

By Jacob Fischler | The Monitor | Posted: Sunday, September 1, 2013 8:50 pm McALLEN – What do a delivery drone, a skincare cream and a networking smartphone app have in common? They’re all ideas the McAllen Chamber of Commerce deemed worthy of $5,000 to $10,000 in grant money. The Chamber awarded $45,000 Aug. 22 to five teams for its annual program that disburses innovation grants to local inventors and entrepreneurs. The goal of the competition — which has a budget of $50,000 — is to promote a culture of innovation in the Rio Grande Valley as a way to “create wealth in the community,” Chamber President Steve Ahlenius said. “Inventors and entrepreneurs are going to be some of the major drivers in the 21st century,” he said. Nine teams submitted written proposals to the Chamber in the hopes of earning a $10,000 grant. A panel of five judges plus…

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