After 47 years, Chamber Remains ‘Vital’ to Community, celebrates at Gala

By David Taylor
Managing Editor

With the 47th Annual Chamber Gala set for January 19, Margie Buentello is encouraging businesses to join the North Channel Area Chamber of Commerce. The director, who led the organization through some of its toughest years during the pandemic, is reminding area businesses, industry, and individuals that there are benefits to a chamber of commerce membership.

Just a couple of short weeks away, the North Channel Area Chamber of Commerce is preparing for its annual Awards and Installation gala. Set for Friday, January 19, 2024, the social hour begins at 6:30 p.m. and dinner is served at 7:00 p.m. The event will be at the celebrated new Hyatt Regency in Baytown at 100 Convention Center Way.

“Chambers of Commerce play an important role in not only the development of our nation and state, but obviously our community and every chamber is unique—no chamber is identical,” Buentello said.

She pointed out that they all have similar goals and perform similar duties like ribbon cuttings, golf tournaments, galas, and after-hours networking, but they also play the role of advocate for their community.

“We not only advocate locally, but statewide and federally to ensure that the community receives projects, funding and completion of items needed,” she said.

During Hurricane Harvey and COVID, Buentello said they tried to provide their member businesses resources to apply for PPP and small business loans, learn how to maneuver their business through the pandemic, and in some cases, help with online resources.

“We had to learn skills ourselves with Zoom and host meetings online,” she said.

All of that is made difficult because the North Channel Area Chamber of Commerce doesn’t have the typical one school district in its boundaries, but three including Galena Park, Channelview, and Sheldon.

“We are not afforded a centralized government like so many have as a city,” she said. “So much of our area relies on us to get them the help and attention they need for projects.”

Buentello also expressed her joy in the North Channel community for their response to dire circumstances and being overcomers.

“I know we weren’t the only chamber concerned about losing members, and some around the area did, but we actually gained members during COVID,” she said.

She believes they were seeking assistance with their business to find ways to market their business and pivot in the face of extreme conditions.

“It really didn’t hurt us financially either, but what was difficult was reinventing the way we conducted business,” she said.

Operating in the unknown gave her plenty of sleepless nights.

“It affected a lot of businesses, some more than others, but we worked to be a help to them,” she said.

Buentello said they also work with neighborhoods and their county liaisons make sure streetlights are repaired, and this year, they adopted a road to keep clean.

“Last year, we adopted Woodforest through a county program. They provide the supplies and the vests, and garbage bags and we go out there at least twice a year to work on our street,” she said.

Buentello also encouraged community organizations to participate in the program and offered to help them get in touch with the county officials to get them started.

“We act like city hall in the place of one, to help citizens facilitate the issues they face in our community,” she said.

It’s not too late to purchase a ticket to the annual awards banquet, and Buentello would like non-members to come and see what the chamber is all about.

“This will be a fun night and not boring by any stretch of the imagination,” she said.

Most years, the chamber invites a special guest to speak to the business community, but this year, they will host a dance with the music of Adrian Michael and The Greenway Band to accompany the party.

“They play just about every style of music really well, and they were a big hit last year,” she said, “so this year we decided to have a dance instead of a speaker.”

Michael is a former American Idol contestant, and the band plays pop, folk, country, rock, R&B, jazz, and much more.

Tickets are $100 and rooms at the hotel can be reserved with special pricing by using Group Code: G-NC47. Tickets reserved after Jan. 9 will be charged a 20 percent surcharge.

For more information or to buy a ticket, call 713- 450-3600 and speak to