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 New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, we are featuring space dedicated to “This Week in Chamber History”. This is the fifth month for a review of the previous four featured accomplishments.
The year was 1936. The chamber formed a “Sightseeing Bureau” for the purpose of promoting the tourist business of New Braunfels. As early as 1922 the chamber had a visitors committee. Less than 77 years after the city was founded, community leaders already understood the importance of bringing in new dollars into the local economy to benefit citizens. The visitors committee came just after WWI, and the sightseeing committee just after the Great Depression and prior to WWII.
Then, in 1971, following the state of Texas passing legislation to tax hotel room occupancy that same year, the chamber pushed for the ½ cent sales tax to be approved here and it was. Back then, the 2% tax on hotel rooms raised less than $10,000 the first year. The chamber had been running the sightseeing bureau since 1936 and even prior to that from 1922 had a visitors committee and was the logical choice to put these funds to use. That $10,000 today equates to more than $4 million for the city to utilize to benefit the visitor industry, arts and heritage organizations, and the civic convention center. Plus, the economic impact is even more wide-spread, lowering our property taxes and employing thousands.
The chamber was also active in helping others in need. In April of 1954, the Comal County Community Fund was formally organized and the hchamber administered the Comfund until 1989. The Comfund evolved into what we know today as the United Way of Comal County. Since 2008 the United Way has raised and distributed over $6.5 million locally in support to more than 250 programs. Many of our employees and volunteers have been very active in the Comfund and now United Way.
New Braunfels voters approved an additional half-cent sales tax in May 1995 for the purposes of economic development initiatives and property tax reduction. Since that time, your chamber has provided the recruiting and marketing support for these efforts. Originally there were two city council-appointed boards with different missions, and in 2001 they were combined into one. Thousands of new jobs have been the result along with many, many public infrastructure and quality of life projects that otherwise may not have occurred.
Bringing in new dollars to the community and helping others have thus been long-standing goals of your Chamber of Commerce. The dates and faces may have changed over the last 100 years, but the focus has not as pointed out over the last four weeks in the recent “This Week in Chamber History” remembrances.
Success Flows Here!