HOMETOWN HEROES — Veteran-led chamber starts outreach in Golden Triangle
Published 12:40 am Saturday, June 24, 2023
A new Chamber of Commerce is actively building a network to connect veterans with local services.
1 – Creating a strong local veteran business ecosystem.
2 – Promoting the veteran business community and supplier diversity.
3 – Providing cooperative and business opportunities.
4 – Representing veteran entrepreneurs and chamber members to the greater Houston market, corporations and government supply chains.
These are the four core competencies of the Houston Regional Veterans Chamber of Commerce (HRVCC), a nonprofit established in 2021 by Dave Weaver and John Cacolice, retired U.S. Army veterans, to encourage economic growth and development of the veteran business economy.
For Mary Williams, Golden Triangle Forward Operating Base Director, her job of being a conduit and catalyst of awareness is just beginning in Southeast Texas.
According to statistics the HRVCC has helped hundreds of military members in the Golden Triangle connect with various services in the last year.
Williams retired from the U.S. Army in 2011 after serving 21 years, including four combat tours.
Williams said helping veterans is not a project or a job but a passion.
“I absolutely love our veterans and the community I’m from,” Williams said. “Had it not been for the veterans before me, I would never have had the chance to have served.”
Williams says when the HRVCC approached her with the opportunity to become the Forward Operating Base Director for this area, she jumped at the chance and has been on the go since.
“I ended up having an amazing career and now it’s my time to return the favor,” Williams said. “I advocate at the front lines for our veterans so that they can get the benefits and entitlements they deserve.”
The HRVCC offers a host of member benefits including an eight-week business growth academy, designed to help business owners and leaders accelerate growth in their business.
“The Houston Regional Veterans Chamber of Commerce will benefit the community by being a premier leader of a thriving and robust ecosystem while inspiring economic impact and community empowerment,” Williams said. “When you join the chamber, you will have a chance to support the veteran/military community and create a positive impact. We will help you to design, develop and implement programs or projects that support veterans and military families.”
According to their site, they also offer special network and advertising opportunities, business skills education, as well as other opportunities.
“It lets veteran-owned businesses in the local community know that we are here and that we will advocate for their business,” Williams says. “We collaborate, advocate, be a business education resource connection, while fostering a positive impact on the community and growing the economy region wide.”
Chamber member Wendy Clifford with Clifford Distilling LLC of Port Arthur says they’ve been afforded multiple opportunities to interact with other veteran-owned businesses not just locally, but across the entire country.
“Being on the chamber creates an opportunity to showcase our business and inform our community leaders of what it’s like to own and operate a whiskey distillery in Texas, more importantly the greater Houston area,” Clifford says. “The chamber serves as a medium from us to potential investors and allows us to network and promote the business while staying true to our core values and ethics as a Veteran owned and operated company.”
The Golden Triangle area of the HRVCC includes Jefferson, Orange, Hardin and Chambers counties, including the cities of Cheek, Nome, Hampshire-Fannett, Winnie, China and Anahuac.
“It’s a broad territory to cover,” Williams says. “The chamber will bring together programs, projects, organizations, people and resources to the military/veteran community.”
The chamber is open to all veteran and military spouse owned businesses as well as veterans, first responder owned businesses, veteran service organizations and non-profits, as well as passionate patriot-owned businesses, government agencies and corporate sponsors.
“Join us in the spirit of collaboration to do greater work together in the community to make an even greater impact for generations to come,” Williams says.
For more information, visit houveteranschamber.org or call 409-767-1797.
Written by Chrissie Mouton