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Alamo City Chamber response to Bexar County

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DEAR MR. SMITH:

We (The Alamo City Black Chamber of Commerce) received your letter dated July 17, 2018 “suspending” the Agreement. While the Chamber is grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the County, we are disappointed with both the suspension and the manner in which the suspension arose.

As a reminder of how the Agreement materialized:

The Chamber was approached around January of 2018 regarding the results of Bexar County’s UTSA AABE study. The study demonstrated rather clearly that, despite existing programs in the County, African-American Business Enterprises (“AABE”) accounted for merely 3.8% of all firms in the Bexar County- San Antonio Metropolitan Area. The study further identified that these businesses faced barriers to contracting and advancement that could be ameliorated with management assistance and training. Despite the desire and stated commitment to alleviate this problem and prior initiatives regarding the same from numerous parties (and even the County’s own DBE department), the community continued to experience a gap in the availability and capacity of African-American Business Enterprises.

Founded in 1938, the Chamber is the third oldest black chamber of commerce in the United States. The Chamber has a diverse mix of board members and relationships with other, similarly aligned organizations. The Chamber is thus a natural partner for matters affecting the black business community in the Bexar County- San Antonio Metropolitan Area.

After being approached to propose a resolution to the issues identified in the UTSA AABE Study, the Chamber spent months developing a proposal for a program that would train and equip both African American Business Enterprises and other underserved businesses in the County to bid on County contracts and ultimately succeed in becoming contracting partners with the County. The first contract/grant proposal was presented to the County on or about January 4, 2018. Between January 2018 and March 2018, the County’s staff and the Chamber closely collaborated, and the Chamber received feedback on requested adjustments and capacity building that the County sought in order for the Chamber to be a grant recipient.

The full Commissioner’s Court fielded multiple responses from the Chamber and others regarding the proposal, and ultimately voted unanimously in favor of approving the proposed program.

The Chamber and Black Contractor’s Association then made a public presentation and request for approval of the Chamber’s proposal (and the Agreement) to the full Bexar County Commissioner’s Court on March 13, 2018 along with a proposed budget. Program goals and solutions were presented in detail, including proposed partnerships, performance measurement, and the Chamber’s capacity for goal achievement. The Chair of the County’s SWMBE Advisory Committee, Chris Forbrich, and Renee Watson, the County’s SWMBE manager, were in attendance (Ms. Watson made a presentation regarding AABE’s immediately prior to the Chamber’s presentation). Frank Dunn and Margaret Wilson-Anaglia, members of the County’ SWMBE Advisory Committee, were also in attendance. Joe Linson, another member of the SWMBE Advisory Committee, voiced his support for the Chamber’s proposal during the Chamber’s presentation commenting that “this has been vetted.” Commissioner Kevin Wolff asked various questions about the program’s reach and performance metrics, which the Chamber addressed, including multiple clarifications that the reach of the program was not limited to AABEs. Commissioner Tommy Calvert highlighted the program’s ongoing reporting requirements. Commissioner Paul Elizondo commented on the goal of developing local businesses within the Bexar County metro area to help fill the gap in such a manner that programs like the Chamber’s proposal became unnecessary. The full Commissioner’s Court fielded multiple responses from the Chamber and others regarding the proposal, and ultimately voted unanimously in favor of approving the proposed program. Video of the presentation is available on the County’s website.

See more: Full Response at Alamo City Chamber website

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Win up to $15,000 Helping the City Find Solutions in Team Competition

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Developers, engineers, data scientists and civic technologists from the San Antonio community are being asked to collaborate for a team competition to discover solutions for issues encompassing transportation, access to city services and sustainability. 

A three-day competition will be held Oct. 19-21 to determine the final team winners, solutions and prizes. The final seven teams will compete throughout the weekend and present to a SmartSA judging panel for a chance to win up to $15,000 and a potential contract with the SmartSA partners, which include CPS Energy, San Antonio River Authority, San Antonio Water System, VIA Metropolitan Transit and the city of San Antonio.

The competition, which is called “The SmartSA Datathon” is powered by CivTechSA and launched Sept. 14. Team submissions will be due on Friday, Sept. 28, and finalists will be selected on Oct. 5.

The three key requests for data solutions include:

Transportation: As more people move to San Antonio, the need for reliable and affordable transportation options increases. A need exists to find new insights to improve rider experience, affordability and increase ridership.

Access to Services: As part of the SmartSA goal to create an inclusive and connected San Antonio, the existing need is to find overlaps in SmartSA services in order to improve the accessibility and effectiveness of services to residents.

Sustainability: From environmental and conservation efforts, the SmartSA partners have a goal to identify sustainable and resilient strategies to meet the challenges of our rapidly growing San Antonio area population; how to continuously improve the quality of life for residents; and support residents as the City grows and changes.

For more details, visit: https://www.civtech-sa.com/datathon/.

 

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H-E-B Plans for World-Class Tech Facility in Austin

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H-E-B continues its path toward becoming a dominant force in the digital retail space, announcing that it has signed a long-term lease for a building in East Austin, according to its website.

The largest privately-held employer in Texas will develop a world-class tech facility and innovation lab for its growing H-E-B Digital team and Favor, the Austin-based on-demand delivery service that is a wholly-owned subsidiary of H-E-B.

Set for completion in spring 2019, H-E-B will turn the recently renovated industrial warehouse into a creative and collaborative workspace for Austin-based Partners (employees) of the H-E-B Digital team and Favor’s corporate headquarters. H-E-B also has a strong technology and digital presence at its corporate headquarters in San Antonio and will continue to grow its digital team in both cities.

H-E-B enlisted HPI Corporate Services as its tenant broker and has engaged global architecture firm, IA Interior Architects, to fully customize the two-story, 81,000 square-foot facility. Located at 2416 East Sixth Street, the property is walking distance to several amenities such as restaurants, breweries, coffee shops, and the 7th Street H-E-B store.

“This state-of-the-art space will be a hub for creativity and innovation as we continue to develop the ultimate digital experience for our customers,” said Jag Bath, H-E-B Chief Digital Officer and Favor CEO and President. “Bringing H-E-B and Favor closer together will allow us to promote collaboration between our two companies as we strengthen our commitment to building out H-E-B’s omnichannel services.”

With this expanded Austin footprint, H-E-B and Favor plan to add several hundred jobs to the local economy and are actively hiring across all areas of expertise, including product management, product design, and software engineering. Career opportunities can be found on the H-E-B and Favor websites.

This year, H-E-B has made a series of announcements and strategic technology investments to further establish the company as a technology leader in Texas, including the acquisition of Favor, the appointment of Bath as H-E-B’s Chief Digital Officer, and the recent addition of Mike Georgoff as Chief Product Officer for H-E-B Digital. In addition, H-E-B continues to enhance its digital offerings with the expansion of its H-E-B Delivery and H-E-B Curbside service, which is available in more than 145 locations across the Lone Star State and is on track to reach 165 stores in 2018.

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New Venue Serves Drinks, Food and Fundraises for Charities

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Celebrate the official grand opening of The Cherrity Bar, which is a creative new concept supporting nonprofits while eating, drinking, and having a good time on Friday, Sept. 7 from 5 pm to midnight.

A ribbon cutting will be at 6 pm, but the festivities will go all night, including patrons enjoying food from the new Ramen Bar at The Cherrity Bar!

According to The Cherrity Bar’s website, the purpose of the venue is to raise money for nonprofits. Here’s how it works: Three featured charities compete for the bar (not restaurant) profits every month. Patrons receive tokens for food and drink purchases that are used to cast votes for their favorite charity at one of two voting stations. Information about each charity is available on the bar’s website and in the front foyer of the bar for those who are unfamiliar with the charities. September’s featured organizations are Haven to Hope, Habitat for Humanity of San Antonio, and San Antonio Pets Alive!

All of the bar profits are then divided among four charities at the end of each month, said the venue’s website. The Tourette Association of America will receive 10 percent of profit every month because this organization is near and dear to the hearts of owners Pam & David Malley, who have a son with Tourette. The remaining 90 percent of the profit is divided in a 60/30/10 percent split between the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners, based on token votes. To become a featured charity, nonprofits apply online at cherritybar.com.
The seating is family-friendly, offering entertaining games for kids of all ages and a “chill zone” for children with special needs who could use an occasional sensory break from the hustle and bustle of the venue. Live music will be offered most nights and featured charities will host various interactive events throughout the month to spread awareness about their causes.
Parking available in lots across the street (321 and 323 Montana St) and in Lot C at the Alamodome. Go here to see the Facebook invite: https://www.facebook.com/events/759382231079966/
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