The Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce board of directors met Tuesday, Sept. 18. The following are items currently in motion at your chamber:
• The HummerBird Celebration event went on in spite of the rain. More than 1,000 sat through programs, 140 took bus trips, and more than 36 took photography classes. More than 1,000 attended the vendor malls. There were more than 100 cities in Texas, and seven states represented, as well as one man from Japan.
• Appearances on Austin, Houston and San Antonio TV continue so we can stay in front of people letting everyone know we are recovering.
• A State Capitol visit this month was beneficial. We joined about 20 other chambers along the coast speaking with the Greater Houston Partnership and their Governmental Affairs team about legislation that will help our community.
• Continued emailed EOC alerts giving “one voice” information.
• The diversification of our economy is on the minds of our board as we reshape and strengthen our community. The development of an incorporated entity for Economic Development is being pursued so developers have one place to go for information and assistance. The funding of this entity is difficult at this time. The board was given a draft Articles of Incorporation and a Resolution to become familiar with as we progress.
• Another round of Small Business Grant Funds is in the works as chambers in the Coastal Bend unite to coordinate an outdoor concert Nov. 2-3 at TP McCampbell Airport. More details and announcements are forthcoming. We are hoping the next round of grants to be Nov. 1-30. Please stay tuned as we develop this event and funding cycle. There are 950 businesses open, or 84 percent of the businesses open prior to Harvey.
• A State of Energy Luncheon was held in August. The event sold out. It was held to raise funds for legislative action and to obtain a lobbyist to assist with legislation needed for the region.
• Workforce executives are entertaining an idea of locating a workforce employee inside chambers in the Coastal Bend Region, versus a mobile unit. Del Mar College is working with our chamber on a Rebuild Texas grant for skills training for carpenters. The Disaster Employee Assistance Program has been funded so all employees currently in our county through this program can continue for one more year. This includes the long-term recovery team.
• The Long Term Economic Development Plan, adopted by all local entities, continues to revitalize tourism, aides coordination of events, small business assistance and tool kit, community cleanups and volunTOURism. The Volunteer Reception Center continues to accept those in need as well as volunteers willing to help.
• There were 65 membership renewals, eight new members and 15 members who dropped their membership in August. Total membership is 725.
• The Visitor Center had 1,190 walk in visitors, 103 tourism emails, mailed two relocation packets and had 45 call-in inquiries in August. The Charmers, the Visitor Center volunteers, do an awesome job giving out information and materials.
• Leadership Aransas County Alumni proposed, and the board approved, a new “Candidates and Issues School.” Individuals who want to learn and gain insights can attend the school from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25. Location to be announced. Watch for more details.
• Leadership Aransas County Class XXII has been selected. There are 16 class members. Their first event was a workshop orientation Wednesday, Sept. 19.
• The Youth Leadership Aransas County Class is forming. Applications are available at the chamber.
• Two board members have been working with the Galveston Young Professionals regarding how to start a similar program in Aransas County.
• Although the current advertising plan is in place, the City of Rockport has provided funds to be spent in the immediate 50-mile radius where about a half million people reside. The campaign will encourage folks to eat in our restaurants and support our businesses in the fourth quarter. TV commercials and digital ads will start airing soon.
• Events – Helping with an event for each weekend to spur business activity. Keeping special events of the chamber active and fun with good attendance levels is a sign of a good productive chamber. Some of the upcoming events include: Business After Hours the fourth Thursday of the month, Business Breakfast 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Sept. 27 at Bella La Brew, and a QuickBooks Session Series starting Oct. 22. Ask for more information at the chamber.
• Seafair continues to develop for Oct. 11-14. Online ticket sales are going well. The committee needs volunteers. The links to volunteer and all details can be found at www.rockportseafair.com.
• Texas Coastal Bend Regional Tourism Council met for its monthly meeting in Rockport-Fulton. We continue to take a lead role in all activities.
• The Insurance Commission will vote on windstorm rate increases Oct. 15. Please send letters to Texas Department of Insurance requesting they not vote in favor of TWIA’s recommendation to raise rates 10 percent, coupled with the already built in four percent rate increase. A petition is currently underway with more than 1,000 signatures. Go to United Corpus Chamber website to sign the online petition.
• Hospitality Training, made possible by a $5,000 grant through Tourism Cares, is being coordinated at the chamber with classes at the end of the month. The program is free to all businesses. A certified employee is good for your bottom line. Please inquire at the chamber for details.
• The Shop Small Saturday Committee is busy planning for a great retail weekend Nov. 23-24. Your help is needed planning this event.
• The Heroes Cup was held, at which veterans groups and Warriors Weekend officials bring 20-25 active military that have been injured in combat to our area. Local fishing guides took them fishing, and they enjoyed great food.
• Aransas Pathways received our marketing assistance at the HummerBird Celebration. An event was coordinated using a 5-card draw poker hand. The winner of the best hand received a nice set of binoculars.
• Harvey We Won Ribbon Cuttings continue to be an important aspect of the recovery process. Businesses want to celebrate when they reopen. It was a joy to coordinate six such ribbon cuttings in August. The business owner is asked to sign the “Harvey Cookie,” which is a slice of wood from a live oak tree spared by Harvey, given to us by TxDOT from the bypass debris site.
These are the main points of discussion at the board of directors meeting. Governmental representatives present also made reports. The board includes 23 businesses owners, representatives of non-profit organizations. and individuals.
For more information, visit www.rockport-fulton.org, call the chamber at 361-729-6445, or stop by at 319 Broadway, Rockport. TX 78382.