Chamber Host Annual Medical Student Reception
The Odessa Chamber of Commerce recently gave a big West Texas welcome to 29 Third-year medical students entering Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at the Permian Basin School of Medicine on Thursday, May 11th. This is an annual reception put on by the Odessa Chamber of Commerce and co-sponsored by Medical Center Health System. With a growing population, the Permian Basin needs more doctors, and it is the hope of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce that these talented young transplants will make Odessa their permanent home.
The Incoming 3rd Year Medical Students Are:
Erin Adams – Dallas, TX
Kofi Agyare – Fort Worth, TX
Kimberly Brown – Lubbock, TX
Adilene Chapina-Guizar – El Paso, TX
Brinkley Cover– Rockwall, TX
Zarif Gani – Jacksonville, FL
Donald Garnsey – Harvey, MI
Lauren Glover – Aledo, TX
Kanishk Goel – League City, TX
Nikhil Gogineni – New Orleans, LA
Beth Green – Baton Rouge, LA
Nadjaliette Hernandez-Lopez – Puerto Rico/Copperas Cove, TX
Daniel Ho – Houston, TX
Cameron Huddleston – Aledo, TX
Jacob James – Haslet, TX
Lyndsay Johnston – Amarillo, TX
Megan Mai – Pearland, TX
Jesse Neely – Lubbock, TX
Robin Okpara – Sugar Land, TX
Radha Patel – Odessa, TX
Kirie Psaromatis – Flower Mound, TX
Nicole Remmert – Willis, TX
Austin Rodgers – Graham, TX
Meron Tesfaye – Ethiopia/Dallas, TX
Kelly Trinh – Houston, TX
Carina Vasquez – El Paso, TX
Jesse York – Midland, TX
Lina Zhang – Memphis, TN
Christopher Zias – Lubbock, TX
The Odessa Chamber of Commerce releases their 2021-2022 Annual Report
Chamber Board of Directors Votes To Endorse ECISD Bond Propositions
The Board of Directors of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce recently voted to endorse the ECISD Bond Proposal A and Proposal B. This action came after extensive presentations from ECISD Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri and Odessans for Education PAC members Lorraine Perryman and Lisa Wyman.
The Board’s Decision to support these two Bond Proposals was based on in-depth research and findings that resulted in information showing the overwhelming need for support of both of these Proposals. The Chamber of Commerce Board is well aware of the need for an influx of an upskilled workforce. Over the past ten years, our community has experienced unparalleled growth. In addition, several large new companies will soon call Ector County home, requiring employment numbers in the thousands, which will break the previous growth records. “We must not only prepare our students for the future job needs and demands, but we must also make sure they are fully equipped with the proper skill sets that will be needed by our current and future employers. That requires repair and upgrades to our aging infrastructure, facilities and technology, as well as providing a state-of-the-art Career & Technical Education Center that will provide our employers with graduates who are career ready. After all, our students deserve the best and as a community, we must strive for an academic setting of excellence,” said Jim Cox, Chair of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
Secondly, our two major High Schools in Odessa are exceedingly overcrowded, depriving our students of a safe, secure and learning atmosphere every student deserves. Odessa has not built a new high school since 1959 and that does not align with the overall excellence that we feel our students, families and employers should demand. We are decades past the need for a new high school.
“Our needs are great. As time goes on, the price tags to meet these needs increase. Putting off the inevitable is not going to make it any cheaper. We must act now and VOTE YES on both propositions. The students deserve this, our community’s future demands this and our future success depends on this,” added Cox.
The Chamber Board is comprised of 30 board members, elected by the membership of more than 740 companies and organizations making up more than 27,000 employees. Election Day is May 7th with early voting starting on April 25th. We encourage all registered voters to have their voices heard.
25 Creative Ways to Bring More Attention to Your Business
Do you need more attention? Do you feel like your business isn’t top of mind in your community? People won’t buy from you if they don’t think of you. While the easiest way to increase sales is to upsell existing/current customers, the second-best way is increased exposure. These days—to stand out—you need to get creative. Here are a few ideas to help get your business the attention it deserves without breaking your budget.
- Host a contest on social media.
- Sponsor a chamber event.
- Start a Facebook group in an area that interests your ideal target market. Real estate agents, for instance, might start a group based on community happenings.
- Write an eBook showcasing your talents, special knowledge, or expertise. Give it away.
- Host a class at your local library.
- Celebrate a national day with a giveaway (like a free drink with every slice of pizza on National Pizza Day).
- Be a guest on a local podcast.
- Write a guest blog for a site that is popular with your target market.
- Set up your Google My Business page.
- If you are a service provider, look for ways to attach your company name to your work. For instance, a painter may ask the homeowner if they may place a sign in their yard while the work is completed. Some companies offer discounts for that.
- Place an advertising wrap or window cling on your car.
- Advertise in a program for a large graduation or popular community event.
- Email past customers and those who have shown interest in you. Send them deals.
- Create a VIP group that receives special benefits for a minimal investment (like free shipping).
- Pay for search results.
- Use targeting on social media ads.
- Host a party or open house at your place of business. Offer door prizes, swag, and/or free food.
- Purchase a chambertising ad or directory placement.
- Get your business added to the local tourist map.
- Ask for referrals. Answer reviews on review sites.
- Create cool swag and give it away to employees, partners, and vendors—walking billboards.
- Post to local Facebook groups. Be solutions oriented.
- Create video content showing off your business. Bonus points if you can entertain your audience, not just provide good information.
- Purchase website ads.
- Create a text offers list (with your customer’s permission, of course) and text out flash deals.
Marketing needn’t be expensive. If it provides good return on investment by bringing in more money than it costs, it’s invaluable. With these ideas you can play around with the right mix to find what works for you and provides good return and conversions.
It’s Time to Start Talking Cybersecurity
At the risk of sounding like Chicken Little (you know the one who runs around talking about the sky falling) the current global “go-ings on” are the closest we’ll ever get to advanced warning that cybersecurity is something every business needs to worry about. Big or small, selling globally or just in your tiny town, if you do anything online, your data is in (potential) jeopardy.
Here are the things you need to do now. Seriously.
Invest in Protection
While there are many articles out there that will tell you small ways businesses are at risk, it’s important to know that cybersecurity is something you will now have to consider as part of your business’ annual budget. Running updates as soon as they come out isn’t enough protection. Storing data in the cloud, isn’t enough if those cloud companies get hacked. Making sure your virus protection is in place…while all these things are good, they aren’t enough anymore.
You need to speak with a cybersecurity expert. Rest assured a good expert will offer a customized plan for your business and work within your budget. But cybersecurity is now something you will have to budget for as a line item. Move toward that now.
Don’t Ignore Warnings
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and FBI have issued warnings over the past two months about the imminent threats of destructive malware aimed at organizations with dealings in the Ukraine. However, the agencies believe it is only a matter of time before American businesses (with no connections to that area of the world) are targeted too.
The actions that CISA/FBI urge companies to act on as soon as possible (meaning today, start these things today) include:
- Set antivirus and antimalware programs to conduct regular scans.
- Enable strong spam filters to prevent phishing emails from reaching end users.
- Filter network traffic.
- Update software.
- Require multifactor authentication.
- Use strong passwords, single use only (not the same ones across every site you access), and change them often. Set your machines to require it.
- Regularly backup data offline. Yes, a few years ago we were told cloud was everything. Now we stress redundancies. Do both.
- Implement network segmentation. You don’t want to give access to everything through one “door.”
- Work with a professional to draft a recovery plan.
- Require credentials to install software.
- Configure access controls with “least privilege” in mind. If your employee doesn’t need it, don’t give them access.
- Consider a VPN. Over the last several years, it’s become increasingly easy to access machines and log in to work from home. It was essential to work during COVID. But now that easy access can cause big problems.
- Disable hyperlinks in emails.
- Train your employees on cybersecurity and potential threats. Even savvy employees can be tricked by coincidences. For instance, an email from “Federal Express” when they’re expecting a package can cause a lapse in judgment. While they may not normally click on something suspect like an attachment in an email, in this example it seemed legitimate because it fit into their world/expectations at that moment.
If you’re not sure where to turn to start working on these things—and you don’t have an IT department—check with your local chamber. They often know of resources in the area and cybersecurity experts who can walk you through what you need to know. Also, read the Cyber Essential Resources for Small Business from CISA. It will help you decide where to start and how to begin cyber security implementation to keep you and your customers safe.
Don’t wait for something terrible to befall your organization (and this goes for nonprofits, too. Your lists could be very valuable). If you conduct any sort of business online or have any lists or data on your computer or in the cloud, you need to investigate the necessary level of protection and begin a plan for implementation. Once malware strikes, even large companies with huge budgets are helpless.
This is a business threat that you need to be proactive about. Being reactive to this threat is the same as doing nothing and that just won’t do.