A New Collin County Collaborative Effort Aims to Increase Voter Turnout

Collin County VotesCollin County Business Alliance partners with local chambers such as Frisco, McKinney and Plano

In hopes to increase voter participation, the Collin County Business Alliance has partnered with local chambers to bring forth a cooperative effort called CollinCountyVotes to educate business leaders and residents about local elections.

Through this effort, the CCBA has created video candidate profiles in which mayoral, city council and Collin College board of trustees candidates provide information about themselves and their vision for the city or college. The CCBA and chambers will also be hosting forums, providing real-time updates on Twitter via @CCBATexas and the hashtag #CollinCountyVotes.

“The May 6 elections will have a substantial impact on residents and businesses,” CCBA chairman Sanjiv Yajnik said. “The CCBA is pleased to partner with chambers of commerce across the county to create opportunities for voters to inform themselves about issues and candidates. We encourage voters to meet the candidates at the local forums and participate in these important elections.”

The initiative’s website, www.collincountyvotes.com, went live last week and provides information about each city’s election as well as important election dates.

The first candidate forum will be held for the Plano mayoral candidates April 13 at the Capital One Conference Center in Plano.

“Since its inception, the [CCBA] has served as a catalyst to help the public and private sectors address key issues impacting our county, such as water, transportation and education,” Yajnik said.

Plano Chamber of Commerce President Jamee Jolly said many of decisions being made at the local level have the greatest impact on residents.

“It’s funny how many people turn out for the presidential election, but really when you think about your day-to-day life—how you run your business and how you run your household—is mostly impacted by local elections,” Jolly said.

The local impact is the reason why local chambers should educate businesses and residents about upcoming elections, Frisco Chamber of Commerce President Tony Felker said.

Felker said if the collaborative effort between CCBA and the chambers is successful at the local level, he expects to see this effort continue across county and state elections.

“A lot of this effort is just to test things out and work with digital media, social media and see how working together we can hopefully move the needle in terms of getting people out to vote,” Felker said.

McKinney Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Hermes said each chamber does things differently but the cooperation with CCBA will bring a more cohesive plan across Collin County.

“Anytime you can leverage your resources and cross-promote something as important as voting, we hope to see higher number of voters,” she said.

In the last Plano City Council election in May 2015 the voter turnout ranged from 3 percent to 6 percent. The last McKinney City Council election also held in May 2015, the voter turnout ranged from 5 percent to 7 percent. A special election to fill a vacancy on Frisco City Council held on Feb. 18 and a runoff on March 25 both had a voter turnout of about 5 percent.

Hermes said the collaboration with CCBA will hopefully increase the voter turnout for each city.

“It’s our goal to help educate, inform and motivate our community to have a voice and elect leaders who make decisions that will impact our community for years to come,” Hermes said.

CollinCountyVotes also includes the Allen-Fairview Chamber of Commerce and the Richardson Chamber of Commerce.

This article was originally published by Community Impact Newspaper.

Welcome New March Members!

The Plano Chamber was thrilled to welcome 31 new members in the month of March. Learn more about each new member business and the services they offer by clicking their name below.

Membership Thank You

Absolute Construction
ACN
Arbrook Realty Group LLC
Brightway Insurance
David D McElroy Real Estate
Design & Mine
F. Ken Fleckenstein – Handyman
HGI Lewisville
Huffines Communities
Jackson Walker LLP
Jessica Brock State Farm
Lane Gorman Trubitt, LLC
Lenicam Video Productions
Local Door Coupons
Lori Scott Insurance Agency
Minnie’s Resale Boutique
Murphy USA/Murphy Express 8804
OmniKey Realty
Park at Gateway – Gateway Phase III
Promos, Signs, Etc.
Propac Marketing
Resurrection Episcopal Church
Roopa Pemmaraju
Sci-Tech Discovery Center
Staggs Plumbing LLC
Studio 6 Fitness
Teriyaki Madness
The Gomel Group LLC
Tuff Shed
Woodspring Suite Signature Dallas Plano
Your Brand is My Business

Are you interested in learning more about the Plano Chamber of Commerce and what your business can gain from joining the Plano Chamber? CLICK HERE for information about member benefits, services, and programs or contact Tracy Bartholomew, Director of Membership Development at tracyb@planochamber.org.

Don’t forget to visit the Plano Chamber Business Directory the next time you are looking for products, services, or a fun night out with friends! Remember to support local businesses and Shop Plano First.

How to Make Your Voice Heard at the Texas Capitol

Speak Up. Speak Out. Advocate.

What issues matter most to you this session? Texas House Parliamentarian Chris Griesel explains one of the most basic ways to engage elected officials on those issues: speaking up.

Texas Tribune
Graphic by Ben Hasson of The Texas Tribune

As lawmakers cross the halfway mark of the 85th Legislature, debate is heating up on a number of issues, including bills that would expand school choice funding, limit increases in college tuition, strip funding from sanctuary cities and regulate public bathroom use based on a person’s “biological sex.”

What issues matter most to you this session? House Parliamentarian Chris Griesel explains one of the most basic ways to engage elected officials on those issues: speaking up. See below for tips from Griesel on how to make your voice heard — an interview that’s been edited for clarity and brevity.

This post is from The Texas Tribune’s Come and Take it Challenge, which encourages readers to learn more about how Texas government works. CLICK HERE to read the full article.

What’s the best way for Texans to be heard on an issue they care about?

Chris Griesel: So let me describe the problem, and then I’m going to tell you a version of the solution. In the next 80 days, 1.8 million pieces of unique communications are going to emanate from Texans into the Capitol. To put that in context, that communication would fill the seats in more than 22 Dallas Cowboys stadiums. I want you to think about all those people in those stadiums yelling at one time. What are the odds of your voice being heard on the stadium floor? It’s signal and noise — how do you get your signal through?

Who should citizens be contacting? What’s the difference between contacting Gov. Greg Abbott, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz or a state legislator?

CG: The short answer is you can always write to anyone about anything. But if you have limited time, you might want to target your communication at whoever is actually acting next. And you might want to target who can actually help you make the difference you are requesting. When I worked at the Supreme Court of Texas, I answered a lot of phone calls from people upset at what the U.S. Supreme Court had just done. I really couldn’t be much help to people who wanted me to deliver a message to Chief Justice [William] Rehnquist. Also, it is more likely that you will get a better response on the local “filling in the potholes” issues if you talk with your city councilperson or county commissioner rather than a United States senator. As far as I know, Gov. Abbott, Sens. [John] Cornyn and Cruz, and all members of the state Legislature love well-written and well-conceived correspondence.

Does showing up to testify in Austin make a difference? Would it change a lawmaker’s position?

CG: I think that coming down and talking to membership does matter, but I also think it matters that you have that contact. Every bill starts with a story. You’ve got to start that story somewhere, and that is either at a town hall, or when they’re walking and they knock on your door and they want your vote and you stop and you give them five seconds of your time. I do think that personal contact has something to do with it.

But coming to the Capitol is great because one of the things that our committee system does is pop up a card when you appear as a witness. It tells the members what district you are from, and so the members and staff are looking at those cards all the time. The members want to hear your stories. Remember, they’re trapped in Austin, Texas — it’s like being trapped in a very bad high school with marginal food for 140 days. They want to hear stories from back home.

What if someone can’t come all the way to Austin?

CG: You have these opportunities to engage with them not only when they’re in session, but you have a chance to engage with them the 18 months when they’re not in session, and I would fully use that time to get your point across.

Where do you see communication with elected officials going from here?

CG: For the last 200 years, members have been reactively responding to constituent concerns. Maybe the future for legislators is having staffers whose sole job is to proactively make it easier for members to reach different audiences or constituencies. … A great example of trying to find the audience rather than merely listening to the audience is a set of two really well done infographics made by a member’s office on how to communicate and testify before the Legislature, that can be easily transmitted in a number of formats and used in almost any group in any every situation. They beat anything I’ve said.

How to contact your legislator by Rep. Donna Howard

Do you want to learn more about current issues and policy that may affect you, your family, and your business? Join the Plano Chamber at an upcoming Public Policy Committee Meeting or explore the Events Calendar to attend Candidate Forums, Town Halls, and Issue Updates.

Golf as Networking: Mixing Business with Pleasure

Linking Up: How to Network on the Golf Course

2016 Plano Chamber Golf Tournament held at Pecan Hollow Golf Course in Plano Texas on May 9, 2016. Title Sponsor: The Medical Center of Plano
2016 Plano Chamber Golf Tournament held at Pecan Hollow Golf Course in Plano Texas on May 9, 2016. Title Sponsor: The Medical Center of Plano

The sun is shining and a gentle breeze embraces you as your survey your surroundings. Your eyes sweep over deep-green lawns, the occasional tawny-colored rough peppering the swells, the cool blue of the sea in the distance. As you prepare to tee up, you share a laugh with your colleagues and, amid the casual conversation, wind up discussing the next step on an important project.

It’s no wonder the golf course is a popular setting for networking with colleagues and business partners. The relaxed outdoor setting provides ample opportunities for people to get to know one another on a more personal level and forge deeper relationships.

Even so, networking doesn’t just happen; like a newly planted seed, it needs proper nurturing to grow into something real. Here’s how to make the fairway more conducive to achieving desired business goals.

Matching Goals With Formats

The first step to make sure a golf event results in successful networking opportunities is to pick the right format – both for your corporate desires and your attendees.

The Importance of Proper Etiquette

It’s crucial to remember that although golf is a fun, more casual way to connect with peers or partners, an event with clients still qualifies as a business environment. How you and your attendees behave on the course says a lot about your company and your personal work ethic.

Play the Business Card

The more naked aspects of networking take place at the end of the tournament and at the post-game reception.

Whether for business or pleasure, golf is a bonding experience between individuals. Establishing a positive relationship on the course enhances business relationships.

CLICK HERE to read the full article from Successful Meetings.

To register for the 27th Annual Plano Chamber and Toyota of Plano Golf Tournament, please CLICK HERE.

Welcome New February Members!

The Plano Chamber was thrilled to welcome 32 new members in the month of February. Learn more about each new member business and the services they offer by clicking their name below.

Membership Thank You

Al Valente
Ameriprise Financial
Apcon, Inc.
Archer Western Herzog
Bonchon Chicken
British Swim School
Cabi – Katherine Hancock
Chenault House of Hearing Inc. DBA Beltone Hearing Center
CityCentral
Cornerstone Professional Payroll Services
Crest Exteriors
Darin McCullough State Farm Insurance
Diamond Physicians
Dossani Paradise Investments, LLC
Farmers Insurance – David Athans
Farmers Insurance – Josef Stransky
Hampton Inn & Suites – The Colony
Insurica
James Jenkins Agency
Kayci Prince
L Factor Marketing
La Quinta Inn & Suites Dallas Plano The Colony
Lima Taverna
Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant – Laura Belcher
Phoenix Home Care
Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers
Tartalicious
TekConcierge
Texas Urban Living Realty
The Print House
Travel Host
World Language Schools

Are you interested in learning more about the Plano Chamber of Commerce and what your business can gain from joining the Plano Chamber? CLICK HERE for information about member benefits, services, and programs or contact Tracy Bartholomew, Director of Membership Development at tracyb@planochamber.org.

Don’t forget to visit the Plano Chamber Business Directory the next time you are looking for products, services, or a fun night out with friends! Remember to support local businesses and Shop Plano First.

Plano Legislative Days Recap

Plano’s business and community leaders traveled to Austin for the second installment of Plano Legislative Days from February 15-16, 2017. A joint effort between Plano ISD, the City of Plano, and the Plano Chamber of Commerce, Plano Legislative Days aims to create a forum of citizens, elected officials, and business professionals working together to represent Plano’s specific needs to our elected officials.

Speaker Joe Straus poses with the Plano Legislative Days delegation on February 16, 2017.
Speaker Joe Straus poses with the Plano Legislative Days delegation on February 16, 2017.

Plano Legislative Days includes two days of programming focused on issues that are relevant to our city. The agenda includes speakers, networking opportunities, and scheduled meetings with legislators. The program on February 15 featured legislative updates from Representative Todd Hunter, Chairman of Calendars Committee and Vice-Chair of Criminal Jurisprudence; an overview of Plano’s legislative priorities from Mayor Harry LaRosiliere, Plano ISD Board President Missy Bender, and Plano Chamber Board Chair Craig Perry; and welcome messages from Plano’s elected officials, Senator Van Taylor, Rep. Jeff Leach, and Rep. Matt Shaheen.

On February 16, Former State Representative John Otto discussed issues affecting the 85th Texas Legislative Session over breakfast. The delegation then traveled to the Capitol and gathered for a group photo with Speaker Joe Straus. Senator Van Taylor was kind enough to give a guided tour of the Capitol to the group before individuals and small groups headed to individual legislative meetings.

Senator Van Taylor explains some of the history behind the Texas Capitol.
Senator Van Taylor explains some of the history behind the Texas Capitol.

Mike Morath, Texas Education Agency Commissioner, answered questions regarding school finance and “taxparency” – two of Plano’s major issues in the Plano Chamber’s 2017 Legislative Agenda. After lunch, the group gathered for a photo with Governor Greg Abbott. Legislative meetings were also had with Mattie Heith, Legislative Director for Senator Kelly Hancock; Pete Winckler, Legislative Director for Senator Craig Estes; and Jonathan Sierra-Ortega, Policy Director for Senator Robert Nichols. The Plano Chamber advocated for policies that will positively impact our city and the North Texas region.

Plano Legislative Days successfully accomplished our goal of advocating for Plano as a cohesive unit. To keep up to date on issues that affect you and your business during the 85th Texas Legislative Session, CLICK HERE to sign up for the weekly Take 10: Legislative Landscape e-newsletter or attend an upcoming Public Policy Committee meeting.

From left, Senator Van Taylor, Rep. Jeff Leach, and Rep. Matt Shaheen address the Plano Legislative Days group.
From left, Senator Van Taylor, Rep. Jeff Leach, and Rep. Matt Shaheen address the Plano Legislative Days group.

3 Tips to be Heard at a Congressional Town Hall

The content below is courtesy of the Friends of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Town Halls

Town halls are getting quite a bit of attention these days. Shouting constituents and police escorts seem to be the trend – but are main messages getting through?

If you’re thinking about attending an event with your Representative or Senator, learn how to make a real impact on the issues you care about … even if you don’t make the evening news.

Introduce Yourself to the Congressional Staff.

Members of Congress don’t fly solo. At public events, they typically have one to three staff members with them. Congressional staff are trusted members of an elected official’s team and they work every day for your district.

Take a moment to introduce yourself and ask for a business card. Field Representatives, District Directors, and Communications and Press staff are usually the most responsive when it comes to talking policy in the district. Follow-up by email thanking them for their time, and now you have a direct line of communication to an actual person on the Member’s staff. Don’t abuse this! Send emails only on important issues and always be respectful and professional.

When You Have a Question, Frame it with a Story

Policy is dry – and often boring – even to Members of Congress. Citing public law and statistical numbers doesn’t sway opinion, but stories do. Explain why and how a policy is affecting you, your family, your business, or your community.

Members take these stories with them when they go back to Congress, share with colleagues, and often cite them in committee discussions and on the House floor.

Follow-up with a Letter to the Editor

After attending a town hall or similar event with your member of Congress, write a short letter to the editor of your local paper sharing your observations and opinions. These should be about 150 words, and make sure you include the Member’s name. When it’s published online, the Congressional office will receive a media alert and be sure to see it, likely including it in the following day’s internal press clips that are sent to the Member and all staff.

If your elected official supported your policy, thank them. If they don’t quite see the light, publicly reinforce your opinion and highlight your disappointment. Post the letter on Facebook as well, where friends and neighbors can see and share.

You are a Constituent

Elected officials represent you and deserve to hear from you. But they also represent at least 700,000 of your neighbors and are human beings with families and a multitude of commitments. To be effective as you engage on policy that is important to you, be respectful and build relationship that can extend past one event or email.

CLICK HERE to read the full article.

Welcome New January Members!

The Plano Chamber was thrilled to welcome 2017 with 31 new members in January. Learn more about each new member business and the services they offer by clicking their name below.

Membership Thank You

Academy of Classical Karate
AeZion, Inc.
Allumette Cafe
Anderson Merchandisers
Ann Bacchus
BBVA Compass Bank
Breakout Games Plano
CrestCom International
Dallas IVF – Plano Fertility Center
David M. Smith
DFW Storm Solutions
Ebby Halliday Realtors – Shuey Group
Financial Professionals
Fine Art Staging and Rental
Garber2 Partners LLC
Independence Title
Keller Williams – Amy Stubblefield
Legends at Chase Oaks
Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament
MRoads
One2One Restaurant and Bar
Pinnacle Alliance Realty
ReachLocal Inc.
Residence Inn Dallas Plano Richardson
Ribbons for a Cause
Shamshiri CPA Group, PLLC
Ternan Law Firm, PLLC
The Clubs of Prestonwood – Hills Course
The JPaul Company
V Wait Group
Vonage Business

Are you interested in learning more about the Plano Chamber of Commerce and what your business can gain from joining the Plano Chamber? CLICK HERE for information about member benefits, services, and programs or contact Tracy Bartholomew, Director of Membership Development at tracyb@planochamber.org.

Don’t forget to visit the Plano Chamber Business Directory the next time you are looking for products, services, or a fun night out with friends! Remember to support local businesses and Shop Plano First.

2016 Ambassador Award Honorees

You might know them as the smiling faces when walking into an event, the people holding the ribbon at the latest Grand Opening, or as devoted committee members. They are the Plano Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors and the backbone of this organization – giving tirelessly of their time and talents to the vibrant business community in Plano that we all know and love. They embody the Chamber spirit and create the sense of family and community that exists within this organization.

So let’s give credit where credit is due. Please join us in congratulating the 2016 Plano Chamber Ambassador Award winners.

2016 Ambassadors Award Winners
2016 Ambassador Award Winners, from left: Kevin Giles, Ambassador of the Year; Tywon Thompson, Recruiter of the Year; Shirley Moon, Ambassador Chair Award; and Ron Schoof, Ambassador Goodwill & Spirit Award.

Ambassador of the Year: Kevin Giles, Employee Money Solutions

The 2015 Ambassador Goodwill & Spirit Award recipient, Kevin continued to increase his impact! This year, he supported and welcomed our new members by attending nearly all of the year’s Ribbon Cuttings, weekly Business Interchange meetings, and Business After Hours events. With all he has done in just two short years of membership, it should come as no surprise that Kevin is taking his involvement to the next level by serving as our 2017 Ambassador Chair.

Recruiter of the Year: Tywon Thompson, The Stones, Inc.

New member recruitment is a vital role our Ambassadors play. It’s said that it is easy to sell something you’re passionate about and Tywon’s passion for the Plano Chamber can be evidenced by his frequent use of the hashtag #MyChamberIsBetterThanYours. In addition to his involvement with the Ambassadors, he is also serving his second term as Chair of the Young Professionals of Plano and a member of the Chamber’s Board of Directors!

Ambassador Goodwill & Spirit Award: Ron Schoof, Carpet Direct

This award is given to the Ambassador who best personifies the qualities of leadership, direction, and motivation for other Ambassadors. A treasured volunteer, Ron is always willing to lend a helping hand at Chamber events with a cheerful attitude and calming presence. He is a loyal Ribbon Cutting attendee, serving as a friendly Chamber face for many new member businesses. Congratulations, Ron!

Ambassador Chair Award: Shirley Moon, Moonbeam Designs & Interiors

In 2016, Shirley was responsible for leading our three Ambassador Team Captains and more than 60 Ambassadors. Under her leadership, the Ambassadors welcomed over 300 new members to the Plano Chamber and facilitated 75 Ribbon Cuttings!

Thank you to all of our Ambassadors on their service and commitment to the Plano Chamber and a big congratulations to these well-deserved recipients. If you’re interested in participating in the 2017 Ambassador Club, please contact Tracy Bartholomew, Director of Membership Development.

Congressman Sam Johnson Announces Retirement

Congressman Sam Johnson and Plano Chamber President/CEO Jamee Jolly at the 2014 Best of Plano awards ceremony.
Congressman Sam Johnson and Plano Chamber President/CEO Jamee Jolly at the 2014 Best of Plano awards ceremony.

PLANO, TX, January 9, 2017 – On Friday, January 6, 2017, Congressman Sam Johnson announced his retirement at the end of the current Congressional session after serving in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1991.

“Congressman Johnson’s efforts and accomplishments in the House of Representatives have benefited our region and the nation for 25 years,” Plano Chamber President/CEO Jamee Jolly said. “As a dedicated public servant, Congressman Johnson has earned the utmost gratitude from the business community and residents in his district.”

In 2009, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce honored Congressman Johnson with the Spirit of Enterprise Award for his support of pro-growth legislation during the second session of the 110th Congress. His impact on the country has been vast. The Plano Chamber expresses our sincerest appreciation to Congressman Johnson’s achievements throughout his years of service to our great nation.

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About the Plano Chamber of Commerce
Established in 1946, the Plano Chamber represents over 1,200 businesses and community organizations in Plano and the surrounding area. Accredited as a 5-Star Chamber of Commerce in 2015 by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Plano Chamber of Commerce is committed to maximizing business development and economic growth of the community through advocacy, education, innovation, and collaboration.