Local auction 

Laredo Chamber of Commerce closes before moving and holds auction

The Laredo Chamber of Commerce held an event Friday known as Lights, Camera, Auction! giving residents the opportunity to purchase historic and traditional items in their office as they continue the process of moving into their new locations by the end of the month.

Based at 2310 San Bernardo Avenue since 1974, the Laredo Chamber has stood up for the local business community for more than a century by opening its doors one last time to the general public on Friday.

“We hosted a community event and wanted to make sure the community had the opportunity to take home a piece of Laredo history,” said Gabriela Morales, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Laredo. Laredo. “We had a silent auction and a live auction. We opened the doors to this building in San Bernardo just to get that last photo, that last memory, as you can see the past presidents are really excited to be here and the past board members are really excited about the legacy because they’re talking about how it was back then and what they see in front of us, which is really brilliant because we’re the #1 land party.”

The event included various activities including an open mic session for those wishing to share memories, a photo opportunity for former Speakers of the Laredo House, a live and silent auction, as well as refreshments and appetizers. -mouths.

The new Laredo Chamber of Commerce offices will be located at 5702 McPherson Rd. Suite 8B. They plan to have a soft grand opening on August 1, as a groundbreaking ceremony will then be held later.

The Laredo Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1915 and has represented essential industries for more than 100 years, ranging from financial institutions and retailers to transportation, logistics and service providers. The chamber is considered the county’s oldest business organization.

With nearly 700 members representing all industries in the community, the Laredo Chamber is five-star accredited by the United States Chamber of Commerce. Only 200 rooms out of 7,000 across the country are accredited by this body.


During the silent auction, traditional items belonging to the former office were auctioned off, while during the live auction several legacy items were up for grabs, including a jersey signed by Lakers players , a football signed by an NFL player and other items. . The silent auction featured more historical items like newspapers, memorabilia and other items.

“The proceeds from today’s auction were to fund our new move to our new location on McPherson, but also to help with day-to-day expenses, as we also have full-time staff who work year-round at the Laredo Chamber of Commerce, so these funds will help pay the bills,” said Mike Marasco, Chairman of the Laredo Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

Marasco said the event went well and he enjoyed hearing the various stories and memories many people in the community had about the building which had been in use for nearly half a century.

“Change is always a challenge,” Marasco said. “This will open up new opportunities for our community as a whole and for businesses in Laredo and Webb County. We will have the opportunity to offer new services in our new location in McPherson, and today was a fond memory of some of the highlights that happened here in our San Bernardo location.

Some of the people who bought items at auction were both Cliffe Killam, president and CEO of Killam Development, and Gimelda Ortiz, a mortgage loan officer.

“I’m a bigger supporter of the Laredo chamber,” Killam said. “I believe in their philosophy and their mission to help the people of Laredo, our community and the business community. Companies can serve a public good, so through this they help our community. I just wanted to make sure we had deals there and get involved and make a monetary contribution, and now… I have some great birthday presents for people.

Ortiz says she took one of the paintings depicting a Washington Birthday Celebration Association event being held downtown because she thinks it’s very important to her to make sure she keeps this little piece of story and presents it to his children.

“I had been away from home for so long and I still cry for the things I missed so much,” Ortiz said. “I’m sad that sometimes I missed all these celebrations like Washington’s birthday celebration, and now that I have a young daughter and she’s 3, I want to expose her to all these cultural things that are very important to us and to keeping our community together.

The new location

Representative Henry Cuellar attended Friday’s event and said he was happy to be part of the event, stressing how important the Chamber of Commerce is in helping businesses, not just long-established ones. , but also those who are just starting out.

“They’re moving into the new office on August 1. They have a new boss that I know and she’s doing a great job, and we hope to continue working with them,” Cuellar said. “If we look at the growth of Laredo, Laredo has grown a lot. The unemployment rate is 5%, which is one of the best in the entire border, and that’s part of what the House does when it comes to puts to work with long-standing businesses and with new ones that want to start in Laredo.This contributes to a low unemployment rate in Laredo.

Killam said the closure of the San Bernardo office marked the end of an era but the beginning of another, which could be even more prosperous, as he believes people now have access to chamber programs and tools. on line. Killam also spoke about how the chamber worked with the Laredo Independent School District and was able to secure a resolution for the sale of the property.

“(LISD) is ultimately going to be the buyer, so I guess that makes sense for their plans, and we wanted to be aware of that and work with them as a community partner,” Killam said. “I think the new site also has a more open door concept, so I think the new site will be of great use to us. We don’t know if this will be our forever home, but it will serve that purpose for now and be more accessible to a large number of audiences.

Also, the San Bernardo location now shares parking with LISD, so there was always less parking for people going to the room. The new location will provide better parking for anyone wishing to travel to these offices.

Morales says plans to move the offices to a more central location began about six years ago, before she joined the chamber. And she said the office for the new chamber is in a much more strategic location than where it is now.

“It’s much more centralized and the business community is growing tremendously throughout Laredo,” Morales said. “With this centralized location, businesses in the south and businesses in the north will be able to access it in no time via Loop 20. Also, businesses in the city center will be able to do this because we will have a centralized point, however, we we are still absent. in the community when we provide services, whether it’s inaugurations or innovations – no matter what, we constantly promote the benefits of becoming a member.

Looking forward

Morales said many of the services the chamber provides to members and non-members — such as notary services, certifications, promoting Webb County for increased tourism and investment — will also continue to be provided in the new establishment.

“We need to give businesses the education and all the tools they need, so they know when to react when things happen,” Morales said.

LMT publisher William “Bill” Green, who served as president of the Laredo Chamber of Commerce in the 1990s when the North American Free Trade Agreement was still being debated and ultimately had a major impact on Laredo’s economy, also said he sees change. as positive.

“I think they’ve got a good new location there near McPherson, so I think they’re doing everything right so far,” Green said. “I think the chamber has a very good future, and we remember a little today when I was president 30 years ago. For the past few years, we have been growing at 2% per year, and that’s a lot But when you face the fact that you have 170,000 people, that means we’re adding another 2,000 jobs to Laredo, and the chamber is a big part of that.

Cuellar wished the chamber well with their move and said he intended to continue working with them in the future.

“Good luck with the change. … It’s good to have that kind of change,” Cuellar said. “When they bring in someone with new ideas, it’s good for the community.”

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