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Chamber moves to new site

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

Photo by Carolyn B. Edwards
Leslie Lester, executive administrator, is the friendly face that greets members and visitors to the Bandera County Chamber of Commerce offices.

If you've been looking for the Bandera County Chamber of Commerce, wondering where it disappeared to, wonder no more. The Chamber is now occupying more spacious quarters at 157 Highway 16 South next to Gay Guilott Realty.
"We have so much more parking here, more space in the office and we're handicapped accessible," said Chamber Executive Administrator Leslie Lester.
The Chamber made the move in May and Lester has been enjoying having more room for office equipment and files in a bright, clean and efficient work space.
Members and visitors take advantage of comfy leather couches to settle into as they check out the visitor information brochures and plan out their visit to the Cowboy Capital.
"We even have a conference room," said Lester, "so our board can meet right here if they want."
The Chamber exists to help its members. It does that by providing a listing on the Chamber's website, providing free e-mail blast, and giving referrals.
The listing contains plenty of contact information, including links to the business's own website. Many of the inquiries Lester deals with daily are for recommendations for services such as real estate agents, plumbers, electricians and builders.
"We have about 300 members," said Lester. "We want to be a center for businesses to come to for help, for letting people know about their business."
Lester has just returned from a conference for chambers of commerce and is looking forward to sharing some ideas with the board. "We do mixers when we get someone to volunteer to host, but we would like to have some Lunch and Learn type sessions, too," she said.
To celebrate the new location of the offices, the Chamber is planning an open house at the new site. Stay tuned for more information in the near future.
The Chamber also organizes ribbon cuttings for new business members and sponsors two of Bandera's ubiquitous parades - Memorial Day and Cowboy Christmas.
In addition to member dues, operational expenses come from the Chamber's major annual fundraiser, the Hunters Barbecue and Outdoor Extravaganza, held at Mansfield Park the Friday before the fall opening of whitetail deer season.
The Chamber has six levels of membership, including slots for nonprofit organizations and individuals. Dues range from $25 for an individual/family membership to a $500 Level III membership. "We have a lot of individual memberships from people who like to get our emails and keep up with what's going on," Lester said.
She encourages individuals and businesses to support the Chamber by joining up and getting involved. She also wants members to take better advantage of the services the Chamber offers.
Depending upon the level of membership, members may have access to the Chamber's mail list to make contacts, may place business cards and brochures in the Chamber office, use the Chamber's e-mail blast feature to send out news of sales, accomplishments, moves and more up to four times per year, as well as other useful benefits.
Unfortunately, many members fail to take advantage of the Chamber's offerings. "A lot of our members forget to use us," said Lester. "And we want them to take advantage of all the benefits of membership."
The current board of directors include President Richard Berry, Broken Spoke Catering; Vice President Mark Ridosh, Fat Boyz Sandwich Shop; Treasurer Kelly Smith, Hill Country Embroidery; Secretary Jane Pratt; Directors Eric Lawlis, NAPA Auto Supply; Jaki Perkins, Texas Hill Country Bank; Belita Presler, The Junction; Marla Hueske, Camino Real Insurance; Natalie Barnard, Bandera Guest House A Place to Stay Reservations; and Philip Acton, Band-Aire.
The board meets the third Monday of each month.
Call 830-796-3228 for more information about membership in the Bandera County Chamber of Commerce.