Chamber celebrates 125-year anniversary

Yesterday, the Chamber kicked off our 125-year anniversary with a press conference at the KLRN Studios to honor and highlight some of our organization’s most significant accomplishments and unveil our commemorative logo. Throughout our history, we have had an enormous impact on economic development, military development, transportation, water resources, the sports industry, international trade, and more.

The Chamber’s Interim Chair and President and CEO of Southwest Research Institute Adam Hamilton kicked off the press conference, welcomed board members and special guests in attendance, and thanked our former Chairs for their service to the organization. “These fantastic business leaders have all given their time and talent, developed priorities to better our community, and served at the helm of the San Antonio Chamber, and I would like to thank them for that,” said Adam. He then introduced 1998 Chair of the Board and Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.

Judge Wolff shared that there are approximately 4,000 Chamber of Commerce in the United States, but few have the leadership capacity that the San Antonio Chamber has shown over many years. Judge Wolff discussed the Chamber’s role in the 1968 World’s Fair and our leadership in economic development. He also talked about the Chamber’s focus on Military Affairs. “We would not be the community we are without the consistent leadership that the Chamber has shown with respect to preserving our military bases here, enhancing bases here, and helping us with the transition of some of them,” said Judge Wolff. “I don’t care what happens in San Antonio, if it’s something good, the Chamber is there to make it happen,” he added.

Following Judge Wolff, 1994 Chamber Chair and Head Coach and Chairman of the Beldon Group of Companies Mike Beldon shared that the Chamber has created and spun-off significant organizations that make a very real difference in our community, including:

  • The Fiesta San Antonio Commission;
  • The South Texas Medical Foundation;
  • Paseo del Rio, which has become the San Antonio Riverwalk;
  • The San Antonio Economic Development Foundation;
  • San Antonio Sports;
  • San Antonio Mobility Coalition (SAMCo); and
  • BioMedSA.

“Clearly, through all of these, the Chamber has played a major role in moving San Antonio forward,” Mike concluded.

The Chamber’s 2011 Chair and President and CEO of Pape-Dawson Engineers Sam Dawson also shared some additional accomplishments, including the Chamber’s role in:

  • Leading efforts to locate Kelly Air Force Base and Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio and developed and carried out a plan to purchase land for Randolph Air Force Base, and
  • Securing funding for the new 450-bed Brooke Army Medical Center hospital, which has now grown into the San Antonio Military Medical Center.

Sam also discussed the Chamber’s role in the development of:

  • The San Antonio Livestock Exposition,
  • Hemisfair,
  • HemisFair Plaza, and
  • Our local highway system.

When taking about water resources, Sam said, “The reason that San Antonio has a 50 year supply of water is the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.” Sam wrapped up his remarks with some of the Chamber’s most recent accomplishments, including:

  • Taking a leadership role in discussions on modernizing NAFTA;
  • Defeating the City’s efforts to include a Labor Peace Agreement requirement within the Request for Proposals for a Food, Beverage, and Retail Prime Concessionaire at the San Antonio International Airport; and
  • Launching Project Ability to discuss ways to engage individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in local employment opportunities.

Richard Perez, President and CEO of the San Antonio, wrapped-up the event by thanking our speakers. He also thanked the business community for their leadership and support in helping the Chamber make things happen. “You all bring knowledge, experience, expertise that has allowed this organization to do the things it has done.”

To watch the full video of the press conference, click here. (Video footage courtesy of KLRN.)

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