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COASTAL BEND MAGAZINE

BUSINESS AND COMMUNITY

CONTINUING THE LEGACY CHURCH'S CHICKEN CELEBRATING EXCELLENCE THE 2018 “BEST IN THE BIZ” AWARDS

EVOLVING TIMES

THE PORTOF CORPUS CHRISTI

JAN/FEB 2019 I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M

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The Reserve at Dancing Elk is Under New Management

Yvette Terrell-Johnson New Venue Coordinator/Sales & Marketing 361-946-4812 | YvetteJ.DancingElk@gmail.com Chef Angela M. Gomez | 361-229-3338 ChefGomez75@yahoo.com

313 County Road 351 | Mathis, TX 78368 | Conveniently Located Off Interstate 37 www.thereserveatdancingelk.com

@ thereserveatdancingelk I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M

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HERE’S TO AN AMAZING YEAR, AND A PROSPEROUS 2019. Together, we’re thriving. The Port of Corpus Christi proudly celebrates a year of advancement and success for our community. With continued job growth, new business opportunities and more partnerships, our Coastal Bend is thriving more than ever. Thank you for being a part of this.

connect with us: portofcc.com

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when you land, you’re home WHY ... COMMUTE? WAIT IN LINE? GET STUCK IN TRAFFIC?

SOUTHWEST | UNITED | AMERICAN | WWW.FLYCCIA.COM I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M

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CONTENTS JANUARY.FEBRUARY 2019

20 COVER STORY THE PORT OF CORPUS CHRISTI Port leaders work together to continue the successful organization’s momentum and usher in exciting new changes for the Coastal Bend.

28 PROFILE CHURCH’S CHICKEN From local business to fourth-largest chicken restaurant chain in the world, this multinational company continues to grow and serve its communities.

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UNITED CORPUS CHRISTI CHAMBER THE 2018 “BEST IN THE BIZ” AWARDS The United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce honors the “Best in the Biz” at this five-star celebration of excellence.

BUSINESS COACH 10 Protect Yourself! SPECIAL FEATURE 12 Winning the Game FEATURES 14 Staffing Strategies 16 Sweet Deals MONEY MATTERS 40 Roth vs. Traditional 401(k) 42 Get Ready! ENERGY 44 Christmas on the Coast REAL ESTATE 46 Cost Crisis

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COVER AND TABLE OF CONTENTS PHOTOS BY: TWINS MEDIA

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TRAVEL 48 Ready. Set. Takeoff! TASTE 50 Healthy and Delicious NONPROFIT 52 Wave of Change


THE TEAM STELLAR family seeks success both personally and professionally. When it comes to electricity, we will find the most cost-effective solutions custom tailored to our customers’ business needs. This will allow our clients to free up time and money and work on their own definitions of success. -TIM CLARK, PRESIDENT

WANT A CHEAPER ELECTRIC BILL? Why Choose us: Our customers come first. The Stellar Energy Solutions and Hudson Energy support team is made up of people who understand the industry and care deeply about helping you in every way. We are here for you.

 Dynamic Pricing: We have several clear advantages over other suppliers, including market experience and purchasing power, which add up to more value for your business.

 Environmentally Sound: We see the big picture. As an industry leader, it’s our responsibility to explore green energy product options and offer affordable ways for companies to reduce their environmental impact.

 Energy Advisors: Our team of industry specialists will work with you to create an energy solution that meets all of your company's needs from budget to rollout and support.

 Fully Integrated Partnership: Stellar Energy Solutions partners with Hudson Energy because our business values align. There is a mutual trust in our white glove approach to serving your business needs.

361.884.8973 | www.stellarnrgsolutions.com

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MEET THE STAFF COASTAL BEND MAGAZINE

BUSINESS AND COMMUNITY

JANUARY.FEBRUARY 2019 PUBLISHER & SALES

ADRIAN GARZA PUBLISHER & SALES adrian@inspirecoastalbendmag.com 361.548.1044

Adrian Garza

PUBLISHER & OPERATIONS Holly Lewis

EDITOR Erin O’Brien

ART DIRECTOR Elisa Giordano

SOCIAL MEDIA Morgan Bartel

HOLLY LEWIS PUBLISHER & OPERATIONS holly@inspirecoastalbendmag.com 479.935.0868

ERIN O'BRIEN EDITOR erin.editorial@gmail.com

ELISA GIORDANO ART DIRECTOR elisa@inspirecoastalbendmag.com 210.716.5320

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Mandy Ashcraft Kim Bridger-Hunt Dr. Coral Dworaczyk Carey Jacqueline Gonzalez Tammy Bell Hammond Linda Jordan Kate Kimberlin Samantha Koepp-Stemplinger Connie Laughlin Kelly Trevino Sarona Winfrey

PHOTOGRAPHY Dustin Ashcraft TWINS Media

www.inspirecoastalbendmag.com For advertising information, please call 361.548.1044 or email adrian@inspirecoastalbendmag.com. For editorial comments and suggestions, please call 479.935.0868 or email holly@inspirecoastalbendmag.com.

MORGAN BARTEL SOCIAL MEDIA morgan@inspirecoastalbendmag.com 620.417.5392

PELICAN

MEDIA GROUP

Copyright 2019 © Inspire Coastal Bend Magazine. All rights reserved. Reproduction without the expressed written permission of the publisher is prohibited.


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PUBLISHER’S NOTE

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ew Year, New You.” That motto infiltrates our brain right after we finish our first helping of Thanksgiving dinner. ‘Tis the season for getting all of our resolutions in line. We’ve all made them: lose weight, work out, prioritize, volunteer, travel, get out of debt, quit smoking, quit drinking ... the list goes on and on. So why is it so hard for us to keep them? I often wonder: Should we even make them at all? I’ve always been a resolution maker with the best of intentions. Losing weight and getting healthy always tops my list (of course, this probably should be a priority for the majority of the 40-plus crowd, at least the “get healthy” part of it). Last year I resolved to do a 5k every month (inspired by our friend, Chairman Todd Hunter), yet failed to do even one. (You are still an inspiration, Chairman.) There have been so many for me in the past 43 years that I’ve lost track, and still, I cannot recall really sticking to a single one long-term. Am I just lazy? Or do I set up unrealistic resolutions and, thus, set myself up to fail? Instead of inspiration, they become enormous commitments that require a lot of time and planning and don’t really make a whole lot of sense. Ah, but this year, I have a better idea! So I have decided my New Year’s resolution is to be uplifting and considerate of others. Yep, that’s it. We are all equipped to do this; no gym membership is required – no expensive seminar or cessation classes. It’s quite simple (though not always easy). I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and it seems to resonate everywhere. People need to be lifted up! Why can’t we all be confident and know our self-worth? Well, I think we all know the answer to that.

If we commit the time and energy to encourage others and start recognizing that we are all only human – spending less time mud-slinging, patronizing and tearing each other apart because of different beliefs – just imagine what we could do ... as a community, a state, a country! Would it possibly have an impact? I believe “yes!” Yes, it most certainly would. Perhaps my resolution is a bit idyllic, but I am convinced that this time, it is not unrealistic. I know this is the one I can truly put the action behind without feeling “obligated” to keep it. Maybe because I have discovered that my resolution is not about me at all. Maybe because when I’ve resolved to lose weight, save money or do a 5k every month, the only person I was committing to was me. Yet, it is about me, too; it’s about filling my cup in this upcoming 2019 year, knowing I can do my part even if it is just a tiny little piece to the puzzle of mankind. I hope you will make a New Year’s resolution this year, too. Feel free to share in mine. God bless!

Holly Lewis, Publisher holly@inspirecoastalbendmag.com

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BUSINESS COACH

How to avoid becoming a member of the #MeAlso group By: CONNIE LAUGHLIN

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ortune 500 companies have been preaching the rules and regulations prohibiting sexual harassment since the 1980s. That takes me back to the day when sexually explicit jokes were commonly told in the office and girlie calendars hung in company workshops. This sort of appalling behavior ran rampant until corporate America started receiving lawsuits left and right. Today, if you’re not addressing sexual harassment in your office, you apparently work alone! As we watched in the Judge Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court case, we saw how a person’s life hangs in the balance while an inves-

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tigation goes on and on, how one’s livelihood can be ruined and how one’s reputation can be forever smeared by false allegations of sexual misconduct. While a person can be falsely accused, it goes without saying that having appropriate workplace programs in place, sexual harassment training and a zero-tolerance policy surely helps in the defense of your business. Develop a company-wide understanding of what’s considered sexual harassment, and harbor a workplace of zero tolerance. Training should include the tip that there’s also zero tolerance for false accusations, and that termination could be warranted for anyone falsely accusing another employee. No jokes!

CONNIE LAUGHLIN is a business consultant for UniqueHR. For more information, you may contact her at 361-852-6392, 800-8248367 or conniel@uniquehr.com.

FURE/BIGSTOCK.COM

PROTECT YOURSELF!

Learn to immediately apologize if you say something that could be taken in an offensive manner. Know your coworkers’ personalities and sensitivities, and act accordingly. In 1980, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidelines defining sex harassment as ‘”unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature” when they either are a condition of employment or become so much a part of the work environment that they interfere with a person’s ability to perform. Informative facts about sexual harassment can be found at www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/fs-sex. cfm. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and labor organizations, as well as the federal government. However, it shouldn’t matter if your business has under or over 15 employees – sexual harassment policies should be in place to protect your employees and your company. Is your employee handbook up-to-date? Have all employees been through a sexual harassment training program? It happens! The study conducted in 2016, “Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace,” by EEOC (link below) showed that 1 in 4 women will be the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace. This is a conservative statistic, considering the study saw anywhere from 25 to 85 percent of women having been the victim of workplace sexual harassment. EEOC also estimates that 75 percent of those who are victims of these hostile work environments will not report their harassment. For a detailed report, refer to https://www.eeoc.gov/ eeoc/task_force/harassment/upload/report.pdf. Protect yourself from being harassed or misunderstood, or becoming one of the falsely accused. Here are some personal policies to consider: Do not consume alcohol with coworkers or in the workplace, or strictly limit consumption to one drink. Do not discuss personal stuff at work. Do not comment on coworkers’ looks. Do not date coworkers, and only attend functions in groups of three or more.


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SPECIAL FEATURE

WINNING THE GAME Meet Trey Clark, certified cool guy and man of many talents. By: TAMMY BELL HAMMOND

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y name is Trey Clark – perhaps you’ve never heard of me.” This tonguein-cheek joke is one of Trey Clark’s favorites. If you’ve never heard of Clark, perhaps you haven’t been paying attention. He pulls it off with such charm that it is impossible to ignore. A professional musician for the past 25 years, Clark is the lead singer/guitarist/songwriter in his own band and has shared the stage with some of the greats. Among fellow Texas musicians, he’s known as a “shredder” on both his Martin acoustic and Telecaster. He takes no backseat to other guitarists, but his humble charm was exemplified when he won best guitarist in a local Houston magazine a few years ago. He says, “I’m not even the best guitarist in my own band.” Among the restaurant community and his friends, Clark is known for the best steaks and the best gumbo in Texas. He helped pay for his kitchen training by running 9-Ball tables until his opponents came to realize losing wasn’t much fun. He recently teamed up with other Houston chefs to donate food along the Texas Gulf Coast after a hurricane. Don’t assume anything about Clark. He studies and photographs the night sky on every clear night. He can hold his own with experts in the subjects of quantum mechanics, vortex math and “Star Wars” trivia, and he still can be the funniest guy in the room. Combine his quick wit and off-the-wall humor with a guitar, and Clark owns the room. His stories are notorious, some of which were recently published in his book, “I Love You More than Vodka,” a title he borrowed from wildlife photographer, Matt Hubbard, who wrote the forward. Clark won’t swear all the

stories are true, but his accomplices in each chapter appreciate that he used no last names. Clark got to tell his stories along a 533-mile bicycle ride from Houston to New Orleans to help raise funds for the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. He rode the entire way on a mountain bike. “All of the experienced cyclists looked at me like I was riding an ostrich,” Clark quips. The six-day ride ended at camp each night where Clark then cooked for the entire cycling team. After entertaining in typical “Trey style” midweek, fellow cyclists clamored to ride next to the cool guy. Clark seems to have no fear. “I find my love in life, then I figure out how to get paid doing it.” His road less traveled has taken an interesting new turn. “A few years ago, I asked myself, What would I do if money didn’t matter? Dogs!” Always a dog-lover, Clark and his band used to sneak Lucy, his companion of 15 years, into shows and hotels. Now his sidekick is Brown Dog, a labradoodle Clark swears is more famous than he is. “Next to my wife, Brown Dog may be the purest soul ever to walk the earth,” he says. “I love hearing people in public shout, ‘Brown Dog!’ even more than I love hearing my own name called out.” Clark lives on the Gulf Coast with his wife, Susan, his three children, Brown Dog, a rescue dog named Tess and one or two other dogs he is probably training at any given time. According to Susan, “By the time my alarm goes off at 6 a.m., Trey has worked with the dogs, written a song and recorded a podcast in his office studio. In fact, his least favorite question from a stranger is, ‘What do you do for a living?’ It takes too

long to answer!” His children are all following in his footsteps – with music and dogs. “My footsteps better get faster!” Clark jokes. “My kids are already passing me up. They are great with dogs and can all read music. I can only play by ear and number charts. I even got fired from the symphony when I turned the pages at the wrong time. You can’t fool conductors!” A smile creeps over his face as Clark says, “Over the years, I’ve gotten to pay my bills playing music and writing books. And now I get paid to play with puppies! I think I’m winning the game!” These days, you can find this larger-than-life musician, chef, author, thinker, photographer, astronomer, entertainer and dog-trainer around Texas – usually with Brown Dog in tow. You can download his music, books, videos and podcasts from all the usual sites. And you can always find Clark on social media. If you are lucky enough to catch Clark at one of his band’s shows or one of his dog-training clinics, make sure to say hello and tell him, “Trey Clark! Perhaps I’ve heard of you!”

TAMMY BELL HAMMOND is a public relations consultant with an eye for talent and a heart for Brown Dog. For more information, you may text Trey Clark at 832-498-7290.

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FEATURE

STAFFING STRATEGIES

How to make the best hires to support growth for your business in 2019

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tarting, running and growing a business comes with many challenges. When at first you might have struggled to get customers in the door, now you may have more work than your current staff can even handle. Facing each of these trials successfully and having the right people on staff is vital to the ultimate growth your company. Not being prepared for the growth of your business invites poor staffing decisions that ultimately lead to negative business growth and expansion. The first staffing strategy is creating a pipeline of qualified candidates. Most companies that experience business growth and expansion will be forced to make quick staffing decisions. For example, your company has just landed a major account that you have been pushing to get, which is very exciting! However, do you have the staffing resources in place that you need to get the job done? Building a pipeline of qualified candidates ahead of time will help you avoid making the snap hiring decisions that you may later come to regret. It is important to remember that

sustaining the growth of your company takes time to learn and perfect. You should not expect to hire the perfect candidate in every instance. Some level of turnover is natural and normal; however, solid pipelines can help you stay on track and keep up your level of growth. In order to determine exactly what is needed in your pipeline, it is important to analyze your current staff. Are you going to be able to promote from within? Looking at your own staff requires a realistic analysis of their skill sets. Can you see that certain employees who, if they were promoted or given additional responsibilities, would not only thrive, but succeed in helping the business achieve the growth it is looking for? Promoting internally not only saves hiring costs, but also boosts employee morale and work ethic. All staffing strategies should include a comprehensive plan to enrich and educate your current staff members. Make sure you have a plan in place to educate them that will, in turn, make them more valuable assets for your company. Looking at and seeing if they qualify for any certifications would be a great way to increase their value for you.

IN ORDER TO DETERMINE EXACTLY WHAT IS NEEDED IN YOUR PIPELINE, IT IS IMPORTANT TO ANALYZE YOUR CURRENT STAFF.

If you feel like these strategies may be overwhelming, utilizing the services of a staffing firm can offer safety and flexibility. Using temporary or temp-to-hire employees can give your business a more fluid staffing situation. Ensuring candidates are able to successfully handle the position and positively contribute to the work environment is so important. Equally important is doing everything in your power to avoid a bad hire. A staffing firm takes away a lot of the headaches, energy and time that go into recruiting. They often handle the application process, interviewing, screening and salary negotiation. This guarantees that you are able to get your staffing needs addressed quickly and efficiently so you are able to get on with growing your business. In any of these strategies, businesses need to plan ahead and formulate a staffing plan. By gaining a strong understanding of the financial state of your business, what you’re currently capable of and your realistic business goals based on the long-term prospects for your industry, you will get a sense of which strategy will serve you best, moving forward.

L.K. Jordan & Associates has offices in Corpus Christi, Houston, San Antonio and Austin. We offer both temporary and professional placement assistance. Call 361-814-9700 to be directed to a staffing specialist in any of those areas, or visit our website at www.lkjordan.com.

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LEOWOLFERT/BIGSTOCK.COM

By: LINDA JORDAN


Every business is different. We get that. That’s why we provide unique investment levels, designed to help you right where you are. Don’t just take our word for it.

Research Shows... Consumers are 63% more likely to buy from a business that is a Chamber member. Companies enjoy a 49% increase in consumer favorability rating for being a member of the Chamber.

Membership is valuable & affordable, with investment starting at less than $42 per month

Consumers are 73% more likely to be highly aware of a business if it is a member of the Chamber, and 68% more likely to think positively of its local reputation. 7/10 consumers believe that being actively involved in the Chamber is an effective strategy for enhancing a business’ reputation and for demonstrating that it uses good business practices. Source: Shapiro Group, Atlanta, GA

The United Corpus Christi Chamber is your... PARTNER IN PROMOTION

Increase your visibility, get the word out, gain access to cost-effective and often free advertising for your business.

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United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce 602 N. Staples Street, St. 150 Corpus Christi, TX 78401

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(361) 881-1800

BUSINESS ADVOCATE

For more information on Chamber membership contact Efrain Franco,

We are your voice on issues that affect business and we maintain direct contact with leaders in all levels of government. When you need change, we make change happen.

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WWW.UNITEDCORPUSCHRISTICHAMBER.COM I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M

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SWEET DEALS

The New Year rings in new shopping and dining options at La Palmera. By: SARONA WINFREY

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nother year has passed, and with the New Year comes new shopping and dining options at La Palmera. January is traditionally a busy time, as shoppers redeem gift cards received over the holidays and take advantage of post-holiday sales. This year, they will have new options while hitting the mall. As planned redevelopment work continues on the 1-million-squarefoot center, Dave & Buster’s has now opened near the mall’s main entrance. This is the first Coastal Bend location for Dave & Buster’s, the first new tenant announced as part of La Palmera’s planned expansion, which started in fall of 2017. The approximately 18,000-square-foot restaurant and gaming center is located near JCPenney, offering guests a combination of the latest state-of-theart games, ultimate sports-viewing on massive HDTVs with stadium sound, extraordinary food from wings to steaks and remarkable drinks.

“Dave & Buster’s is a great addition to La Palmera,” said Fred Walters, vice president and general manager of La Palmera. “It’s exciting to have this whole new element of dining and entertainment available for our guests, and it’s the first of many such options we’ll be announcing as part of our ongoing mall redevelopment.” Hollister Co. also opened its first Coastal Bend location just before the holidays. Known as the global retail brand celebrating the spirit of endless summer, the new 5,044-square-foot store is located on the mall’s Center Court adjacent to White House | Black Market, offering shoppers its popular styles inspired by California’s laidback attitude. “We know our shoppers are pleased with the many new additions we were able to bring them in 2018, which also included Kendra Scott and Steak ‘n Shake,” Walters said. “It’s always exciting to bring new elements to the mix for our guests, and we expect to be making

DAVE & BUSTER’S IS A GREAT ADDITION TO LA PALMERA.”

more announcements in the near future as part of our ongoing mall redevelopment.” With more than 100 retail and dining options under one roof, shoppers can also find their heart’s desire for Valentine’s Day, which is just around the corner. Whatever your taste, you’ll find a variety of tasty date-night choices, including P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, LongHorn Steakhouse, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria and Chili’s Grill & Bar at La Palmera. And for added convenience, valet parking is available at the mall’s main entrance between P.F. Chang’s and Grimaldi’s. Guests using the valet on Valentine’s Day will also receive a complimentary rose, while supplies last. Be sure to stop by Hallmark or Things Remembered for the perfect Valentine’s keepsake. If your sweetheart is partial to sweets, head to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory or Bourbon Street Candy Co. for an amazing assortment of chocolate treats, including gourmet chocolates and freshly dipped strawberries, guaranteed to please. Perhaps you need something even more special for that special someone. You’ll find a number of fine jewelers, including Gordon’s Jewelers, Kay Jewelers, Pandora, Reeds Jewelers, Salem’s Jewelers and Zales. Treating the special lady in your life to a shopping spree is also a great idea. Bring her to Michael Kors, francesca’s, White House | Black Market, Coach or Aldo for one-of-a-kind clothing, handbags, shoes and accessories. And ladies, don’t forget about your favorite guy. Express Men, Dillard’s Macy’s and JCPenney have a full line of great options for men. Of course, you can’t go wrong with a La Palmera gift card, which can be redeemed at most retail and dining locations throughout the mall. Available in amounts from $10 to $500, the cards may be purchased at the mall’s concierge.

For more information on La Palmera, go online to www.lapalmera.com, visit us on Facebook or call 361-991-3755.

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STYLE-PHOTOGRAPHS /BIGSTOCK.COM, JONATHAN WEISS/BIGSTOCK.COM

FEATURE


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6th Annual Birthday Celebration Join Us in Celebrating the Memory and Accomplishments of

Dr. Hector P. Garcia Thursday, January 17, 2019 American Bank Center - Henry Garrett Ballroom 11:15 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Featuring Special Guest Speaker

Dr. Mark Escamilla, President Del Mar College Sponsorships, tickets and tables Anna M. Flores at (361) 241-4535 Information Cecilia Garcia-Akers at (210) 415-5396 or Jim Akers at (210) 508-0824 18

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Your One Stop Destination Venue for Live Music & Sports Entertainment on the South Side Like us On Facebook for daily specials and events

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3-7PM: $3.50 TITO’S & JACK DANIELS, $2.50 DOMESTIC DRAFTS MONDAY $3 PINT NIGHT, 21 BEERS ON TAP TUESDAY $3.50 CALL DRINKS WEDNESDAY $3.50 PREMIUM WHISKEY

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SUNDAY, $2.50 WELL, $2.50 DOMESTIC DRAFTS

6601 Everhart Road • Corpus Christi, TX 78413 • 361.814.2010 Monday-Sunday 3pm - 2am www.southtexasicehouse.com

I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M

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COVER STORY

G N I R E H US F O A R E AN S S E R G O PR 20

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The Port of Corpus Christi is shipping in new changes for the Coastal Bend. By: Jacqueline Gonzalez Photos by: TWINS Media

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ean Strawbridge, CEO of the Port of Corpus Christi, and John LaRue, special advisor to the commission, are working diligently toward a brighter and more progressive future for Corpus Christi. Strawbridge and LaRue have embraced new challenges as they transition into new roles.

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As Strawbridge is quick to point out, he inherited a successful port when LaRue passed the torch, as he stepped down from his position as CEO to prepare for retirement. The transition for both leaders was seamless, and they continue to work together to work toward a greater Corpus Christi. The port has been involved in various projects during the 23 years under LaRue’s leadership, including the development of the Solomon P. Ortiz International Center into an events center, the new Harbor Bridge project and the increase of oil being exported rather than imported. Due to these and many other accomplishments, it is the fourth largest port by tonnage and the No. 1 crude oil export port in the United States. LaRue is proud of all these accomplishments, and is confident that this success will continue to grow under Strawbridge’s leadership. When Strawbridge became CEO on Jan. 1, 2018, he made it his mission to continue the Port of Corpus Christi’s momentum by filling the already successful shoes of the previous leadership. To run a successful organization, a CEO should focus on three main areas: finance, team and executing the plan. Strawbridge notes that from a financial standpoint, a CEO must ensure the organization is equipped to be financially healthy. A focus is placed on how money is spent, how much is brought in and how much should be borrowed to invest in infrastructure. An overall good fiscal health signals long-term success and sustainability for the organization. Strawbridge also focuses on creating a culture in the workplace; having the right people in the right positions, while providing support and training to do the jobs they’ve been hired to do, is imperative. “We’re trying to create a can-do organization – a meritocracy, where people adhere to our core values, which are established by leadership.” Most importantly, Strawbridge focuses on executing the plan. “I’m a results-oriented manager; I like tangibles and analytics,” he states. “After all, a plan without an execution is just a dream.” While Strawbridge continues to set the strategy for his organization, he doesn’t fail to credit his predecessor, John LaRue. “The person who held the position before you usually isn’t there. Often, you don’t have the same context, insight or history because they aren’t there to guide you, elevate you or share with you.” Strawbridge and LaRue have always worked in tandem; and now, as LaRue prepares for his retirement, he continues to graciously provide council, context and guidance to Strawbridge. Strawbridge feels that LaRue’s support has helped make him more successful in his first year of taking over as the CEO, along with the team they’ve both put together.

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Core Values of the Port of Corpus Christi: SEAPORT       

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Safety Empowerment Accountability Preparedness Optimism Respect Teamwork

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The Port of Corpus Christi won the “Deal of the Year” award at the Lloyd’s List Americas Awards gala in Houston, Texas, on May 23, 2018, in recognition for its lease agreement with Gulf Coast Growth Ventures (GCGV) Asset Holding LLC, which authorizes a 13-acre multipurpose cargo dock and a 35-acre marine terminal facility at the Port of Corpus Christi. Finalists were chosen by a panel of experts and industry executives from across the Americas.

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Meanwhile, as LaRue prepares for the last six months before retirement, he is focusing on outreach within the community. His position as special advisor to the commission allows him to worry less about administrative tasks, and place a steadier focus on outreach to building up the level of support. Improving the quality of life and quality of place is a priority for Strawbridge and LaRue. Both gentlemen strive to attract new industries and implement much-needed changes so that residents look forward to staying in Corpus Christi. “Corpus Christi is a great place to live,” Strawbridge says. “The commute to work is significantly less than in other cities, allowing for less time on the road and more time with family, friends and colleagues.” Strawbridge and LaRue are aware of the many bright new minds and new ideas coming together, and feel that Corpus Christi is on the path to great changes. The Port of Corpus Christi plays an integral role in the economic growth of the Coastal Bend region. They’ve got several projects underway to add to the already thriving port. “What we’re seeing is truly transformational, truly inspiring and truly iconic when you look at the type of investments that are going on here at the port.” Strawbridge explains that having the deepest ship channel in the gulf, the tallest cable state bridge in the United States and the premier export port for United States produce energy is iconic. “The United States is now the largest energy producer in the world, and we’re at the apex of that paradigm.” One of the major projects underway is the Corpus Christi Ship Channel Improvement Project, which will deepen the channel from 47 feet to 54 feet. The deepening of the channel is a tremendous advantage for the port, as it allows larger ships and more cargo to be handled on the same ship. This change will keep the businesses healthy and viable. They began working on the CC Ship Channel Improvement Project in 1990, and after being told that the project was dead less than 18 months ago, Strawbridge is happy to report that it is now 62 percent funded, and dredgers will soon be in the water. LaRue follows up by stating that it has a projected start date in early 2019, and although the project may take another three to four years to complete, they’re on track and optimistic that it will get done. The improvements made by this project are a testament of what can be done with the power of positive thinking and teamwork, but they won’t stop there. Strawbridge is excited for the project because it’s their most important project; however, he realizes that the expansion to 54 feet was ideal in 1990, and if the project were implemented today, a more ideal expansion would be 75 feet. The continuation of this project is very important to him, and he has every intention of seeing this through. The Port of Corpus Christi is looking to grow the workforce by implementing more jobs, thus generating more

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revenue. Both gentlemen would like to see an influx of the younger generation in these positions. “We want to create an atmosphere where people of all ages want to work here,” Strawbridge says. “We’ve got to bring in younger people; we’ve got to usher in a new era.” LaRue agrees, stating that, “Having young people in these positions breaks down the ‘we always did it this way’ mentality. We’re attracting a lot of new industry, and a lot of the growth for the future comes from younger people in these universities.” However, every great job requires great training. To effectively prepare our youth for these positions, the Port of Corpus Christi is collaborating with Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and Del Mar College to provide internships with hands-on training and professional development for students in engineering fields. With cutting-edge technology and curriculum modified by representatives from these academic institutions, the interns receive top-notch preparation for their future careers. “This internship program has become more formalized within the last three years, including more outreach programs in place to recruit students that are excelling academically,” LaRue says. “Most internships are unpaid, but this collaboration involves a more structured program that allows our interns to earn money while they learn.” The interns glean new information from each department, including engineering, finance and operations to receive the experience they may not be able to acquire in a school setting. At the end, all interns are required to give a presentation on what they accomplished during their internship, and what they have learned during their time with the Port. LaRue is extremely proud of this program because not only do the interns get to acquire new skills under their belt in preparation for their careers, but the port employees get to learn about the interns, as well, creating that strong culture that Strawbridge focuses on. Although the Port of Corpus Christi will continue to take on new projects, they will continue to focus on safety and environmental issues. The Port of Corpus Christi is committed to operating safely and reliably. According to LaRue, “Many of the positions here are difficult and dangerous, and we don’t want anyone getting hurt on the job, so a lot of time is spent training employees on safety guidelines.” The same courtesy applies to environmental issues; the Port of Corpus Christi is committed to environmental stewardship. Corpus Christi is the only city with healthy “in attainment” air quality status, which the port works diligently to maintain. Both Strawbridge and LaRue hope that this diligence, coupled with employment growth, will continue to improve the quality of life of Corpus Christi. For more information, visit www.portofcc.com.

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PROFILE

INTO THE FUTURE Local family business turned national chain, Church’s Chicken, continues to grow. By: Kate Kimberlin

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hat started as a fried chicken-to-go window across from the Alamo 66 years ago has now become the fourth-largest chicken restaurant chain in the world. What started as an idea and determination became a multinational company, and Corpus Christi became one of its first homes. In 1952, George W. Church Sr. opened “Church’s Fried Chicken-To-Go” on 111 South Alamo St. In the midst of his growing success after opening during Fiesta week, Church’s business grew to eight stores around the San Antonio area. After his death, Church willed the business to his sons. George W. “Bill” Church Jr. took over the company. After a tour in the Navy, Richard Church also joined the business to help his brother in the transition.

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Richard and Bill always had the drive to continue their father’s legacy of going national and later opened five other units in five different Texas cities in 1967. One of these locations was in Corpus Christi, and can be found on Gollihar Road. That same year, a young Vicki DeFratus was in search of a job. Beginning as a secretary under Richard, she learned the fundamentals of the business for 14 years. DeFratus worked closely with Richard until his death. In 1981, she transitioned to CEO and president of Church’s Chicken of Corpus Christi. This makes DeFratus a part of Church’s Chicken for more than 50 years. Keri Orrell’s career in the family business began in 1996. After graduating from Texas State University, Keri made the journey home from San Marcos. She began to slowly transition fully into Church’s; since then, Orrell has worked up to become vice president of Church’s Chicken of Corpus Christi. As of August of this year, she has acquired the business from her mother through a domestic transfer. The dedication under the ownership of these two women has not gone unnoticed. Between the director of operations

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KATE KIMBERLIN is a senior at Veterans Memorial High School. You can visit Church’s Chicken at any of these Corpus Christi locations: 3140 Golihar, 2901 Ayers, 735 Lum, 5149 Weber, 3502 Leopard and 4901 Greenwood.

and the managers of the six locations, they have put in 163 years with the business. “I could not do the things I do without any of them,” Orrell said. The recent remodel of the Ayers location, along with the other five locations soon to follow, marks a big step in the business, as well as the community. “This remodel will help build a new face to a company that has been a part of the community for so long,” Orrell said. The remodel involves many new refurbishments, displays the Church’s STAR Initiative design and gives the restaurant a more modern look. Church’s and its leadership have a deep connection with the community. DeFratus has been involved with organizations such as The Boys and Girls Club, serving as one of the only female members on the Corpus Christi Country Club board. Orrell takes after her mother in local involvement and thinks it is very important for the business, as well as the city as a whole. She has served on several local boards, including the Saint James Episcopal School Board and Junior League of Corpus Christi, and she gives back to several charities. “Being able to assist in the overall growth of the city has been a very rewarding experience as a business owner,” Orrell said, “and it is something that I have enjoyed.”

ASSISTING IN THE OVERALL GROWTH OF THE CITY HAS BEEN A VERY REWARDING EXPERIENCE.” I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M

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UNITED CORPUS CHRISTI CHAMBER

FIVE-STAR CELEBRATION THE 2018 “BEST IN THE BIZ” AWARDS RECOGNIZE BUSINESS EXCELLENCE IN THE COASTAL BEND. SPECIAL TO INSPIRE COASTAL BEND PHOTOS BY: TWINS MEDIA

On Dec. 6, over 400 individuals from the Coastal Bend business community joined the United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce at the Solomon P. Ortiz Center for the “Best in the Biz” Awards Presentation & Reception, presented by Flint Hills Resources. The purpose of the chamber’s “Best in the Biz” Awards is to acknowledge and recognize the businesses and individuals in our community who exemplify excellence in business. Business excellence drives economic growth and elevates our region, making it a better place for everyone to do business, work and live. The “Best in the Biz” award selection process began in early September, when chamber members and the community were invited to submit nominations for 10 different award categories. After reviewing the record number of nominations, an awards selection committee determined the Top 3 finalists for each category. The finalists were announced in early November, and the public was provided the opportunity to share their input by voting for a finalist in each award category. Unlike previous business award events hosted by the chamber, the “Best in the Biz” award winners remained top secret until the night of Dec. 6. “Best in the Biz” event attendees were warmly welcomed by the management team from ZJZ Hospitality, a chamber member business and hospitality sponsor for the evening, a beautifully crafted ice sculpture surrounded by signature cocktails and red-carpet photo op composed a grand entrance and helped set the stage for a five-star celebration of Coastal Bend business excellence. While the anticipation of the “Best in the Biz” awards presentation continued to build, guests enjoyed a cocktail reception complete with a cigar bar. Chamber Executive Committee members Libby Averyt, treasurer; Deven Bhakta, chair; and Cleo Rodriguez, president and CEO, served as emcees for the program portion of the event, delivering a memorable performance complete with costume changes and surprise dance numbers. Each “Best in the Biz” award presentation began with a video produced by TWINS Media, introducing the finalists in that category. The program portion of the evening concluded with a champagne “toast to business” led by Philip Ramirez, incoming chair of the chamber. Additional highlights of the evening included interactive hors d’oeuvre and dessert stations, live music from local band, Splendiferous, and dancing. The United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce would like to thank all who attended and sponsored the 2018 “Best in Biz” Awards for joining us in celebrating our distinguished honorees and business excellence in the Coastal Bend! The United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce is pleased and proud to share the 2018 “Best in the Biz” award winners.

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CHAMBER CHAMPION OF THE YEAR: BARBIE BAKER, JBBM MARKETING Awarded to a Chamber Champion volunteer for dedicated service to the chamber throughout 2018 A true champion of the United Chamber and the Coastal Bend business community, Barbie Baker works diligently to advance the mission of the United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce. Throughout 2018, Baker has devoted countless hours to her role as a Chamber Champion, recruiting new chamber members, providing support at signature events, attending multiple ribbon-cuttings each week and expanding the presence of the chamber in the community. Baker’s passion for Corpus Christi, the chamber and supporting local is evident in everything she does.

MANO A MANO LEGACY AWARD: LARRY MEDRANO Given to a past recipient of the Mano a Mano Scholarship, an educational endowment program designed to promote the growth of our local workforce and aid Coastal Bend students in obtaining their college degree, who has demonstrated their commitment to the Coastal Bend workforce and community Upon completion of his undergraduate studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMU-CC) in summer 2019, Larry Medrano will be the first in his family to walk across the stage as a college graduate. A highly dedicated, determined individual who is majoring in information technology and minoring in business, Medrano was awarded the Mano a Mano Scholarship in both 2017 and 2018. Throughout his time as a student at TAMU-CC, Medrano has seamlessly balanced school with volunteer commitments and work, all while maintaining a 3.9 GPA and excelling in his classes.   I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M

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LEADERSHIP CORPUS CHRISTI SERVANT LEADER AWARD: BEN MOLINA Given to a graduate of Leadership Corpus Christi who embodies what it means to be a servant leader – demonstrating the characteristics of empathy, listening, stewardship and commitment to personal growth toward others Currently a Corpus Christi City Council man serving District 2, Ben Molina is a family man and small business owner who has dedicated his life to serving our community in many capacities to include: president of the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate, president of the Westside Business Association and member of the board of directors for the Young Business Professionals. Molina is also an honoree of CC Under 40 and a graduate of Leadership Corpus Christi Class 42, and he served on the steering committee for Leadership Corpus Christi Class 44. He serves our community well and has an evident passion for true leadership. Finalists: Patty Clark; Scott M. Harris, P.E.

MILITARY VETERAN’S ENTREPRENEURSHIP AWARD: LE ROY TORRES, BURN PITS 360 VETERANS ORGANIZATION Given to a former military personnel member who has successfully transitioned from the military to business world through an entrepreneurial endeavor The mission of Burn Pits 360 Veterans Organization is to reintegrate, restore and build resilience through addressing the unmet needs of warriors and their families through outreach, advocacy, education and research. Le Roy Torres, co-founder of Burn Pits 360 Veterans Organization, opened the Warrior Support Center as a subsidiary program of Burn Pits 360 after having served our state and our nation. As a Texas state trooper and Army Reserve captain, Torres lost both of his careers after the war due to war-related illnesses associated with burn pit toxic exposure. Understanding that we were losing veterans and first responders to invisible wounds of war and suicide, he made the decision to develop a program to help those war heroes and first responders in our community. The Warrior Support Center provides veterans, first responders and their families with a “home away from home” where they can access support services and rebuild camaraderie. Services and resources offered at the center include casework and claims assistance, seminars, peer support, a career closet, a food pantry, a computer lab and recreation activities. Finalists: Gary W. Moore, Revolutionary Insurance Group; Hershel Shoats, Silverback Wellness

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SPIRIT OF THE CHAMBER FOUNDATION: BAY AREA TITLE SERVICES, A PROUD MEMBER OF THE STEWART TITLE FAMILY Given to an organization or individual for outstanding support of the United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s programs and initiatives Bay Area Title Services is a proud, longtime supporter of the chamber foundation’s efforts to develop and empower leaders and entrepreneurs to make a positive impact in Corpus Christi. In addition to sponsoring events including Lemonade Day Coastal Bend and Mi Casa Es Su Casa, the Bay Area Title team advances the impact of chamber foundation programs and initiatives through hands-on support and involvement. During Lemonade Day Coastal Bend 2018, Bay Area Title employees helped two young entrepreneurs raise $2,500 to buy graduation cap and gowns for Miller High School students who could not afford to purchase them. This donation and effort provided 80 graduating seniors with the opportunity to walk across the stage, an experience they would have otherwise missed out on due to lack of funds. Bay Area Title Services is now a proud member of the Stewart Title family and remains committed to maintaining their dedication to the United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce as Stewart Title. Finalists: Barbie Baker; Linda Reyes Benavides

NEW BUSINESS OF THE YEAR: OH MY GOODNESS BOUTIQUE LLC

NONPROFIT BUSINESS OF THE YEAR: DRISCOLL CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

Given to a new business that has shown promise to be a significant corporate citizen, a friend of the chamber and a partner to many organizations within the community

Given to a not-for-profit business or organization that is a significant corporate citizen, a friend of the chamber and a partner to many organizations within the community

Oh My Goodness Boutique LLC is the largest locally owned, do-it-yourself craft store in Corpus Christi and Calallen. With a mission to offer quality DIY products at an affordable price, owner Nancy Madsen provides customers access to much more than unique materials and craft supplies. The DIY materials available at Oh My Goodness Boutique, including custom-designed ribbon and vinyl, provide local entrepreneurs with the necessary tools to create items and inventory for their own small businesses. An advocate for supporting local businesses and promoting the economic growth of the Coastal Bend, Madsen greatly values the opportunity to guide, support and encourage the growth of young businesses.

Born out of love and compassion for its founder, Clara Driscoll, granddaughter of a Texas patriot, Driscoll Children’s Hospital welcomes each and every child who walks through the doors seeking help, treatment and healing, regardless of their parents’ ability to pay. It was Clara’s legacy that created a fund to maintain a charitable hospital to care for the indigent children of South Texas. Driscoll Children’s Hospital is a 189-bed pediatric tertiary care center with more than 30 medical and surgical specialties offering care throughout South Texas, including Corpus Christi, the Rio Grande Valley, Victoria and Laredo. Through the vision and generosity of its founder, Clara Driscoll, Driscoll Children’s Hospital opened in Corpus Christi in 1953, becoming the first, and still the only, freestanding children’s hospital in South Texas. In 2017, Driscoll had more than 180,000 patient visits, including more than 43,000 patients seen at South Texas’ first emergency room created exclusively for children. A not-for-profit organization dedicated to the children of Corpus Christi and South Texas, Driscoll Children’s Hospital makes Corpus Christi a better community by doing what it does best – providing superior care for the city’s most precious resource: its children.

Finalists: JBBM Marketing; RevIVe Infusion & Wellness

Finalists: Habitat for Humanity Corpus Christi; The Purple Door

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SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR: BRASELTON HOMES Given to a small business that is a significant corporate citizen, a friend of the chamber and a partner to many organizations within the community Braselton Homes is the largest homebuilder and neighborhood developer in the Corpus Christi Bay area. For over 70 years, and three generations, the Braseltons have been building the Coastal Bend. With a mission to “build the best housing value in the Coastal Bend,” Braselton Homes works hard to stay at the forefront of innovation and design while maintaining an eco-friendly concept, an effort we will all benefit from in the future. Braselton Homes builds communities all across the Coastal Bend. They are also the exclusive builder of the Eco-Home, which reduces homeowner utility bills by 50 percent, and the Smart Home, the only tech-ready home in South Texas. Braselton Homes takes pride in supporting the community they have helped build for over 70 years and holds a strong commitment to ensuring the children in our area have a chance at a bright and positive future. Through charitable donations and volunteer time, including sitting on multiple nonprofit boards, Braselton Homes currently provides support to over 20 local organizations and programs. Braselton Homes employees are encouraged to volunteer and help extend the reach and support of the company into the community. Finalists: Inspire Coastal Bend Magazine; TVV MediSpa

Given to a large business that is a significant corporate citizen, a friend of the chamber and a partner to many organizations within the community

BIG BUSINESS OF THE YEAR: IBC BANK

IBC Bank was founded in 1966 to meet the needs of small businesses in Laredo, Texas. Today, it serves as the flagship bank of International Bancshares Corporation. Since its opening, IBC Bank has grown from less than $1 million in assets to $12 billion, making it one of Texas’ largest holding companies. Corpus Christi IBC has been in business since 1995. With nine branches, 13 ATM machines and 97 local employees, IBC Bank makes the community better by always doing more and providing hundreds of man-hours with their Employee Advisory Board (EAB) volunteer program. IBC volunteers put self aside and assist other organizations at many events throughout the year. In 2018, Corpus Christi IBC conducted 40 financial literacy classes, reaching 1,202 students and 101 adults, and made over $80,000 in charitable contributions and more than $64,000 in community reinvestment act (CRA) qualified contributions. They strive to provide a strong presence in the community and continue to “do more!” Finalist: Citgo

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HENRY BALDWIN AWARD: ROBERT ADLER Given to an individual or organization for outstanding and dedicated service to our community A successful and well-known businessman, Robert Adler is the president and owner of Atlas Iron and Metal, Roan Real Estate and Adler Pipe Company, and he has various other interests in a variety of companies. While he has been actively engaged in business in Corpus Christi since 1962, Adler’s greatest accomplishment is his lifelong commitment to serving the city and community of Corpus Christi, Texas. This commitment is seen through his servant leadership; community advocacy; donations of time, money and materials; and volunteerism. Now, even in retirement, he is a member of the CC Mustangs, a nonprofit entity that graciously cooks and serves famous barbecued ribs with all the trimmings “free” to nonprofits so that they might realize income to further their individual missions in education, cultural development and business outreach. Adler’s dedication to our fine city, specifically, the west side community where his business is established, is a beacon in the night of all he does to positively impact Corpus Christi. He is a true ambassador of Corpus Christi, serving as a mentor to many. Finalists: Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corporation; Ken Griffin

DORA CERVERA MIRABAL WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP AWARD: PAULETTE GUAJARDO Given to an individual who emulates Dora Cervera Mirabal, a local businesswoman, author, poet, newspaperwoman and civic leader who went above and beyond to move her community ahead, promote entrepreneurship and advocate for small, minority- and women-owned businesses Representing the citizens of Corpus Christi as an at-large city council representative is one of the many ways Paulette Guajardo demonstrates her dedication to the betterment of our community. A native Corpus Christian with deep roots in the community, Guajardo has served the community in various capacities, including board leadership with the Ark Assessment Center and Emergency Shelter, Catholic Charities of South Texas, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Foster Angels of South Texas and the Citizens Review Team at Child Protective Services. She remains dedicated to causes that positively impact the community and support economic development and is a strong advocate for our veterans and senior citizens. Like Dora Cervera Mirabal, Guajardo is a true trailblazer, leader and community servant. Finalists: Doreen M. Harrell, APR; Mayra V. Zamora

CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN TO ALL THE FINALISTS AND WINNERS! “BEST IN THE BIZ” WILL RETURN IN JANUARY OF 2020. LOOK OUT FOR OUR CALL FOR NOMINATIONS IN SEPTEMBER 2019. THANK YOU TO OUR 2018 “BEST IN THE BIZ” SPONSORS!  PRESENTING: FLINT HILLS RESOURCES  GOLD: CONNELLY FOUNDATION, ROOFING & CONSTRUCTION  AWARD SPONSORS: TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY-CORPUS CHRISTI, JASON’S DELI  BRONZE: AEP TEXAS, DRISCOLL CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL, IBC BANK  MEDIA: INSPIRE COASTAL BEND MAGAZINE, TWINS MEDIA  ADDITIONAL SPONSORS: OH MY GOODNESS BOUTIQUE LLC, AEP TEXAS, ZJZ HOSPITALITY INC.

THE PURPOSE OF THE “BEST IN THE BIZ” AWARDS IS TO RECOGNIZE THE BUSINESSES AND INDIVIDUALS IN OUR COMMUNITY WHO EXEMPLIFY EXCELLENCE IN BUSINESS. For more information about the United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce, please call 361-881-1800 or visit unitedcorpuschristichamber.com. I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M

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MONEY MATTERS

ROTH VS. TRADITIONAL 401(k) Which is right for you?

F

or many years, employees of companies that offered 401(k) plans only faced a couple of key decisions – how much to contribute and how to allocate their dollars among the various investment options in their plan. But in recent years, a third choice has emerged: the traditional versus Roth 401(k). Which is right for you? To begin with, you need to understand the key difference between the two types of 401(k) plans. When you invest in a traditional 401(k), you put in pre-tax dollars, so the more you contribute, the lower your taxable income. Your contributions and earnings grow tax-deferred until you begin taking withdrawals, which will be taxed at your ordinary tax rate. With a Roth 401(k), the situation is essentially reversed. You contribute after-tax dollars, so you won’t lower your taxable income, but withdrawals of contributions

and earnings are tax-free at age 59-1/2, as long as you’ve held the account at least five years. So, now that you’ve got the basics of the two types of 401(k) plans, which should you choose? There’s no one right answer for everyone. You essentially need to ask yourself these questions: When do you want to pay taxes? And what will your tax rate be in the future? If you’re just starting out in your career, and you’re in a relatively low income tax bracket, but you think you might be in a higher one when you retire, you might want to consider the Roth 401(k). You’ll be paying taxes now on the money you earn and contribute to your Roth account, but you’ll avoid being taxed at the higher rate when you start taking withdrawals. Conversely, if you think your tax rate will be lower when you retire, you might be more inclined to go with the traditional 401(k), which allows you to avoid paying

ASK YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS: WHEN DO YOU WANT TO PAY TAXES? AND WHAT WILL YOUR TAX RATE BE IN THE FUTURE?

taxes on your contributions now, when your tax rate is high. Of course, you can see the obvious problem with these choices – specifically, how can you know with any certainty if your tax bracket will be lower or higher when you retire? Many people automatically assume that once they stop working, their tax liabilities will drop, but that’s not always the case. Given their sources of retirement income from investment accounts and Social Security, many people see no drop in their tax bracket once they retire. Since you can’t see into the future, your best move might be to split the difference, so to speak. Although not all businesses offer the Roth 401(k) option, many of those that do will allow employees to divide their contributions between the Roth and traditional accounts. If you chose this route, you could enjoy the benefits of both, but you still can’t exceed the total annual 401(k) contribution limit, which, for 2019, is $19,000, or $25,000 if you’re 50 or older. You may want to consult with your tax advisor before making any decisions about a Roth or traditional 401(k) – or Roth and traditional 401(k) – but in the final analysis, these are positive choices to make, because a 401(k), in whatever form, is a great way to save for retirement. Try to take full advantage of it.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones financial advisor.

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ASIANDELIGHT/BIGSTOCK.COM, LOSKUTNIKOV MAXIM/BIGSTOCK.COM

SPECIAL TO INSPIRE COASTAL BEND


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I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M

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MONEY MATTERS

GET READY!

BBB helps small businesses prepare for tax season – and avoid scams. By: KELLY TREVINO

1. Limit engagement: The IRS will contact you

with a letter, not a phone call. Don’t engage with anyone who calls claiming to be with the IRS and demanding payment, even if the caller ID seems to come from Washington, D.C. The number can be spoofed. Instead, limit engagement. Understandably, as with any business, customer service is key. Offer to take their full name, IRS identification number and callback number; thank them; and end communication. 2. Call the IRS directly: If you owe federal taxes, or think you might, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. Also, if you’ve collected information from a potential scammer, pass that information over to them, as well. Real IRS workers can help you sort out any potential issues. 3. File a report: Report your experience to BBB Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker. Additionally, the IRS has a small business and self-employed tax center available on their website to help navigate your business taxes. Visit the website at https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed. For more helpful business tips, visit bbb.org.

THE IRS IS THE NO. 1 MOST IMPERSONATED ORGANIZATION ON BBB SCAM TRACKER.

KELLY TREVINO is the regional director for the Corpus Christi/Victoria area of Better Business Bureau serving the heart of Texas. She is available for media interviews and speaking engagements. You can reach her at 361-945-7352 or ktrevino@corpuschristi.bbb.org.

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KARENROACH/BIGSTOCK.COM

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t’s a new year, and a new tax season. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), with the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in December 2017, many small business taxpayers can expense more of the cost of certain business property. Business machinery and office equipment are just some of the items businesses can now elect to expense all or part of the cost with a maximum deduction of $1 million from the $500,000 previous amount. But before you start choosing a tax preparation business to help navigate the new tax law, it’s important to do your research first. In 2017, Better Business Bureau (BBB) processed about 2,400 reportable complaints against tax preparation services and related businesses. The median individual disputed amount for those complaints was $500, which was slightly up from the 2016 median of $400. Unfortunately, you also must watch out for the potential for tax-related scams on your business. In 2017, BBB received about 3,500 scam tracker reports from individuals and businesses targeted by a tax scam. The IRS is the No. 1 most impersonated organization on BBB Scam Tracker, so these types of calls are a problem. Scam tactics often rely on intimidation, isolation and/or pressure to act quickly, so if your staff is not trained on how to handle the potential for a scam call from the “IRS,” it’s time to pass on these three simple tips:


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ENERGY

CHRISTMAS ON THE COAST Stellar Energy Solutions and the American Bank Center present the first-ever Coastal Christ¡mas! SPECIAL TO INSPIRE COASTAL BEND

We are very excited about presenting Coastal Christimas! at the American Bank Center. This is a wonderful opportunity to engage and give back to the community in a memorable holiday celebration. We look forward to the success of this inaugural event and developing our concept further in future years.” – Matt Blasy, general manager

I’ve always had a love for Corpus Christi since arriving here in 2005. I never dreamed that I’d get the opportunity to build a business and life here. Thirteen years later, after creating and growing a successful veteran-owned business, I now have the opportunity to give back to the community by presenting Coastal Christimas! for all that this great city and community has given to me.” – Tim Clark, president

For more information, visit Stellar Energy Solutions online at www.stellarnrgsolutions.com.

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PHOTOS COURTESY OF STELLAR ENERGY SOLUTIONS

T

he American Bank Center and Stellar Energy Solutions were excited to present and host the first-ever Corpus Christi Coastal Christimas! This unique event was packed full of elaborate and illuminated holiday happenings, family friendly festivities and Coastal Christimas! cheer. The two-week-long event commenced on Sunday, Dec. 16, at 5 p.m. and continued through Jan. 1, 2019. With interactive elements from ice-skating to live reindeer, Corpus Christi experienced Christmas on the coast like never before. Outside the center along Shoreline Boulevard, visitors were able to immerse themselves in the holiday spirit as they sat beneath illuminated palm trees, relaxed at the fire pits, toasted S’mores and danced to the merry melodies of the Coastal Christmas Lodge. There was fun for the entire family inside the center, as well, including a giant, 32-foot Christmas tree, an ice-skating rink, a giant walk-in snow globe, a toddler zone, the world’s largest snowman bounce house and a tobaggan tunnel. The American Bank Center and Stellar Energy Solutions proved that Coastal Christimas! is an event like no other!


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REAL ESTATE

COST CRISIS

A look at the affordable housing problem in the Coastal Bend market

O

ur strong housing market in the Corpus Christi area is a blessing for builders, home sellers and developers, but the success of our market and increased demand for housing has greatly limited affordable options for many Coastal Bend homebuyers. Not only has the overall price of homes continued to increase, but our rental market and rental pricing also continues to rise. The data summarized here is provided by your local Corpus Christi Association of REALTORS. The average salary of our area’s residents is approximately $51,000 annually. When the industry standard rule of tripling annual income is applied to calculate and answer the question of what is con-

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sidered affordable housing, a price point of approximately $150,000 is determined to be affordable for average Coastal Bend residents. Please keep in mind that “affordable housing” does not mean Section 8 government-subsidized homes or “low-income housing” properties, but homes that are affordable to our average community residents. For the month of October 2018 (most current data at time of press), the median sales price of homes in the city of Corpus Christi was $185,500. During our fast-and-furious summer sales season, we usually see a dramatic increase in the median price due to increased buyer demand, and this year was no different with a $196,500 median sales price for the month of August 2018. Considering annual data, the over-

THE PRICE OF HOMES IN OUR REGIONAL MARKET HAS NEARLY DOUBLED IN ONLY 16 YEARS.

all 2017 median sales price was $186,450 for the entire Coastal Bend market, including Nueces and San Patricio Counties, and preliminary data indicate that our annual median price for 2018 will be approximately $200,000. For historical reference, the median sales price in our market has demonstrated a steadily increasing trend since 1991, apart from some market instability between 2009 and 2011. The last year our regional market saw median home sales of approximately $100,000 was 2002, meaning that the price of homes has nearly doubled since only 16 years ago. When considering the price distribution of home sales in Corpus Christi, less than 13 percent of homes sell for less than $100,000. The majority of 2017 home sales (approximately 45 percent) were in the $100,000-199,999 price bracket, and 2018 is expected to be similar. Therefore, if you are a homebuyer seeking a home for less than $100,000 in decent condition, you are likely to have a very small selection available and to be competing with a large pool of other buyers seeking homes in the same price range. When home-buying options are limited or unavailable, consumers often fall back on leasing homes or apartments owned by others. In Nueces County, only 57.4 percent of single-family homes are owner-occupied. San Patricio County is similar with only 68.3 percent of homes

ZIMMYTWS/BIGSTOCK.COM, VLADICZECH/BIGSTOCK.COM

By: DR. CORAL DWORACZYK CAREY


being owner-occupied. The remaining homes are mostly tenant-occupied. Additionally, our current apartment occupancy rate in Corpus Christi is still hovering around 94 percent, even with the near-constant construction of new apartment complexes in our communities. Like what we see with home sales, when demand is high and availability is low, prices will be elevated, and we see this reflected in rates for both apartment and home rentals. For example, in the city of Corpus Christi, the average apartment rate is $963 per month. This lands the city of Corpus Christi among the ranks of the most expensive apartment markets in the state of Texas. For comparison to other Texas cities, Corpus Christi apartment rates are higher than those in San Antonio ($926/month), Fort Worth ($959/month), Waco ($777/month) and Lubbock ($766/ month). Major metropolitan areas such as Houston ($1,068/month), Austin ($1,202/month) and Dallas ($1,162) are more expensive, but only marginally. Unfortunately for the consumer, the basic principles of economics tell us that housing prices will not decrease unless we see a decline in demand or an increase of supply. And considering the rapid growth of our economy and availability of new jobs, a decline in demand is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Several options are currently available for buyers seeking affordable homes on a modest budget for their personal use (owner-occupied homes), including a variety of HUD-administered and local programs that may offset the cost of homes for those that qualify. The city of Corpus Christi has also partnered with some builders to transfer vacant lots to builders if they are willing and able to build homes within the affordable guidelines for planned owner-occupants. Although these programs are far from serving the need of our entire community, they are at least demonstrating a variety of different and creative ways to help some buyers.

For more information, please contact DR. CORAL DWORACZYK CAREY, REALTOR, of South Coast Real Estate, LLC at coral@southcoasttexas. com. Please feel free to visit her website at www.southcoasttexas. com for more information on our local housing market and home availability. I N S P I R E C O A S TA L B E N D M A G . C O M

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TRAVEL

READY. SET. TAKEOFF!

Mission Accomplished: Operation Run the Runway at Corpus Christi International Airport By: KIM BRIDGER-HUNT

revel in every day. We wanted all of our visitors to realize how lucky we are to live in a community that has great running weather in November; how extraordinary it is to have the U.S. Coast Guard based here in all of their bravery and splendor; and how proud we all are to be a military community that cares about the men and women who are serving our nation from right here in the Coastal Bend. We wanted to host an event that would captivate the people who came to it and connect the community to an important part of our city. We’d like to think that Operation Run the Runway was a successful mission. The runners and sponsors who supported this event helped USO South Texas raise $25,000. If you aren’t familiar with what’s happening at the USO these days, rest assured that the organization is actively seeking new and wonderful ways to care for our military men and women here at home. Mission accomplished! And if you missed this opportunity to run the runway, put us on your calendar for next year. On Nov. 16, 2019, we’ll rev up the engines and be clear for takeoff again!

WE WANTED TO HOST AN EVENT THAT WOULD CONNECT THE COMMUNITY TO AN IMPORTANT PART OF OUR CITY.

KIM BRIDGER-HUNT is the marketing manager at CCIA. She can be reached at kimb@cctexas.com.

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PHOTOS COURTESY OF CCIA

I

t started as a wacky idea that had been done at an airport far away by a staff much larger than what we have at Corpus Christi International Airport (CCIA). It was just outrageous enough to get everyone’s attention. Three years after we first talked about it and 10 months after we started planning the event, 750 people lined up at the starting line, waited for the horn to blow and took off running toward Runway 18-36. It was a majestic morning. The sunrise left everyone speechless as the sky filled with bright orange, red and yellow. That was the backdrop for the arrival of the U.S. Coast Guard aircraft and the start of the Patriot Guard Riders (PGR), who would warm up the runway for this unique event. There were runners everywhere. All of the registered 5K runners were wearing their chipped bibs so their time could be tracked and recorded. Some were seasoned runners who were here to test themselves on a track that undoubtedly is about as perfect as you could ever find. Others in the crowd were here to have some fun, get some exercise, visit with friends along the way and take in something that few people have ever experienced. What we offered the community on Nov. 17, 2018, was a chance to come to the airport and see it from a completely different perspective. We wanted the community to see how awesome their airport is and to understand why we are all so proud of it. We really wanted kids and their parents to come out here and enjoy being close to airplanes, fire trucks and the world of aviation that we


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TASTE

HEALTHY AND DELICIOUS CREAMY MEDJOOL DATE CARAMEL

What do you do when “‘Tis the season” rolls right into “‘Tis the time for healthier New Year’s resolutions”? Start finding more nutritious, cleaner ways to enjoy the flavors you love! Medjool dates are naturally sweet, sticky fruits that, when pureed, have the flavor and texture of a spreadable caramel. Enjoy it with apple slices or pretzel rods, or poured over a pint of ice cream. You won’t want to share! Bonus: Medjool dates are high in fiber and potassium.

Recipe makes 1/2 cup. By: MANDY ASHCRAFT Photo by: DUSTIN ASHCRAFT

INGREDIENTS: 12 pitted medjool dates, soaked in warm water for 10-15 minutes 2 tablespoons water Pinch of salt

INSTRUCTIONS:

1/ Drain the water from the dates after you’ve soaked them. You could still blend them up without soaking them first and it would still taste great, but if you want a smoother texture, it’s best to soak them in warm water first. 2/ Add dates, salt and water to a food processor or blender, and process until smooth. If you prefer a thinner caramel, add water by the teaspoon until you achieve the desired consistency. 3/ Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

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NONPROFIT

WAVE OF CHANGE

Let 2019 be the year we make a difference for children across the Coastal Bend. By: SAMANTHA KOEPP-STEMPLINGER

and reduces trauma? There is much truth to the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” There are opportunities all around us from many organizations throughout the Coastal Bend that support youth in foster care. We just have to be open to recognizing when we can make a contribution, where we can get involved and how important it is to make a difference. Think about all those times when you received an email, walked by an organization’s information table, saw a commercial on TV or heard an announcement on the radio and thought about how it would feel good to get involved, but you just weren’t sure how. It’s not about acting on every “ask” that comes your way, but rather about looking into what you have to offer that can benefit a child in crisis, and how that can fulfill a need. It can be as simple as donating a Christmas gift or as enriching as donating your time as a volunteer advocate. We all have something to share that can strengthen our community. A community is a living, breathing embodiment of the vision we share to be happy and healthy together. Let 2019 be the year of being present in the moment and seeing the value we produce spreading beyond just the people in our lives. If we individually make ripples, together we can create a wave of change.

For more information, email SAMANTHA KOEPP-STEMPLINGER at samantha@coastalbendcasa.org.

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OVELYDAY12/BIGSTOCK.COM

T

he thought of a new year is exciting to most. It is often approached as an opportunity to make a fresh start in some area of one’s life. As the calendar moves forward, we reset our mental clocks, clearing the board to draw out a new game plan for the year ahead. It’s refreshing to think of all the possibilities 2019 will bring for us! But imagine if that game plan was just taken from you one day. Let’s say, one day, you come home from work to people you do not know waiting for you. They tell you that you must go with them for an indefinite amount of time. You are only allowed to take a handful of items; everything and everyone else stays behind. Upon leaving your home, you are driven to a different city and taken to a house where you will live with complete strangers. You are told where you will work and are given new clothes to wear because yours are no longer acceptable. The only communication you will have with your loved ones is during supervised visits twice a week for two hours at a time. You ask when you can go home, and you’re told that it depends on the actions and decisions of others. Just imagining this scenario brings unease. It seems unbearable to be in a situation like that, waiting to find out if you will go back home, if you will stay where you are or if you will once again have to leave what you have grown to know and start all over again. What seems like a bad dream for any adult is a stark reality for hundreds of children across the Coastal Bend. We want to close our eyes and shut out these images, but it is time to open our eyes to see the children who are living this reality every day. The unthinkable happened in the lives of these children, and now they await decisions made by others for their futures. While each child’s story, circumstances and reactions differ from case to case, the one thing that remains the same is this: Each child deserves to be safe, to feel loved and to be heard. So where to go from here? The process of removing children from harmful environments is necessary, and determining a situation in which they can thrive is important. How do we create a process that is healthy


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Profile for Inspire Coastal Bend Magazine

Inspire Coastal Bend Magazine Business Jan/Feb 2019  

Inspire Coastal Bend Magazine Business Jan/Feb 2019  

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