MISSION - Whether it’s their newfound social media presence or their revamped Buenas Tardes Luncheons--The Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce has certainly gotten a face-lift in the past months, and people are beginning to notice.
The man responsible for that is Robert Rosell, the new CEO and President of the GMCC. The Waco-native and UT-Pan American alum assumed the position in late April of 2017. Since then, the 32-year-old has already managed to change the image of the chamber.
Before Rosell, the GMCC has had four presidents in a span of five years, which is an above-average turnover rate for a chamber of commerce. But Rosell said he’s “here for the long haul,” and by the looks of it, he’s off to a pretty good start.
‘THE TOOLS TO SUCCEED’
Before joining the GMCC, Rosell was a Corporate Compliance Officer with BBVA Compass. Part of his duties there was helping small businesses with financial literacy, which is what inspired him to get involved with the chamber in the first place.
Rosell sees the value in an educated business community. Because of that, one of his first orders of business was that the chamber provide free business courses to all members. Such courses hadn’t been offered by the chamber in over two years.
“Our main purpose here is to have a foundation for our members so that they feel that they have help when they need it and the tools to succeed,” he said. “The more businesses we can help, the better it is for the Mission community.”
The chamber offers free courses to members on social media, human resources--and most critically--financial literacy. What makes these programs possible is the partnerships they’ve been able to establish with outside entities.
Rosell contacted the UTRGV Small Business Development Center to offer courses and BBVA Compass Bank offered a seven part series of free business development courses in a three month span. Chamber members completing six of the seven courses received a free small business bank account for a year.
The courses are meant to benefit smaller members in the chamber above all, Rosell said. Though their larger partners contribute and benefit from the chamber in different ways, they’re able to enrich the experience of their smaller businesses by offering programs that their corporate members may not necessarily need.
“As a Chamber of Commerce, you walk a fine line, most of our members are small business but most of our bigger supporters are our corporate members,” Rosell said. “But what I really want is to have a good balance as far as staying involved with our small businesses while making sure that our corporate partners are still content.”
Besides offering courses, members also benefit from services that are provided by partnerships within the chamber itself, such as a headshot session with a photographer who is a member of the chamber.
In previous years, the GMCC was known for hosting quarterly luncheons featuring keynote speakers, which serve as a perfect opportunity for networking.
In September, Rosell organized the first “Buenas Tardes” Luncheon in over a year. The keynote speaker was Javier Palomarez, CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and UTPA alum, who gave a talk on the importance of Hispanic business in the United States.
In fulfilling that promise, current Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos addressed the luncheon. Friday March 9, members will hear from Alberto Altamirano, Co-Founder and CEO at CityFlag, Inc., a Mission native recognized by Forbes for his contributions to technology.
Rosell said he’s working on bringing in even more outside speakers, which will be announced on a rolling basis.
‘A GENERATIONAL CHANGE’
Though, it is not just the GMCC that is working to bring innovation to the City of Mission. The Mission Economic Development Corporation works to bring investors into the city and lately, they have had their eyes on tech.
Trung Nguyen, plant manager for Royal Technology’s facility in Mission and chair-elect for the GMCC, said his company first opened in Mission five years ago so they could be closer to their largest buyer in Reynosa. Though, what ultimately kept them here was the people of Mission.
Both the Mission EDC and GMCC know that technology is going to drive the way business is conducted.
“There’s a generational shift,” Nguyen said. “Millennials are coming in and they want things differently, and the EDC and the chamber are preparing the community for a generational change.”
At the start of the school year, Mission EDC helped initiate a computer science education program at Mission CISD schools. In December the chamber gave their GoMission app, which helps members connect with potential business an overhaul.
Chief Executive Officer for the Mission EDC Alex Meade thinks supporting small businesses and nurturing the talent locally will bring larger corporations to Mission. If the leaders of Mission are not willing to invest on themselves, then why should a large corporation invest on Mission.
Like Rosell, Meade thinks the way to achieve such a goal is through education.
“We’re excited to have Robert as the CEO of the Chamber, he brings a lot of energy to his role, which aligns well with the things we do at the EDC,” Meade said. “Years ago we decided to start investing in building up our talent and support in small businesses. So, we’ve been doing that through educating folks in technology.”
But when an institution is doing great things, they also need a way to make sure community knows. Nowadays, that’s done almost exclusively on social media and the GMCC social media accounts have been quite active lately.
“I get told at least once a week that we’ve been a lot more active on social media,” Rosell said. “If you’re not on social media in a lot of ways people don’t think you’re doing anything.”
Though, what ultimately drives a chamber of commerce is their members. Now, the GMCC has about 300. Rosell would like to see that number go up, and feels that adding value to the membership is the best way to do it.
Rosell said members need to feel like they are getting their money's worth. Which is why he offers courses, services and networking opportunities. At the chamber they are creating value for the membership. He thinks if they continue to do so, there will be a spike in members.
Ultimately, what businesses in Mission have is a support system that focused on technology and media driven by educational endeavors.
“If you want to be a little more on the innovative side, this is the business community for you,” he said.