'When I found out there wasn't an LGBT Chamber of Commerce, it was insane to me, [when]...San Antonio is the seventh-largest city in the U.S.' said Cristina Martinez, one of the most successful Lesbian Latina entrepreneurs in Texas. So, in October 2007, she started working to establish an LGBT Chamber of Commerce in San Antonio. By April 2008, Martinez had invited over 40 LGBT community activists, business owners, and other members of the community to a roundtable discussion aimed at creating the San Antonio LGBT Chamber of Commerce.
That meeting transitioned into a Steering/Advisory Committee that began identifying and nominating persons with the necessary skills to create the charter board of directors. That Steering/Advisory Committee included Charles 'Chad' Rembacki, Rodolfo 'Rudy' Lozano, Antonia Padilla, Anel Flores, Nelda Hernandez, Dee Smith, Gary Tapp, Cristina Martinez, Roberto Candelaria, Robert Vargas, and Javier A. Flores, many of whom are now either members of the Chamber's Board Directors or Advisory Board. The Steering/Advisory Committee went on to form the Charter Board of Directors in May 2008.
In June 2008, the charter Board of directors and Advisors began meeting and elected its first slate of officers, and began creating the foundations of the Chamber. The first committees to be created were Membership, Media Relations & Marketing (including a Website Subcommittee), and Programs & Events. The Membership Committee reviewed other LGBT chambers of commerce nationwide to develop membership levels, benefits, dues, and standard operations procedures (SOPs). Directors and Advisors quickly reached consensus on embracing available technology and green development by envisioning an interactive website as the hub of Chamber administration.
While Membership began designing membership levels and benefits, Media Relations & Marketing began introducing the Chamber to San Antonio with press releases on its creation and development and creating the website, and Programs & Events began shaping the regular activities of the Chamber. The Chamber held its inaugural event, its signature, monthly 4th Friday Mix & Mingle (4FM&M), on September 28 at which the Chamber introduced membership information and start taking applications.
The San Antonio LGBT Chamber exists to foster and promote a positive image of LGBT persons as well as the economic development and vitality of LGBT businesses and the businesses and professional organizations that support them, and, to facilitate the personal, professional and social growth of its Members via the exchange of ideas, resources, information and networking opportunities throughout the greater San Antonio metropolitan area!
Welcome to the future of the San Antonio LGBT Community, where LGBT and LGBT-friendly business owners, professionals, and consumers can direct our economic power - approximately $4 billion a year - to support the businesses that support the LGBT community.