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Pictured above, Mario Lizcano, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Administrator of Corporate Affairs, is the new Chairman volunteer for the Pharr Chamber of Commerce. Next to him Rebecca Arizmendi, President of the new chamber of commerce. Pictured in the executive conference of the Pharr Economic Development Corporation headquarters. Photo by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez.
Pictured above, Mario Lizcano, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Administrator of Corporate Affairs, is the new Chairman volunteer for the Pharr Chamber of Commerce. Next to him Rebecca Arizmendi, President of the new Chamber of Commerce. Pictured in the executive conference of the Pharr Economic Development Corporation headquarters. Photo by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez.

Business people will once again have an opportunity to mingle in a friendly business atmosphere  

By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

As originally published by Texas Border Business newsprint edition October 2017

City of Pharr officials reopened the Greater Pharr Chamber of Commerce. They intend to serve business communities in the City of Pharr and beyond. The new entity is legally formed and in the initial stages of getting up and running. It already has a chairman, an ambassador program, and a President. Currently, they are in the process of selecting a board that will consist of approximately seven members.

Rebecca Isabel Arizmendi is the new president and chief executive officer. A Valley native, she started in her new position in July of 2017.

Arizmendi has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Houston and a master’s degree from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) in public administration. Recently, she moved back from Houston where she lived for three years. Once in the Valley, she worked for the city of Brownsville as an innovation and resources analyst.

“I worked from the Humans Resources department office, but I worked primarily with different departments to figure out where could we be innovative and change different policies, procedures, methodology and things like that,” she told Texas Border Business. After, she worked with Congressman Vicente Gonzalez in a temporary position when she heard about the president’s position.  “I immediately took an interest, so I applied and now I’m here,” she said.

Pharr had a Chamber before, which closed February 1, 2013, but none of that is important now, the fact that the city is getting back into the chamber business is one among many positive things happening in Pharr.

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When a city supports a chamber, it automatically partners with the local business community. Through this effort, the Chamber’s goal is to help small businesses in a local area in many ways with activities that range from hosting events to charitable works for the betterment of the community.

Arizmendi comes to Pharr during one of the most progressive periods of the City. The municipal administration enhanced with a new mayor and the unity of commissioners working together is writing a new chapter in the city’s present and future.

Arizmendi is armed with knowledge, energy and the desire to embark on a new venture that promises to make stronger the business community as well as to attract more new businesses to the city.

The Pharr Chamber office is currently in the Pharr Economic Development Corp. headquarters; this is only until a 4,971-sq.-ft. building for the Chamber is ready to be occupied. Arizmendi said that they are going to move to the old Grid Iron Burgers location on 301 S. Cage Blvd. “We already have the designs. It’s just a matter of getting bids to get contractors out there,” Arizmendi stated.

The Pharr business community is ready for a chamber of commerce, this based on the number of phone calls received by Arizmendi. “That gets me excited, of course, because it leads me to believe that businesses are wanting the chamber to be here in Pharr.”

Also, she says that she is ready to be the advocate for them, to provide numerous resources and to do whatever the business needs to thrive. You can feel the energy just by being around Arizmendi. She talks about activities that the chamber will offer to its members, business networking is on top of the list, also, breakfast meetings and golf tournaments to mention a few. She said that the events to consider should always aim to serve and to enhance the business community environment.

She said, “Winter Texans, high school students, learning workshops and projects that promote a better quality of life and economic development.”

Arizmendi considerers herself lucky, because when she got here the ambassador program for the chamber was already in place. She said, “I have ambassadors from different industries giving me their expertise in retail, hospitality and banking.” She is using all of that to develop her goals as a president. “I’m using those as my resources,” Arizmendi says that the most significant strength that the City of Pharr has right now is that it has the tremendous and rapid growth.

Currently, the City of Pharr is approximately 77,000 in population, has a strategic location, it has a friendly and aggressive city government. It has attracted multiple national stores; most recently, Topgolf, a Global sports entertainment leader. Topgolf corporate office told Texas Border Business that they estimate to serve 300, 000 visitors in its first year of operation. Most of their guests described themselves as “non-golfers.”

The list of new businesses that have opened in Pharr is a long one, and substantially changed the face of the city. A strong local economy, and an international bridge that is an example of trade with Mexico, puts Pharr as a leader in the region.

Now, with the start of a Chamber of Commerce that caters exclusively to businesses, it will be another success. Comments regarding the birth of the chamber are that the “missing puzzle’ is here.

Arizmendi knows and understands the challenge in front of her; she said, “I am ready to do it, and not waiting.” She continued, “I have researched to find out how many business fronts do we have, as well as visited with venues where I believe we should celebrate events to bring the business community together.” She feels it is important that the Chamber of Commerce works together with city government’s vision. More than anything, to complement the efforts of every department of the city as the chamber solidifies in the community.

Arizmendi is not married, and she says, “I’m waiting for Kris to actually pass the bar exam. So hopefully in November. I don’t even care about getting married right now. Pass the bar!” she said. Kris Hinojosa is 35 years of age and working hard towards a successful life as an attorney.

Sometimes, when you have the opportunity to meet people, you do not know much of their qualities or talents. Arizmendi is a young and intelligent professional with the ability to talk to people and do well because she is genuine. One of her talents is singing. Texas Border Business already witnessed when she was asked to sing the national anthem. She reached the highest notes, sending a refreshing feeling of patriotism among the guests. “My biggest accomplishment probably was when I sang the national anthem for the Dallas Cowboys game in 1999. She said, “I was 13 years old.” Maybe, one day, TBB readers will have an opportunity to see her perform during a ribbon cutting ceremony in Pharr, she is unique.

Arizmendi loves her two dogs, Cash, an Australian Shepherd, and Bailey, a little Chihuahua. She is also working on a project that will bring together the largest crowd of dog lovers of the Rio Grande Valley to the City of Pharr.

Mario Lizcano, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Administrator of Corporate Affairs, is the new Chairman volunteer for the Pharr Chamber of Commerce.  He said, “To me, the biggest thing we have going for our chamber is that we have such a progressive Mayor. He recognizes the value of local businesses networking together.”

Arizmendi is also planning on bringing together all the presidents of chambers of commerce in the Rio Grande Valley. She is already talking to Sergio Contreras, the president and CEO of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership to coordinate the effort. She envisions a president’s consortium for chambers.

She thinks that getting together with colleagues to discuss issues, concerns, and ideas is important to bring this region closer.

In the meantime, Arizmendi plans to run the chamber with at least three staff members. A membership director, with public relations experience, a media representative, and an administrative assistant.

According to Arizmendi, all of this is in the planning stages; nothing is set for now.

So, get ready, Pharr will soon debut a new Greater Pharr Chamber of Commerce; stay tuned.

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