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The 2016 annual meeting for the Plano Chamber of Commerce was held at Plano Centre, presented by Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano. This year, over 350 community members joined in the celebration of the Chamber’s “70 Years of Excellence!”

The history of the chamber was the hottest topic of the hour with the recognition of past, current and new board members; impressive stats about Plano; awards; a 2015 year-in-review; “passing of the gavel”; and fun facts being a close second.

Community stats and growth

Al Valente, 2015 Board Chair, commenced the meeting. Next, President and CEO of the Plano Chamber, Jamee Jolly, went over the definition of “community” and reminded every one that our city is defined by excellence. Jolly exposed Plano as “the best of” many awesome statistics, including:

  • Best city to find a job
  • Best city to raise a family
  • Third best city for women in technology
  • #1 most affordable place to live in the U.S.
  • Gold medal winner for Plano Parks and Recreation via the National Recreation and Park Association

She goes on to discuss diversity within Plano, and said, “Smart and innovative are two terms that are synonymous with Plano.” Three points prove this to be true. One, the high percentage of bachelor’s degrees achieved by Plano’s graduates—54% compared to the state average of 27%. Two, CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching honored four national winners with the title “2015 U.S. Professor of the Year.” Amina Khalifa El-Ashmawy, Professor of Chemistry at Collin College, was one of those selected. Three, Legacy West is the new central business district of DFW—sorry, Dallas. The 255-acre Legacy West will support many corporate headquarters such as Toyota North America, Liberty Mutual, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and FedEx, and will be a live-work-play counterpart to The Shops at Legacy.

“Eighty new folks move to our county each and every day making it one of the fastest growing counties in Texas and the nation,” said Jolly. “It’s a great time to start a business.”

Decades of history, Plano Chamber

A video of a walk down memory lane played while attendees smiled at accomplishments and recognizable faces and laughed at past hair-dos (or don’ts).

  • In 1946, the Plano Chamber of Commerce was founded.
  • The 1960s welcomed the first African-American member.
  • In 1972, the Women’s Division was formed.
  • In 2010, the first woman became in charge (Jamee Jolly.)
  • Finally, in 2016, the Plano Chamber celebrates 70 years.

A lot has changed over the years, but one thing that has never changed is Plano Chamber’s commitment to serve its members.

Jolly thanked and awarded organizations who have served 10–35 years as members. The two longest-term members are Plano Sports Authority and Collin Creek Mall.

Ambassador Membership Development Awards

Al Valente gave the 2015 ambassador membership development awards and the ambassador of the year awards. According to Valente, members who “best embody the Chamber’s spirit” were presented with the awards.

  • 2015 Ambassador Chair: Joe Camarena, Keller Williams Realty
  • 2015 Ambassador Top Sales Award: J.B. Owen, Plano Star Courier
  • 2015 Ambassador Goodwill & Spirit: Kevin Giles, Employee Money Solutions, LLC
  • 2015 Ambassador of the Year: Tywon Thompson, USANA Health Sciences

The Plano Chamber, itself, also had something to celebrate—five stars from the United States Chamber of Commerce Accreditation.

Year-in-review

The launch of three strategic goals were made in 2015 with Al Valente as the leader. One, membership and community. Two, communications and collaboration. Three, operation.

All were accomplished thanks to, but not limited to, the following:

  • Four resolutions were issued in regard to fairness in the workplace.
  • Over 100 events with more than 10,000 attendees
  • Plano Chamber has a total of 1,100 members and more than 300 joined in 2015.
  • Membership retention rate is 78%, with four out of five being businesses

“Sixty-two percent of Plano Chamber’s members are small businesses, showing that small businesses are a value to Plano,” said Valente.

New announcement

Jamee Jolly announced that a big move is in store for the Plano Chamber, one that has been in the works for years. The move will be from the current Downtown Plano location to 5400 Independence Pkwy. at the corner of Independence and Spring Creek Pkwy. The Chamber’s new home will be a  larger, modern building with more parking available. A meeting and drop-in office space provided by Legacy Texas will be offered to all Plano Chamber members. More details to come, including info about the future ribbon cutting.

Passing of the gavel

A traditional ceremony took place of the Plano Chamber Board Chair passing on the reigns to a successor. Al Valente introduced 2016 Board Chair Kim Moore who said, “I want to continue the great job leaders have done in the past, and in addition, accomplish my own goals for the year.” Moore has three goals in mind. One, move to the new building. Two, programming. She would like a conversation with every single member, because, she said, the voice of members is most important. Three, implement something new and different. “I’m a critical thinker and I need [the members’] creative genius.” Some ideas she’s come up with thus far include, a young entrepreneurs group and ‘Plano is Talking About…,’ where discussions are held about hard topics such as race and transgender. “We want an idea that is uniquely Plano.”

Fun facts

The annual meeting ended with fun facts about Plano and the Plano Chamber:

  • Plano is home to six fortune 1,000 companies including JCPenney, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Alliance Data Systems, Rent-A-Center, Cinemark Holdings and Denbury Resources.
  • The Citizen of the Year award used to be known as the Man of the Year award until 1960.
  • A game of Plano, that resembled Monopoly and Life, was created in 1984.
  • The first ever Plano Balloon Festival was held in 1980 and now brings over 100,000 attendees to the event.

Wow, this year looks like it’s going to be a progressive one for both the city and the Chamber. Thanks for the fun look back at our history, Plano Chamber. And congratulations to all the new 2016 Plano Chamber executive committee members and chairs!

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Colbea Smith

Colbea Smith is a young professional who grew up in Plano and loves the community she will always consider “home”. She is a proud alumna of Texas State University – Go Bobcats! – who spent most...