In 2019 the New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce is celebrating 100 years. Over these past 100 years the official name has evolved, but the mission has remained the same and that is to promote a better economy and a better city. Each Sunday in the Herald-Zeitung we are featuring space dedicated to “This Week in Chamber History”. This is the tenth month for a review of the previous four featured accomplishments.
Tourism has been an important industry in New Braunfels for over a century. Your Chamber of Commerce has initiated many projects over the years to ensure that this sector remained prosperous and evolved to meet the needs of the customer and community.
The year was 1962. JFK was President. On October 5 of that year, the Chamber’s Community Affairs Committee committed to “investigating the possibility of construction of a civic center”. A Chamber-supported city-wide bond issue was held in 1968 and the civic center opened on Seguin Avenue in 1971. Your Chamber managed and rented out the facility for decades, until a remodeled and expanded center opened in 2008. The Chamber continues to market the facility for out of town guests.
In September of 1971 the New Braunfels, Seguin, and San Marcos Chambers of Commerce conceived a golf tournament to be known as the Central Texas Golf Fest. Fiesta in San Antonio was drawing attendance from our citizens (and their money was leaving town). This golf tournament was a way to infuse new dollars from visitors into the local economies. The event grew to be one of the largest in the United States, played in all three cities on as many as seven golf courses with nearly 2,000 players over three days. The first event kicked off in 1972 and ran every year until 2001.
The Chamber of Commerce welcomed a new Director of their Convention and Visitors Bureau October 1, 1988. A 35-year-old Rockport guy named Michael Meek. My job was to work with the many attractions, accommodation firms, and entire local hospitality industry to maintain the strong tourism base in the summer along with strengthening off-season business. My role included overseeing the civic center staff (3) and renting out the facility next door. The civic center budget was a whopping $55,000, including salaries and operating expenses.
Fast forward to 1997 and the community’s first highway visitor center was opened for business off Post Road. This was 11 years in the making, coinciding with my tenure. With traffic busy even then on Interstate 35, we wanted to provide a place for potential visitors to stop, use the restroom, and learn about all there is to see and do in our great area. This center was the forerunner of the current Highway Visitor Center located on Seguin Avenue and I-35, opened in November 2005. The newly formed Greater New Braunfels Economic Development Foundation provided more than $250,000 toward the construction costs of this beautiful and still functioning facility.
From promoting year-round off-water tourism attractions like group meetings and golf tournaments drawing in thousands to providing a highway visitor center 7 days a week, the dates and faces may have changed over the last 100 years, but the focus has not as pointed out over the last four weeks in the recent “This Week in Chamber History” remembrances.
Success Flows Here!