Deadline Extended – 2017 Dream Big Small Business Awards


2017 Dream Big Awards

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is in search of outstanding small businesses to participate in the 2017 Dream Big Small Business of the Year Awards program. This year’s Dream Big Award winner will receive a $25,000 cash prize and national recognition as part of the 2017 Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C.

Due to an overwhelming response from the U.S. Chamber’s corporate and chamber of commerce partners during the nomination process, they are extending the online application deadline to Monday June 5! This allows every small business the opportunity to celebrate their growth and success.

As part of the online application, each small business is required to:

  • Provide documentation of grossed revenues of less than $20 million in 2015 and 2016;
  • Provide documentation of in-kind and/or financial support to their community; and,
  • Provide responses to four (4) short essay prompts.

All online applications must be received by 11:59 P.M. EST on Monday, June 5, 2017.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is committed to recognizing a diversity of small business owners for their contributions to creating jobs to support economic growth.

To apply for the 2017 Dream Big Small Business of the Year Awards, please CLICK HERE.

Welcome New Members!

The Plano Chamber was thrilled to welcome 33 new business members in the month of May. Learn more about each member business and the services they offer by clicking the link below.

Membership Thank You

1 Solar Solution
Advance Auto Parts
Bloomfield Knoble Advertising
Celtin Bookkeeping Services LLC
Cendera Funding
CloudMellow Technologies and Consulting
Colleen Frost Realtors
Del Frisco’s Grille Legacy West
Farrah I. Ahmed PLLC
Flippin Pizza
Gemini Investments
Harmony Public Schools
Highpoint Apartments & Townhomes
Hutchins BBQ & Catering Co.
JPaul Roofing & Construction
Keating Marshall PLLC
Miklos Law, PLLC
North Italia Legacy West
OnQ Financial
Plano Housing Corporation
Productions Plus
Residence Inn Dallas Plano/Richardson
Rosenberg, Johnson & Sparks, PLLC
Sunfinity Solar
SwitchPlace, LLC
Texas Pain Physicians
Travel Host
True Food Kitchen

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

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.

In Booming Plano Labor Market, Some Employers Struggle to Hire

Restaurants, hospitality employers have trouble retaining employees as new jobs flood into suburb.

Garland resident Antonio Oreste, 42, works two jobs at The Shops at Legacy, including this one as a cook at Taco Diner.  Photo by: Daniel Houston, Community Impact Newspaper
Garland resident Antonio Oreste, 42, works two jobs at The Shops at Legacy, including this one as a cook at Taco Diner.
Photo by: Daniel Houston, Community Impact Newspaper

By Daniel Houston

May 25, 2017 – A series of prominent developments in Plano is expected to bring tens of thousands of jobs to the city in the coming years—but it will be harder to fill some of those job openings than others.

From the executives and staff in brand-new, sparkling corporate offices, to the cooks and servers in restaurants at the Legacy West development, the demand for labor in Plano is diverse and growing. But local business leaders have said the Plano restaurants, retail stores and hospitality employers that have struggled for years to retain their workers could be in for a harder time in the coming months.

“In a community like Plano where you have a large number of restaurants, retail [and] hotels that are coming online at once, you have a lot of competition” for labor, said Jamee Jolly, president and CEO of the Plano Chamber of Commerce.

Part of the issue, Jolly said, is tied to the cost of living in Plano, where fewer service-industry and retail professionals can afford to live than in some other areas of North Texas. The average home in Plano is valued at well over $300,000, and apartment rents tend to be higher than most low-wage earners can afford, she said.

These same conditions, common throughout Collin County, mean the area draws a high concentration of educated residents that higher-paying employers would like to attract. More than half of Plano residents have a bachelor’s or graduate degree, compared with fewer than 1 in 4 residents in the Dallas-Fort Worth area at large.

The local labor market has been moving in this direction for years, even before the latest round of development in Plano, state demographer Lloyd Potter said.

“There’s been a shift of the occupation of people that are in the labor force toward higher-skilled, higher-paid jobs, and away from the lower-skilled, lower-paid jobs,” Potter said.

Looking outside for answers

The restaurant industry is known for its chronic struggle to maintain stable staffs, but the past three years have been the most difficult Javier Ventura can remember.

Ventura, general manager for the Taco Diner location at The Shops at Legacy, said he works regularly to fill vacancies on his high-turnover restaurant staff.

“I will say that 80 percent of the people that I hire are going to be young, really young people,” Ventura said. “Those are the ones that either they last for one month or they just work for maybe a couple weeks and they say, ‘You know what, it’s just not for me.’”

Over time, Ventura said, the older, more experienced employees tend to stick around longer than younger employees with less experience. However, most of these employees who constitute the backbone of his staff do not live in Plano, he said.

“It’s people that come from Dallas, Garland, maybe Carrollton, because I guess they find it a little bit more hard for them to find a job,” Ventura said.

The restaurant starts employees off at $11 to $12 an hour in an effort to attract more candidates, Ventura said. When out-of-town candidates express interest in working at Taco Diner, however, Ventura said they will often hesitate when they learn the exact location.

Other business owners and managers have reached out to the Chamber with similar stories of hiring difficulties, Jolly said.

“When you’re talking about an hourly job, to ask someone to drive across North Texas to get to that job is not really feasible,” Jolly said. “Plano is surrounded on three sides by a toll road. That can be cost-prohibitive when you’re talking about a lower-wage-earning job.”

Antonio Oreste, a 42-year-old cook at Ventura’s restaurant, drives to work from his home in Garland each day. After he finishes his shift at Taco Diner each day, Oreste walks to a second job at another restaurant.

For other potential employees who, unlike Oreste, depend on public transportation to get to work, a broad swath of Plano is not served directly by rail or buses. That said, Plano is more connected to the Dallas Area Rapid Transit network than suburbs to the north.

“We do have light rail into our eastern sector, and that’s been very good for the restaurant industries on the eastern portion that have been able to bring in talent from Dallas and other areas; that’s been great,” Jolly said. “We are increasing the [bus] routes … into Legacy and Legacy West.”

Increasing these bus routes is a step Ventura and other employers in The Shops at Legacy have sought for a while, Ventura said.

High cost of housing

Home prices are rising in Plano, but area apartments are not getting cheaper, either.

New apartment communities are popping up across the city, many as part of mixed-use developments coming online, including Legacy West on the city’s northwest corner and Heritage Creekside on its southern border.

But many of these apartments are aimed at the young professionals who may be living and working in the offices nearby. The lowest rent at one Heritage Creekside apartment community, for instance, is over $1,000 per month. Figures like that are more than what many who earn service-industry wages can afford, Jolly said.

“With the housing costs currently the way they are in Plano and most of our immediately surrounding communities, it’s cost-prohibitive for those folks to live and work here,” Jolly said.

Jolly said some measures companies have used include offering competitive wages and benefits, as well as flexible hours compared with competitors more central to Dallas.

Despite the continued hiring difficulties many employers in the retail and service industries are having, Jolly said she believes they will manage the new challenges as they have until now.

“Again, there’s a lot of competition, but I feel good that they’re aware of it,” Jolly said. “They’re doing their best to be proactive.”

Read the full article about Plano’s labor market by Community Impact Newspaper HERE.

Take the LEED

Cambria Hotels & Suites Recognized as Plano’s First LEED-Certified Hotel


Cambria Hotels & Suites Plano – Legacy was awarded a LEED Silver Rating by the U.S. Green Building Council on May 16, 2017. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification requires multiple criteria that address sustainability levels, including using less water and energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and becoming more resource efficient.

“Sustainability isn’t just a state of mind, it’s your lifestyle, it’s how you live and exude it, from the inside/out,” John Henry, General Manager of the Cambria Hotels & Suites Plano – Legacy. “As a team, it’s our primary focus, and is discussed in everything we do, day in, day out. Our goal is to educate every team member, guest, client, vendor, and to take it into the community.”

O’Reilly Hospitality Management, LLC – the parent company of Cambria Hotels & Suites – is headquartered in Springfield, MO and participates in many sustainability programs as part of their everyday commitment to leaving less of an environmental impact. These programs include:

  • National Recycling Coalition
  • Clean the World Campaign
  • iStayGreen
  • Aquanomic Laundry Program

The four-story, 129-room Cambria Hotels & Suites opened in March 2015 at 7500 Parkwood Blvd. Located just minutes from The Shops at Legacy and several of Plano’s Fortune 1000 companies, the Plano property is ideal for business travelers. The hotel includes more than 2,400 sq. ft. of state-of-the-art meeting and conference space plus a restaurant, free Wi-Fi, fitness center, and outdoor pool.

“It truly is an honor to receive this extraordinary distinction for the Plano property,” said Tim O’Reilly, CEO for O’Reilly Hospitality Management. “Choice Hotels has been a tremendous partner throughout the process of bringing this hotel to the area as well as in other cities, and provides all of the resources for us to be able to achieve an accomplishment like this.”

Cambria Hotel & Suites Plano – Legacy held a press conference on May 24, 2017 to reveal their accomplishments in hotel sustainability and efforts to a healthier environment for the city of Plano. Guest speakers included General Manager John Henry, Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere, and Chris Day with City of Plano Commercial Recycling.


About Cambria Suites: Cambria Suites offers contemporary, upscale accommodations at affordable prices. Designed as a lifestyle hotel brand, Cambria Suites offers more than just a place to sleep at night. As of March 31, 2013, there were 19 properties open across the country, representing nearly 2200 guest suites, and 26 properties in various stages of development, representing an additional 3700 guest suites.

About Choice Hotels: Choice Hotels International, Inc. (NYSE: CHH) is one of the world’s largest lodging companies. With more than 6,300 hotels franchised in more than 35 counties and territories, they represent more than 500,000 rooms around the globe.

About O’Reilly Hospitality Management, LLC: O’Reilly Hospitality Managment, LLC has developed and manages many award-winning upscale restaurants, full select and extended stay service hotels, conference and convention centers, and other properties.

Legacy West Grand Opening

Grand Opening Celebrations Announced for Legacy West

Legacy West

Plano, TX – May 19, 2017Legacy West, the largest new mixed-use destination in North Texas, invites the public to attend its Grand Opening Celebration during the June 2-4, 2017, weekend. The celebration will feature live entertainment from top national and local musical acts as well as food and drink tastings, special store discounts and a “sneak peek” first look inside Legacy Hall, the 55,000 square foot food hall.

Developer Fehmi Karahan couldn’t be more excited. “The only thing better than watching this new magnificent project evolve from ground breaking to grand opening, is seeing fabulous new store and restaurants open and watching people genuinely enjoy the experience we have worked so hard to create,” said Karahan. “I can’t wait to hear the music, feel the vibe, and savor the taste of it all.”

The concert line-up will include the Jordan Kahn Music Company performing Friday, June 2 starting at 7:30 PM, followed by Emerald City Band on Saturday, June 3 at 2 PM and Party on the Moon Band at 7:30 PM. On Sunday, June 4, Taylor Pace Band will take the main stage at 2 PM.

Many Legacy West restaurants will offer food and drink tastings throughout the weekend including Bistro 31, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, Earls Kitchen + Bar, Fogo de Chao, Haywire, Mesero, Shake Shack, Starbucks Reserve, Taverna, True Food Kitchen, and Toulouse. Legacy Hall, a 55,000 square foot food hall, will offer tours to the public for the first time and will also have several of its food stall operators on site sampling their menu items.  Sprinkles will serve an exclusive Legacy West Chocolate Caramel cupcake and True Food Kitchen will offer a special cocktail called the Plano Paloma, only available June 2-4.

Legacy West retailers including Bonobos, Coach, Fabletics, Filson, Johnny Was, Peter Millar, Pockets Menswear, Suitsupply, Tesla, Tommy Bahama, TUMI, and West Elm will host special in-store events, parties and exclusive discounts and promotions. Also participating, The Renaissance Dallas at Plano Legacy West Hotel and Visit Plano.

Grand Opening Weekend event times will be Friday, June 2 from 5 PM – 9:30 PM, Saturday, June 3 from 12 PM – 9:30 PM, and Sunday, June 4 from 12 PM – 5 PM.


About Legacy West Located in one of America’s fastest growing, wealthy and most vibrant cities, Legacy West in Plano, Texas will be the very best place to live, work, eat, play and shop. The $3.2 billion dollar, 255-acre development boasts 415,000 dynamic square feet of open-air retail and restaurant space. Additionally, it will also be home to the North American headquarters of Toyota and FedEx Office as well as the regional headquarters for JPMorgan Chase and Liberty Mutual with more than 20,000 employees, making it one of the largest new job centers in the state. A 303-room Renaissance Legacy Hotel, two stunning, high-rise luxury living towers, more than 1,200 luxury apartments and 127 urban villas complete the project. At the helm of Legacy West is The Karahan Companies, a fully integrated real estate development, property management and investment firm that has been actively involved in Dallas-Fort Worth Real Estate since 1982. Established in 1983, capital partner Invesco Real Estate is a global leader in the real estate investment management business with $68 billion in real estate assets under management and a local presence in 21 regional offices across the U.S., Europe and Asia. Curating a premium blend of retailers and restaurants is Open Realty Advisors, a renowned real estate firm lauded for spearheading the retail growth of America’s most innovative brands.

Welcome New April Members!

The Plano Chamber was thrilled to welcome 28 new business members in the month of April. Learn more about each member business and the services they offer by clicking the link below.

Membership Thank You

Amundson Plumbing, LLC
Comfort Inn
Common Desk
Crest Auto Group
DaySpring Senior Living
Direct Orthopedic Care
Donovan & Watkins
Earls Legacy West
Farmers Insurance – Cheerath Agency
Fastest Labs of Plano
Jones, David & Jackson, PC
Kime Roofing & Construction
Legacy Tower
North Texas Certified Development Corporation
Perryman Financial Advisory
Postal Shoppe
RefiningUs, LLC
Regional Uniform & Supply
Roy’s Restaurant
Small World Realty LLC – Kyle Han
Sparta Pet Palazzo – Pet Boarding, Daycare, Grooming
Susan Plonka
Texas Wine and Wood
Total Coverage Insurance
TouchPoint Management Services
Uber Technologies, Inc.
Your Life by Design

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

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.

A New Collin County Collaborative Effort Aims to Increase Voter Turnout

Collin County Business Alliance partners with local chambers such as Frisco, McKinney and PlanoCollin County Votes

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,, 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
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

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.