Ten local chambers of commerce have joined to create the McLennan County Chamber Alliance, which should have greater clout in pursuing industry for Greater Waco and in shaping statewide policies on such issues as highway construction, a representative of the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce said Tuesday.
“This will give us swagger, knowing we can do special things if we work together,” said Matt Meadors, president of the Waco chamber, who added that local chambers already enjoy a good working relationship, but for a year have discussed formally pooling their resources.
Representatives of the 10 chambers Tuesday signed an agreement that carries no legal weight but symbolizes their commitment to work together, Meadors said.
“We already network, but this takes us to a higher level and gives us a bigger voice,” said John Sneed, chairman of the McGregor Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture.
Each chamber will choose a representative to serve as a nonvoting member of the Waco chamber board, and the Waco chamber will reciprocate.
Waco’s economic development staff will continue to spearhead efforts to attract new industry to Greater Waco, but chambers within the alliance will complement its work.
The chambers represent communities with a population of nearly 250,000 people and about 3,000 businesses.
“Our organization is not about location, it’s about jobs,” said Alfred Solano, chairman of the Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which has joined the alliance and hosted Tuesday’s news conference. “The Hispanic population is growing and represents the workforce of the present and the future.”
Solano said it makes sense for chambers with varied strengths and weaknesses to collaborate on projects.
Other partners in the alliance are the Bellmead, Hewitt, Robinson, McGregor, West, Lorena and Lacy Lakeview chambers, as well as the Cen-Tex African American Chamber.
Cindy Mosley, president-elect of the Greater Robinson Chamber of Commerce, said the alliance “will impact quality of life, economic development and prosperity,” in that it will encourage more interaction and networking among local chamber leaders in monthly meetings of the alliance.
“I think this will eliminate some looking over the shoulder” at what other cities are doing to court industrial prospects, Sneed said.
He noted that McGregor is home to an 8,700-acre industrial park whose most high-profile tenant is SpaceX, short for Space Exploration Technologies, which has become a leader in commercial rocketry and has secured contracts with NASA to haul provisions to the International Space Station.
Such a resource, Sneed said, can well serve the alliance and its efforts to bring high-tech jobs to Central Texas.
Meadors said the creation of the 10-chamber alliance does not lessen the need for a partnership beyond McLennan County.
“I continue to have regular meetings in Temple, Killeen, Belton, Lampasas and Harker Heights,” he said. “That is more of what I would refer to as the Central Texas collaboration. The McLennan County Alliance certainly would address issues right in our backyard.”