When the Palmview Chamber of Commerce was founded in 2011, it did not have an office to call home.
“We were practically homeless,” newly-elected Chamber President Diana Garcia said. “We had to hold our meetings in restaurants and from there we went from having a portable building to an office in city hall. I can’t help but think ‘Oh wow, look at where we’re at now.’”
Garcia was elected chamber president Tuesday night having served as vice president since November. Garcia is one of the chamber’s founding members alongside her husband, City Councilman Joel Garcia and City Councilwoman Linda Sarabia.
“I’m happy for her, she will continue to do great things with the chamber,” said Sarabia, who also serves on the chamber’s board of directors. “She shares the same passion and sense of pride for the chamber we have for it and we’re confident she’ll continue the progress of the chamber. She’ll only make it better.”
Garcia replaces Robert Kirby, who stepped down as chamber president due to work issues.
Garcia co-manages Palmview’s Collision Masters body shop as well as the storage unit ABC Storage with her husband. The Rio Grande City native said she plans to continue the chamber’s growth as it tripled its membership in the last year to 60 members.
“People are excited with the chamber, we have a new administrative assistant (Esmeralda Reyna) who is visiting businesses and hearing the needs of the owners and bringing them to us,” Garcia said. “A lot of people are still unaware we exist and we need to change that to be the voice for our businesses.”
Garcia said she hopes to not only build on what the chamber has already accomplished but also ensure that local businesses feel like they benefit from being members of the chamber.
Garcia also plans to continue the chamber’s “Taco Talk” and monthly luncheons, social gatherings which provide networking opportunities for local business owners.
“I know the needs for our businesses and how they need to network and work amongst each other,” Garcia said. “We want members to know what’s available for employers. A lot of times you open a business and you know your trade but don’t know what’s out there. We’ve had insurance agents in the past come to our gatherings and talk about liability in the business and we’re planning a similar one for retirement information. I’m excited for what we have to offer.”
Garcia said term limits for her position will be determined at the next meeting for the Chamber of Commerce which is tentatively set for July 11.