As the board chairman for the Cy-Fair Houston Chamber of Commerce for 2016, Mark McShaffry helped to expand the chamber’s membership and presence in the Cy-Fair community. He said he plans to remain active in the chamber after he steps down at the end of his term in January while also continuing to support other organizations in the Cy-Fair community.

What are some highlights from your year as chairman of the board?

At the beginning of the year, I had two main goals: increase the business retention rate and grow the chamber membership. I am happy to say that we did both. Chamber lunches have also been a great success this year with record numbers. One of my favorite moments this year had to be helping with the John Fox Chamber Herd, a fundraiser for local FFA students. John Fox was my good friend, a true leader in this community and the Herd Boss for 20 years. It was my honor to help fill in with Debbie Blackshear to keep the Chamber Herd going but [also] to sit with the Fox family at the auction. The entire staff at the chamber did an excellent job this year on membership, retention and events. I am proud to sit on the board with so many great community leaders.

How do you plan on staying involved in the community?

The chairman of the Cy-Fair Houston Chamber of Commerce is a one-year term, which will end for me in January.  I will always be active in the chamber and encourage other businesses to do the same. I am still very active as a trustee for the Cy-Fair Educational Foundation, which raises funds for college scholarships for college graduates of Cy-Fair ISD and provides staff development grants to teachers within our district. I am also a board member of Cy-Hope, whose main mission is to make life better for kids in Cy-Fair. We recently partnered with Cy-Hope with their purchase of a portion of the Northwest [Forest] Conference Center and are currently helping with event coordinating at the Alamo [replica on site] to help raise funds. In 2017, I plan on doing more at Reach Unlimited, [which] provides quality support services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We make art pieces that we sell at The Backyard Grill with all of the bottle caps we collect, and the clients at Reach help us sort them. Our staff has had a craft day at their facility sanding and painting wood pieces, and we would like to do more.

Why is it important for business owners to be involved in the community?

It is incredible how many great businesses there are in Cy-Fair. A good man once told me that a community is only as strong as their school district, and in Cy-Fair, we have a great one. The partnerships between CFISD, local businesses and charitable organizations are amazing. Years ago at a Lone Star College [Small Business Development Center] dinner, I was asked why I was so active in the community, and there is really only one reason: because it is the right thing to do. There are many businesses in our community that understand this, but it is my mission to continue to preach the story of giving and get more businesses involved.

Why is the chamber of commerce so important in a region like Cy-Fair?

Unlike most areas, we do not have a city government in Cy-Fair. In Cy-Fair, it is the responsibility of the chamber to stay in contact with elected officials to make sure that the interests of our area are being heard. We also communicate with [the Texas Department of Transportation] and state representatives on transportation issues throughout the community. We do not have zoning in our area, so conversations with business and developers for advice or input help us stay on top of the future growth.

What do you hope to see the chamber accomplish in 2017?

A chamber’s goal should always include retention and growth. There will always be businesses that join the chamber for a year and decide not to renew for one reason or the other. My goal in 2017 is to define those reasons and establish a concrete purpose to help all businesses understand the ultimate goal of the chamber and give them a reason to renew year after year. The more businesses that get involved in this community, the better, and the best way to open doors and get started is to join the chamber.