After a busy and largely successful 2017, the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce is set for an even bigger 2018.
The past year saw the chamber host 20 events (at least one every month) and included highlights like Monster Trucks performing and a pair of “indoor yard sales.” The arena at the chamber’s fairgrounds received major improvements, including new bleacher benches (donated by the Durham Co.), vastly upgraded lighting and a new press box.
“It was exhausting,” said chamber executive director Angie Quinlan. “But to sum the year up, it was very successful and we accomplished a lot. And I think the community is starting to work together and there was more community involvement.”
The success of chamber-hosted events like the Monster Trucks shows hasn’t gone unnoticed, Quinlan said.
“We’re bringing more people to town and it’s making a difference.” she said. “For example, the Monday after the Monster Trucks, I had people from several restaurants call me and tell me their sales were up that weekend. And that’s what we’re trying to do; the chamber’s not trying to make money, we’re trying to bring people into town who will spend their money and benefit local businesses.”
The chamber will host several big events in 2018, including one on the Saturday night of the Old Settlers Reunion (set for July 26-28, in conjunction with the Texas County Fair), which Quinlan said isn’t finalized just yet. The Settlers Reunion figures to feature a lawnmower race on Thursday night and a pony pull Friday night.
Another big event, Quinlan said, could be either a motocross or “mud run” competition in June.
Plans are in place for more improvements at the arena, including upgrading the restrooms and making them handicapped-accessible during the coming year, and adding a new sound system and more bleachers at the east end at some point in the future.
“It’s all going to be good for the community,” Quinlan said. “I’m excited and ready to go.”
Quinlan said the chamber’s 10-member board of directors is making a positive difference.
“Both the younger members and past members are great,” she said. “We have a lot of fresh ideas and they’re really gung-ho about doing things. That’s what you need.”
Quinlan began her stint as chamber director in August 2016.
“I have a lot of big visions for this job,” she said, “but I don’t know if I’ll live long enough to see them all through.”
The Houston chamber closed out 2017 with 125 members after finishing 2016 with 95. Cost for membership is $40 for individuals (you don’t have to be a business to join), $75 for non-profit organizations and $100 for a business. There are also two levels of corporate membership: $500 and $1,000.
The chamber’s 2018 schedule kicks Feb. 1 and 2 with weigh-ins for the inaugural “weight loss challenge,” which will run through April. Then the first of two planned indoor yard sales is set for Saturday, Feb. 3 (in the community building at the chamber fairgrounds). The annual chamber banquet is set for March 3, and this year’s theme is “Saturday Night Fever/Disco.”
“I’d like to thank everyone for their support, and I appreciate that more than anything else,” Quinlan said. “I feel like we’ve been listening to the people and that we’re trying to incorporate their ideas.
For information about membership, events or any other chamber-oriented subject, call Quinlan at 417-967-2220 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Houston chamber can also be found on Facebook, and Quinlan said she plans to start doing a live post every Friday.
“I want people to know my door is always open,” she said, “or they can call me if they have questions or want to share an idea. I’m open to ideas – I mean, throw them at me and we’ll do it if we can.
“No idea is too crazy.”
•President: Bruce Scheets (Bruce Scheets Auctions)
•First vice-president: Kim Stipanovich (Paws N Claws)
•Second vice-president: Justin Brown (Evans Funeral Home)
•Secretary: Lori Moncrief (Mitchell Insurance)
•Treasurer: Susan Stigall (Houston First Baptist Church)
•Members: Bobby Dixon (Durham Co.), Dana Lewis (Rees Propane), Tanya Pacheco (Rocket Digital), Richard Steckler (Edward Jones), Russ Stigall (Houston First Baptist Church).
“I’m open to ideas – I mean, throw them at me and we’ll do it if we can. No idea is too crazy.”
HOUSTON AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ANGIE QUINLAN
•Feb. 1 and 2: Weight Loss Challenge weigh-in
•Feb. 3: Indoor Yard Sale
•March 3: Annual Banquet (theme is Saturday Night Fever/disco)
•April: Spring Bazaar/Food Truck Festival (date TBA)
•May 5: Indoor Yard Sale
•June: Open (plans being considered)
•July 26 – 28: Old Settlers Reunion
•Aug. 25: Demolition Derby
•September: Open (plans being considered)
•Oct. 13: Truck Pull
•Nov. 10: Holiday Bazaar
•Dec. 7: Tree Lighting
•Dec. 8: Christmas Parade (theme TBA)
*Events and dates subject to change