What is a TIRZ?  Who benefits from a TIRZ? Those are questions that became the center of much discussion here in town just a few years back as City Council debated whether to adopt one or not.  Well, the Laredo Chamber, in collaboration with Laredo College, partnered with the Office of the State Comptroller to bring some light to that issue recently.  Frank Alvarez, Senior Analyst in the Data Analysis & Transparency Division of that agency, was in town on March 3, 2020, and delivered a well-versed presentation on the subject, addressing both the benefits of a TIRZ (Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone) as opposed to simple tax abatements.  The presentation revolved not only as to potential impact, but also explained the process, step by step, of setting up a TIRZ.

Over forty members of the local community, as well as some representatives from surrounding counties were in attendance at the morning session held at Laredo College’s Harold R. Yeary Library and Executive Center.  Participants included developers, real estate agents, representatives of county appraisal districts and tax assessors offices, and board members of non-profit organizations.  States Miguel Conchas, President for the Laredo Chamber, who initiated contact with the State Comptroller’s Office, “It’s a wonderful opportunity to be able to hear first hand from experts who monitor these programs on a daily basis. But, even more so, to bring the presentation to our own doorstep.  I’m glad we’re able to provide this option for those in attendance.”

A second segment of the seminar addressed rules and regulations behind the use of Hotel Occupancy Tax.  A tax collected by hotels, motels and other lodging facilities, the HOT Tax, as is often referred to, is a valuable tool for city and county governments in their quest to attract tourism and visitors to their location. That presentation was done by Heather Hampton, Research Analyst for the Data Analysis and Transparency Division, with support from Russell Gallahan, Team lead for Local Government, both of the same agency.  Dr. Ricardo Solis, President of Laredo College, joined Michael Gonzalez, LC Senior Director of Strategic and External Initiatives, and Conchas to personally welcome the State Comptroller team on campus.

The Laredo Chamber of Commerce is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. With 650 members representative of every industry in the community, the Laredo Chamber is accredited by this organization with 5 stars.  Only 200 chambers out of 7000 across the country are accredited by this organization.  Founded in 1915, the Laredo Chamber of Commerce is Laredo’s and Webb County’s longest running business organization.  Headquartered at 2310 San Bernardo Ave. since 1974, the Laredo Chamber has been an advocate for the local business community for over a century.