By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ
The new San Benito Chamber of Commerce is currently looking for a place where it can hang its hat.
Members of the Chamber Board of Directors commented this week about efforts to locate a facility that could serve as office space. Also, a new logo will be designed for the Chamber.
Such action comes after several years that the Chamber was in dormancy. However, it was recently revived, thanks to the efforts of the San Benito Area Business Owners Association, which formed early this year in an effort to serve in a similar capacity as the Chamber before decreasing membership and monies owed to the IRS reportedly left it defunct.
The ABOA has since spearheaded projects such as the “I’m Losing it in San Benito” campaign promoting healthy living in the city – even holding an expo this summer to reported success – not to mention acquiring its 501(c)(6) status and forming a board of directors.
Next on the agenda was to reestablish the ABOA as the Chamber, which – as it turned out – wasn’t a difficult task.
According to Lionel Betancourt and Toni Crane of the ABOA, the Association filed with the Texas Secretary of State’s Office a request to change its name to the San Benito Chamber of Commerce. This was possible because the ABOA operated under a different employee identification number, according to Crane.
“There was an additional $25 fee we paid, and before I did that, I checked with the IRS … to be sure we’d still be covered under our 501(c)(6) status,” Crane said. “All I had to do was send in a request with our EIN (employer identification number) to the Secretary of State.”
The Chamber is now spearheaded by ABOA’s Board of Directors, of which Betancourt serves as president; Shirley Vega as vice president, Crane as secretary and Cecilia Espinosa as treasurer.
Betancourt and Crane indicated that the Chamber will be funded through membership dues and will operate independent from the City of San Benito.
Mayor Celeste Sanchez expressed optimism about the Chamber’s revitalization on Monday.
Sanchez said, “We had a good conversation with the Area Business Owners Association, and they chose to take on the name of the Chamber. And I’m really happy because it brings back credibility to the city, and it helps us in attracting businesses. To be able to have a Chamber of Commerce, and to be able to support area businesses, is a big boost for San Benito.”
“We’re trying to get involved and trying to get people involved in the community,” Crane noted. “We’re also trying to find a place to situate a Chamber office, and that’s what we’re working on right now.”