News Column

New SAHCC Chairman Gets Back to Basics

February 5, 2013

Rebecca Villaneda--HispanicBusiness

Alex Briseno at the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's 84th annual gala.
Alex Briseno at the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's 84th annual gala.

The San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (SAHCC) recently named Alex Briseno as its chairman. The Texan has clear goals for the chamber and the city.

Briseno is a former San Antonio city manager, who has a background of running a convention center, city airport, a garbage collection operation, golf courses and parking garages.

Briseno named three objectives he plans to achieve as the chamber's chairman: to get back to the basics, find solutions for San Antonio's unemployed and recognize the legacy of the city's Latino leaders.

"Our first goal is to continue to support our members and focus on what it is they want," Briseno told HispanicBusiness.

Related story: "San Antonio Hispanic Chamber Announces New Leadership"

Whether it be new programs, more networking mixers or seminars, or speakers, Briseno encourages the chamber's members to voice their ideas.

"We're trying to get feedback and focus on our basic goal, which is helping stimulate and encourage small-business development and grow them in the future into larger businesses," he said. "Beyond that we support Hispanics in business, whether it be Hispanics moving up the corporate ladder in various major corporations or Hispanics to be on boards of directors."

With a Hispanic population of 60 percent, San Antonio has its work cut out for isn't lowering the rate of unemployed 20- to 30-year-olds also is in Briseno's game plan. He plans to create a Workforce Capacity-Building Taskforce to address the issue.

"What can we do to get those young people in their 20s and 30s, re-train them and get them involved to target the jobs that are going unfilled?" he said, adding that there are hundreds of jobs going unfilled

"Let's find a way to look for those skills that are underserved," he continued. "We have this pool of young people who are skilled and underemployed. Match them up and get those young folks into those jobs that can pay them more in the future."

Education, Briseno adds, is a major component in addressing jobs. The SAHCC endorsed the Pre-K for SA Program proposed by Mayor Julian Castro that now increases the city's sales tax rate by one-eighth of 1 percent to go toward prekindergarten students. The voters approved the increase to ensure 4-year-olds who are in prekindergarten classes will be able to have a full day school as opposed to just a half day.

"The goal behind that is to have a firmer base for our young people," Briseno said, "so they can get a better education base and do better in school, be able to get into high school and college and proceed in pursuing careers in the future."

Lastly, Briseno plans to recognize Hispanics who have made strides in San Antonio and throughout the country.

"It took a lot of hard work and overcoming a lot of obstacles, and I think it's important to remember a legacy of how we got there," he said, adding that he wants to create a legacy committee to document touchstones.

"(I want to) celebrate where we are and continue to move forward in the future so we can build on that success and provide that base for our children and grandchildren," he continued, "but at the same time remember, recognize and acknowledge the efforts of the folks that made those sacrifices 30 to 50 years ago in a special way."

The SAHCC is the longest-serving Hispanic chamber of commerce in the U.S. and has about 950 members.

Source: (c) 2013. All rights reserved.

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