125 years of history celebrated with magical night at the annual Chamber Gala

For the last 125 years, the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce has had the pleasure of growing, sustaining, promoting, and working in partnership the business community to propel our city forward. Last week, we showed our appreciation and highlighted the hard work of both this past year and the past 125 years at our  Annual Gala.

Before the Gala kicked off, our special guests had an opportunity to mix, mingle, and catch up with friends at the Chairman’s Cocktail Reception, while also participating in a unique photo booth experience. Sponsored by Firstmark Credit Union, each photo taken at the photo booth was converted into a tile on a mosaic wall, which recreated the logo of its sponsor.

To start the program, our President and CEO Richard Perez provided opening remarks that focused on the Chamber’s early history, starting in 1894 and paid tribute to the 113 men and women who have served as Chair of the Board over the last 125 years. SeaWorld San Antonio’s Sarah Wood sang the National Anthem and former Chamber Chairman Sam Dawson, CEO of Pape-Dawson Engineers, led the invocation. During dinner, musical entertainment from the Revue delighted patrons with pop, jazz, and soul tunes.

This year, the annual gala followed a different format. For the first time in Chamber history, the gala program commemorated the strongest and most memorable events of the last 125 years with an awards show. Across five categories, notable Chamber members, former chairs, and Richard himself presented the winners in a scene reminiscent of the Academy Awards.

Taking home awards that night, in the first category for “Most Impactful Military Accomplishment,” were representatives from Port San Antonio and Brooks for the Chamber’s efforts in securing the land for Brooks Air Force Base and Kelley Air Force Base in 1917. For the “Best Committee Accomplishment,” it couldn’t be anything but our world famous San Antonio River Walk, which originated in the Chamber in 1958.

In the category of “Greatest Economic Impact Project”, we recognized the success in bringing Toyota’s North American manufacturing plant to our city in 2003, which has since brought thousands of jobs to our community. Next up, for our “Most Impactful Legislative Win,” we celebrated the victory in the most recent legislative session in achieving school finance reform for our state.

Lastly, our Gala attendees voted live for the category of “Favorite Chamber Spin-Off.” With the numbers tallied, the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation came out on top, against an impressive list of contenders including the Fiesta Commission, San Antonio Sports, SAMCo, and the San Antonio Medical Foundation.

With the awards doled out, the program turned attention to the Chamber’s incoming Chair Adam Hamilton, President and CEO of Southwest Research Institute, who challenged our business community to be innovative and creative in providing ways for our employees to attain their highest educational desires. “In 2020, I would like the Chamber to feature and celebrate the best business innovations for enabling our motivated employees to succeed,” Adam said. “At our 2020 Gala, we will feature the best innovations in practice that illustrate and underscore the commitment of our business community to the future of San Antonio.”

Following his speech, Adam invited his new leadership team to the stage and gave attendees a preview of what to expect from the Chamber under his leadership as Chair.

After adjourning, guests electing to continue celebrating had their pick of savory and sweet snacks and dancing to the music of DJ Freddy Washington. With the last guests and members of staff staying well into the night, it’s safe to say that the 125th Annual Gala was nothing short of unforgettable.

It is because of your Chamber’s dedicated members and supporters we have been allowed to accomplish our most crowning achievements of the last 125 years. With a membership of more than 2,100 of the brightest, hard-working, loyal business minds of San Antonio, we feel incredibly fortunate to stand where we are in the history of our city. It is our vision that the next 125 years will be just as exciting, impactful, and memorable as the first 125 years, if not more so.

Finally, we give our sincerest thanks to our sponsors, including:

  • Presenting sponsor CPS
  • Platinum sponsor USAA
  • Benefactor Sponsors:
    • Norton Rose Fulbright
    • Pape Dawson Engineers
    • Spurs Sports and Entertainment
    • Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas
  • Patron Sponsors:
    • AT&T
    • Bank of America
    • BioBridge Global
    • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas
    • Boeing
    • Brooks
    • Computer Solutions
    • Digital Defense
    • Frost
    • Garza, Bomberger and Associates
    • Methodist Healthcare
    • Port San Antonio
    • Raba Kistner
    • SeaWorld San Antonio
    • Silver Eagle Distributors
    • SWBC
    • Texas Capital Bank
    • Union Pacific Railroad
    • United Healthcare
    • Valero
    • Visit San Antonio
    • Vulcan Materials Company
    • Whataburger

We are grateful for everyone who joined us and cannot stress enough just how much we enjoy your company. Your Chamber looks forward to 2020 under the leadership of Adam Hamilton, Chair-elect Hope Andrade, and the scores of members who bring passion and ideas to our councils, committees, and board meetings. After 125 years, the work is not over. It is only just beginning.

To see photos from the event, click here.

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