Meek

In 2019 the New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce is celebrating 100 years. Over these past 100 years the official name has evolved, but the mission has remained the same and that is to promote a better economy and a better city. Each Sunday in the Herald-Zeitung we are featuring space dedicated to “This Week in Chamber History.” This is the seventh month for a review of the previous four featured accomplishments. 

The year was 1927. The “Roaring ‘20s” were in full swing, and the merely 8-year-old chamber was already focused on ensuring economic prosperity by using a board of city development. That board and the chamber were linked as one organization until the early 1970s. The chamber had a merchants committee organize and create a retail merchants committee so more focus could occur for our downtown. In the 1980’s it was the chamber that through a study committee came forth a mainstreet program that operates in city hall to this day. 

The chamber is fortunate to have many volunteers give their time throughout the years. Fast-forward to the 1960s and volunteer recognition programs were created that we still use today. The Besserung Award (1964) honors the citizen of the year, Chair of the Board Awards (then named President’s Awards beginning in 1967) are given to those individuals who have made a significant contribution to the community in a specific field of civic endeavor, and the Hall of Honor Award beginning in 1968 to honor those individuals who have participated in civic activities over many years. The Honors Hall meeting room was built in 1982 behind the chamber office and connected in 2007 when a major remodel occurred. Honoring community volunteers has remained an important function of the chamber as it should. After all, it is the people that make this community great.

Leadership from those volunteers is the real “secret sauce” for New Braunfels success. How do you keep that pipeline filled? Enter Leadership New Braunfels in 1992. Today the alumni reaches nearly 700 and a youth leadership program began in 1998. Local non-profit organizations, businesses, and government entities are occupied by LNB graduates. 

Eight years in the making, ground was finally broken in 2006 for the expansion and remodel of the civic center, which was first opened in 1971. It was the chamber back in 1968 leading the effort to acquire a civic center for the community, and again in the 2000-2006 timeframe attempting multiple times to get it expanded and more useful for citizens and visitors alike. It took a few elections and lots of leadership to see it through, but today its frequent use stands as a testament to the need. 

The common thread to these four major milestones was leadership from the citizenry. Time and time again, needs were brought forth from citizens on how to make New Braunfels a better place to live. The dates and faces may have changed over the last 100 years, but the focus has no,t as pointed out over the last four weeks in the recent “This Week in Chamber History” remembrances. 

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