Odessa TX A Great Place to Do Business
“I may not be from Odessa, but it has stolen my heart,” said Odessa accountant Judd Campbell. “It’s a great place to live and work.” The Odessa Chamber of Commerce helps his adopted city to keep growing better and better, he noted, by providing opportunities for networking, promotion and professional development.
“It would be impossible to list everything that makes Odessa special,” said Campbell, a member of the CPA firm Johnson, Miller & Co. “I lived in Oklahoma almost all my life before moving to Odessa in 2007. But I found that Odessa has an extraordinary mix of great people, a small-town community with big-city-sized business opportunities, a great place to raise a family and diverse opportunities to enjoy art in all its forms that are unique to a community of its size.”
“The people here have a can-do attitude that I believe is unmatched in any other community in the country.”
Campbell’s passion for the city has led him to serve on the Chamber’s Board of Directors.
“The Chamber is an advocate for a healthy business environment,” he said. “It represents the business community with the city government, both in advocating for objectives that will make Odessa a better place to do business, as well as managing many of the programs designed to make Odessa a better place, such as economic development, tourism and travel.”
What’s more, Campbell said, “the Chamber provides a mouthpiece to magnify the development of local businesses, from ribbon cuttings for new businesses or new locations, to celebrations of anniversaries, milestones and accomplishments. The Chamber also cultivates opportunities for business people to interact in ways that build community and relationships.
“All of these efforts have a significant impact on the potential for economic success of any business in the community that far exceeds the cost of membership.”
Two other Odessa business leaders, restaurateur Carlos Hernandez and retailer Austin Keith, agree.
“Rosa’s Cafe & Tortilla Factory has been a member of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce since we acquired the restaurant concept in 1995, and today I consider myself fortunate to be a member of the Chamber’s Board of Directors,” said Rosa’s Vice President Carlos Hernandez. “The Chamber keeps me up to date on issues such as activities in Austin that can affect my restaurants, as well as new businesses and events coming to town that can impact my sales in a positive manner. I think our investment in the Odessa Chamber of Commerce is worth every penny.”
Austin Keith said Pinkie’s, a beverage alcohol chain with 15 stores across West Texas, was a member of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce even before he bought the business in 1997. In fact, the first Pinkie’s store was opened by Tom “Pinkie” Roden in 1934 at about the same time as business owners were organizing the Chamber.
Eighty-five years later Keith is an enthusiastic supporter of the Chamber’s work. He has been chairman of the Chamber board and still sits on the board. He also has worked to expand business in the city by serving terms as president of Grow Odessa, an industrial development group funded by local business owners, and president of the Odessa Development Corp., a Texas 4A corporation funded by sales tax revenue and overseen by the city council.
Keith thinks a chamber of commerce’s greatest benefits are affording the opportunity for business and community to network with each other from a central place, and providing information to both business people and the rest of the community. ›
The Chamber’s networking opportunities include an annual welcoming breakfast and business expo for
new school teachers, the Chamber Challenge Golf Tournament, and Business After Hours events held about eight times a year at a different business sites each time.
“It’s good to speak with people who own restaurants, who own grocery stores, different dealerships – you get a really good mix,” Keith said.
Promoting Odessa’s Assets
One benefit the Chamber provides is increased visibility for local residents as well as visitors to the area. The Chamber recently launched a new and improved website, www.odessachamber.com, that provides members with access to promote events on the community calendar. It also helps members fill open positions by sharing job postings.
The Chamber also works to create exposure for its members through its annual directory, which is placed in local businesses, sent to travel centers and hotels and mailed directly to all active members. The directory is also available on the Chamber website and sent to those requesting relocation information about the city.
The Chamber has launched a new advertising program called “Chambertising.” It includes e-blast opportunities and mail-out inserts. E-blasts are sent to the Chamber’s membership base, a subscription list and members of the Young Professionals of Odessa.
Developing Leaders and Skills
The Chamber offers leadership and professional development opportunities through its Leadership Odessa, Jr. Leadership Odessa and Young Professionals of Odessa programs.
Leadership Odessa is a nine-month program in which up-and-coming leaders learn about the city and what it has to offer. This provides both a great development opportunity and a tremendous networking opportunity. About 50 people complete the program each year.
The Jr. Leadership Odessa program recruits about 40 juniors from area high schools to participate in a six-week course mirroring the Leadership Odessa program.
The Young Professionals of Odessa program seeks to create business opportunities, increase community involvement, provide leadership education and promote an overall investment in Odessa’s future for adults age 21 to 40. In 2016, the group exceeded 150 members with its membership base steadily growing each year since.
Judd Campbell said the Chamber continues to change as the needs and challenges of the community change.
“One advantage the Chamber has is the ability to be more nimble and change more quickly and efficiently than the city or county governments can do,” Campbell said. “Looking to the future, I think it will be important for the Chamber to utilize this even more as we address the challenges and opportunities at our doorstep.”