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Alamo City Chamber response to Bexar County




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



Alamo City Music Hall on East Side Closes




A local East Side favorite is closing after nearly a decade of hosting live music to make way for a new technology and research center.

Sylvia Fernandez, owner of Alamo City Music Hall at E. Houston and N. Cherry streets, posted on the venue’s Facebook page that:

“It is with a heavy heart and profound sadness that I must say goodbye to Alamo City Music Hall. Pete (her late husband) and I opened this venue in March of 2010 wanting to bring the live music scene to a new level. Through hard work, dedication and help from all of the fans, promoters and long time staff who have all been with us since the inception, we were able to make Backstage Live /Alamo City Music Hall known as THE live music venue in San Antonio,”

Texas Research and Technology Foundation purchased the Merchant’s Ice complex, a former industrial site, about two years ago, and soon became the landlord for the music venue. The city of San Antonio recently approved an incentive package for the foundation to begin a massive redevelopment of the Merchant’s Ice complex to include business startups, a research component, a hotel, and more.

“All of us at Alamo City Music Hall can’t thank the community enough for your support over the years and to the bands and promoters, we are eternally grateful you chose our venue.,” Fernandez said. We will carry the memories with us forever. I will have updated information regarding a new venture for concerts in the near future.

To read more about the redevelopment, go here.

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Ready to Build or Buy a House?




By Lisa Harrison Rivas

So, you have a pre-approval letter from your lender and you’re ready to go house hunting.

Now, you must decide if you want to buy an existing home or have a house built.  If you choose to build, will it be a tract home from one of the well-known builders or will you choose a custom home?

A custom home is built to the specifications of the buyer, while tract homes feature similar styles and floor plans. Tract homes are what you see in most subdivisions.

As a Realtor, I can help guide you through the process for buying any of these types of homes.

But if you are considering a custom home, you’ll need land and design plans. Your lender can provide information about home construction loans.

The San Antonio area has numerous custom home builders including Abraham Solis, chief of operations for Future Tech Custom Homes. Solis says his firm can offer construction loans at 4 percent interest and provide help with design plans.

“We have three designers that you can work with each with different price ranges from low to high,” he said. Future Tech Custom Homes start at $250,000.

Solis now runs the business that began with his father’s framing business 30 years ago. He and I recently talked about some basics of custom home building.

Q: What surprises people most about the process?

A: I think for us it was the timing. People were surprised at how fast we were.  And surprised with how we work with them and how everybody treated them.

Q: How long does it take?

A: For a big home, a million-dollar home, it generally takes about eight months.

Q: How does the process work?

A: I have a little system before we even start. When we get the initial commitment contract signed, they put down a deposit and from there, I give them a checklist. They have to go and get all the materials for the flooring, everything, you name it. So, before we even begin anything, they already start doing that checklist. So right before I break ground, on day one, I’m already ordering floors, countertops things like that.

Q: Do you help clients order the materials?

A: We have vendors that we have been working with, so we can send them to our vendors. If they have vendors, that’s fine too.

Q: Where do you build?

A: We mainly build in the north area. We’ll go as far as Austin.

Q: How would you describe Future Tech Custom Homes’ style?

A: It’s Hill Country meets modern contemporary. You still have your metal roofs, the colors outside are the light beiges and on the inside, it has a Spanish feel.

Q:  Why is Tech part of the name?

A: The smart homes. There’s a crew that we work with, they fully automated one of our homes. Apple watches can be used to turn on lights and appliances.  People really like that.

Q:  How much would that technology cost?

A: A good setup would cost about $10,000 or $15,000 for a fully-automated home.

Q: Do most people want one or two stories?

A: One story. People just don’t like to go up the stairs. Another thing that I also heard is that they like to do away with dining rooms as well. They want a nook, that’s it.  An open floor plan and a little nook on the side.

Q: Any unusual requests?

A: One couple had a foyer with a dome ceiling and the woman wanted gold flakes up there. They ended up going with this copper type paint.  It shined, it looked beautiful.

Q: Why would someone have a custom home built?

A:  I’ll say it the way my dad would say it. In a custom home, you get what you want. Everything is pretty much beefed up on a custom home. You’ll get your bang for your buck.

Lisa Harrison Rivas is a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Don Johnson Realtors. 
If you are planning to buy or sell, feel free to contact her at 210-380-9006 or

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IKEA Opens in San Antonio Feb. 13




IKEA opens in Live Oak on Feb. 13 at 9 am, but customers can start lining up at 5 am.

Visitors will be greeted with family-friendly events, special offers and a chance to win thousands of dollars in gift cards—including three gift cards valued at $500, $1,500 and $2,000.

Throughout the entire day, visitors who join the IKEA FAMILY loyalty program or scan their IKEA FAMILY card in-store at an IKEA FAMILY kiosk, will also be automatically entered for a chance to win one of 20 $250 IKEA gift cards. Two winners will be randomly drawn and announced every hour from 10:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. on opening day.

“We are thrilled to be opening our 49th store in the U.S. and fifth store in the state of Texas,” said Diedre Goodchild, store manager. “We have received such a warm welcome from the San Antonio-area and want to return the favor by welcoming our shoppers with food, fun and iconic IKEA products.”

Entertainment for customers waiting in line will start at 6 a.m., followed by the grand opening ceremony at 8:15 a.m. Doors will officially open at 9 a.m. Customers can learn more about the grand opening plans and promotions at or by joining the free IKEA FAMILY loyalty program.

Since its 1943 founding in Sweden, IKEA has offered home furnishings of good design and function at affordable prices. During the past year, 160,000 co-workers welcomed 838 million visits to IKEA stores and more than 2.35 billion visits to

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