June News Update from David Jerome, President & CEO of the El Paso Chamber
The El Paso summer is unfolding quite quickly and while I am not super excited about these temperatures, I am grateful for the diligent work of El Paso Electric for keeping our grid up and running and our homes and businesses cool! El Paso is starting to come out of the pandemic in strong form. Vaccination rates are at 70% and climbing; a testament to the efforts of the City and County of El Paso. We’ve seen direct flights out of the El Paso International Airport increase; another strong sign that El Pasoans are traveling for business and summer vacation. And economic growth predictions are solid for the coming months. I am cautiously optimistic, but these are great signs of a positive summer.
I am especially excited about our biggest news this summer; the office is open and fully staffed! We began opening the doors, in earnest on June 1st, and just celebrated our first event in our new, Lyceum meeting space on June 11th, with a Texas Legislative Session recap featuring Speaker Pro Tem Joe Moody and Representative Mary González, PhD. It was so good to see a number of members in attendance and we hope that as the vaccination rates continue to rise, more of you will join us at Chamber events in the building and in the downtown area. We have a briefing of the Moody/González recap later in the newsletter, but their view from the session was optimistic for business related issues. I want to take this opportunity to thank the Speaker Pro Tem for his leadership in the House and for his role in leading the delegation; their combined efforts are unified for the betterment of El Paso and I am grateful for them.
I had briefed you all previously about our new partnership with the Youngstown Business Incubator; the kick off event and press conference were a huge success. Chair of the Board Arlene Carroll traveled to meet our partners in Ohio along with Dr. Ahsan Choudhuri, Director of UTEP’s Center for Space Exploration and Technology Research (CSETR). The visit culminated with a signed agreement for cooperative research efforts and lays an important stepping stone for enhancing advanced manufacturing in both communities, with the goal of building an infrastructure for aerospace innovation and advanced manufacturing.
Nothing beats the El Paso heat like an evening event with good friends and great conversation. To that end I want to invite you to our PRIDE forum event, next Thursday evening at the Mirador Lounge at the Paso del Norte Hotel. In honor of PRIDE Month we’ll be leading a discussion on inclusion in today’s workforce, the forum will feature a number of business and social leaders from the LGBTQIA+ community in El Paso. The Chamber is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion as part of our connecting, coaching, and advocating platforms. Our speakers on Thursday bring to the table a wealth of experience leading businesses and governmental entities and have been pioneers for LGBTQIA+ communities across the region and across the country. I am pleased to host them and look forward to a great conversation; I hope you will join us in learning how local LGBTQIA+ leaders and allies in our community are promoting an inclusive work environment.
And finally, as you know, I am committed to the educational opportunities afforded to our young, upcoming leaders. In my role as President and CEO of the Chamber, I believe firmly in experiential learning and internships. This summer the EPC has taken on three college interns, including two returning interns. I am pleased to welcome Anika Grendell, rising sophomore and Public Relations major at the University of Texas at Austin to the Chamber, and I am happy that Emily Jo Smith, rising sophomore and Psychology major at Texas Christian University, and Antonios E. Patsatzis, Finance major at Southern Methodist University, are joining us again this term. Anika is working with the communications team on messaging and brand marketing, Emily is working with the government affairs team on agenda advocacy, and Tony is working with the innovation team. All three interns have added a great new dimension to the summer and I look forward to chatting with them on business and Chamber matters and I encourage you to introduce yourself to them at EPC events during the summer.