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The Chamber by the Numbers

by Jim Mikula, President/CEO

The Leadership Gillespie County class held its monthly meeting this week with a focus on Tourism and

Hospitality. Brady Closson, President/CEO Fredericksburg Convention and Visitor Bureau, and I were asked to make presentations about our respective organizations’ roles in Tourism and Hospitality. Preparing the Chamber’s presentation, I put together a list of facts about the Chamber and the list, frankly, surprised me. Our little chamber is a busy organization.

So far this year we have nearly 80 new members, and we now have well over 800 members. Digging into it, one interesting fact is that over 60% of the new members are in non-tourism businesses. Moreover, over 30% joined at upper tier membership levels. Not surprisingly, over 50% are based in Fredericksburg with 11% in Gillespie County. It is also noteworthy that the number of non-profit members is now over 100.

With a staff of six, 13 members on the board and close to 30 Ambassadors, the Chamber holds 28 events each year and has three ongoing programs. We also have six active committees working on various issues that affect our economy and the lifestyle we all enjoy in Fredericksburg. The Chambers holds 10 Lunch & Learn sessions, and we have hosted 2 this year so far. The first was focused on emergency preparedness and the second on strategic/tactics of human resources. We average 12 attendees for these events and our annual attendance was 120 last year.

The always popular Fun After 5 happens five times a year. The next FA5 will be on April 18 at El Quincho. We typically average over 100 attendees, which equates to an annual attendance of 500. Members and their crews seem to relish the opportunity to network and learn about other businesses (not to mention catch up on people news).

The Leaders Breakfast is held quarterly. Our first breakfast held a few weeks ago focused on preparing for the Eclipse. The next breakfast will focus on fraud prevention and the online fraud team at Security State Bank & Trust will be making a presentation. This fall, the topics will be Childcare and Mental Health. With 80 attendees each breakfast we host over 300 on an annual basis.

Last month, we held our first business roundtable. For each roundtable, we will invite 7 members for a lunch meeting (thank you Hill + Vine!), and we select a topic to discuss. The first of this series was with City Manager Clinton Bailey, and other attendees were Main Street merchants. This allowed the merchants the chance to ask questions of Clinton and vice versa. The topic for our next roundtable will be Childcare, and we have invited Representative Troxclair to join us. This small event series will result in 28 annual attendees.

We have five annual, larger events. The Awards Banquet held in March each year honors local citizens for their contributions to our community. This year’s banquet had 460 attendees. This May, we will host the Economic Summit, “State of the Burg,” and we hope to exceed last year’s attendance which was over 120. In September, we hold the annual golf tournament with 72 golfers and another 30 members hosting exhibits at various holes. In October, we will host our first Food and Wine Festival. We will start small, and our forecast is 3,000 attendees. We finish the year with the classic Light the Night Christmas Parade. The 2023 event had 26,000 in attendance along Main Street, plus over 1,700 households watching the parade live on TV or live-streamed (thank you CBS Austin!).

When you add up all the numbers, the Chamber produces events that have an annual attendance of nearly 32,000. We expect this number will grow as the Food & Wine Festival expands to a five-day event. We will continue to grow these events for our members and community. This growth will have a positive impact on our economy and continue to support all our members. Thank you, Fredericksburg, and Gillespie County for supporting the Chamber – we are honored to be in your service.

I will finish this week’s column on a solemn note. Our community lost an incredible citizen last week, Steve McAnally. Steve and I met when we served on a non-profit board together, and I remember the warm welcome he gave me, plus his genuine happiness that I joined the board. When I took on my new role at the Chamber, he was one of the first to reach out to offer congratulations, and as usual, he was happy for me. Going forward, I will do my best to be more like Steve!

We at the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce extend our deepest condolences to all members of Steve’s family and especially, Mrs. Randye McAnally. We wish you all a healing blend of grief over the loss of your beloved Steve and a celebration for a life well lived.

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