Chamber of Commerce reignited

Staff Writer

“This Chamber got started with a lot of design for hope,” said Lionel Betancourt, President of San Benito’s newly-formed Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber had been defunct for several years. According to individuals formerly associated with the entity, the dissolution was a result of declining membership and dwindling participation. Many, however, believe its disbandment had more to do with monies owed to the Internal Revenue Service.

At the organization’s first official board meeting on Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Celeste Sanchez said, “The City needs a strong Chamber. A strong Chamber defines the community, and I’m proud to support (it) in any way I can, that is within my authority.”

Sanchez added, “I’m very proud of the group that took on the challenge” of establishing a new Chamber.

At this time, the board’s officers and members are as follows: Officers – President Betancourt; Vice President Shirley Vega; Secretary Toni Crane; Treasurer Cecilia Espinosa. Members – Sandee Alvarez, David Cook, Rodney Herring, Chris Garza, Enriqueta Ramos, Wayne Powell and Sarah Garza. At least one other individual has been invited to join the board but has not yet confirmed their position as of press time Friday.

At this time, the Chamber is without a storefront. “The City needs a public relations office,” Betancourt said.

Among board members, there is talk of utilizing the Narciso Martinez Cultural Arts Center as a location for meetings, at least temporarily while the group finalizes its initial planning stages. In fact, the Chamber’s first formal meeting is slated for 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 26, at the NMCAC, located at 225 E. Stenger Street.

“The public can always come to meetings anytime they would like,” Betancourt added.

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