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Chamber to focus on jobs, membership

SAN ANGELO, Texas – As new leadership settles in at the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce, the organization stands poised to navigate any direction economic winds may blow.

“The big question hanging over the minds of most people is what will be the price of West Texas Intermediate crude,” said Phil Neighbors, chamber president.

The oil economy has made a huge impact on San Angelo over the last few years, and as prices have fallen the last few months, some companies have begun downsizing amid an uncertain forecast.

It is in this climate that Jeff DeLoach was named to the chamber helm, as chairman of the board of directors.

“We have indications that are still very positive for the local economy,” DeLoach said.

Despite economic slowing, things are not near standing still.

In related news, Texas job growth hindered by oil price plunge.

“The last two years we’ve had double-digit growth,” DeLoach said. “But with 5 percent, we are still growing.”

A diverse economy that thrived before the oil boom will continue to provide people with employment opportunities, and businesses will continue to grow, he said.

“Our job is to help those people who lose their job to obtain work or retrain for other work,” DeLoach said.

For DeLoach, contributing to the economic success of the area is second nature and an outgrowth of his position as Standard-Times publisher.

“I look at this chamber office as an opportunity to help Concho Valley grow and prosper,” DeLoach said. “This is a goal for the newspaper, and I can also carry it out in serving through the chamber.”

The theme for his year in office is for the chamber to be alert to opportunities that may present themselves in unusual ways, and to be ready to act, rather than take a waiting-and-see stance.

One goal is to continue to maintain and increase chamber membership — currently at 1,700 voting members.

This is a large chamber membership for the size of the community, DeLoach said.

Benchmarked at about 20 percent above average membership, San Angelo’s chamber also has better retention rates, which Neighbors attributes to “great volunteer leadership and a very supportive business community.”

DeLoach also targets increased funding in the organization to be used in support of legislative affairs, local economic development and hosting major events that bring tourism.

He is especially concerned with state funding toward infrastructure.

“One of the reasons our generation has been very successful is because the generation before us invested a lot in our transportation infrastructure — the roads in Texas as well as the country,” DeLoach said. “We owe it to the new generation to provide a good transportation system.”

New chairman-elect for the board of directors is Jamie Akin, Angelo State University executive director of development an alumni relations.

Other members taking new offices include: Executive Committee Member at Large C.J. Muniz, of Blue Cross Blue Shield, Past Chairman Rick Mantooth, of Foster Communications, Treasurer Chuck Shore, of First Financial Bank, and Executive Committee Member at Large John Fuentes, of Fuentes Caf.

This article was written by Denise Morris from San Angelo Standard-Times, Texas and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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