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Area women’s chamber to open office at Brunson

August 10, 2021

The Greater Houston Women’s Chamber of Commerce has chosen the Brunson Theater as the ideal location for its new satellite office for Chambers County.

Thanks to grants from the U.S. Small Business Administration announced in January, 20 new Women’s Business Centers are being launched across the country. This is the single largest expansion of women centers by the SBA, and it is hoped this will help boost women-owned businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

One of these centers supporting women-owned small businesses will now sit within the iconic Brunson Theater at 311 W. Texas Avenue.

To celebrate, a grand opening ceremony complete with a ribbon-cutting is scheduled at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Brunson. The Chamber will follow this up by holding its monthly luncheon with Lee College Professor Joe Ganakos at 11:30 a.m. Aug. 24 also at the Brunson. 

Shayla White, the WBC executive director for the Chamber, explained the City of Baytown and the Baytown/West Chambers County Economic Development Foundation partnered with the Chamber to help create the new women’s business center at the historic theater. 

“It was a win-win to host our center at the newly renovated Brunson Theater,” White said. “It can serve as 

the information site for Baytown. With it being beautifully renovated, we are happy to occupy the space there for our SBA women’s business center.” 

Mayor Brandon Capetillo said he is excited and proud the Chamber not only has a chapter established in the area but will also have a physical presence at the Brunson.

“I think it is a great opportunity for professional women here in our community to connect with other women and leaders in positions,” Capetillo said. “My understanding is they will provide some of the educational services, professional conversations, and lessons that are extremely valuable. I welcome them and look forward to a great relationship between the City of Baytown and their Chamber.”

White said the Chamber’s women’s center is more of a permanent fixture at the theater, which was turned into a business incubator/visitors center in 2019. It is now known as the Brunson Entrepreneur Center. 

“We are not planning on moving elsewhere,” White said. “Our presence in the Brunson is a natural fit. We envision being a small business pipeline where people interested in starting a business can utilize the resources we have available at the Chamber and start businesses out in Chambers County.” 

White said the Chamber is working in partnership with Exxon Mobil and Chevron Phillips for mentoring purposes. Heather Betancourth of Chevron Phillips Chemical and Halisha Balla of ExxonMobil are the sponsors for this facet of the center. 

White said the center will offer a lot for any woman seeking to start or continue running a business. 

“The Women’s Business Center delivers programming that provides business development services and resources to nascent, emerging, and established women entrepreneurs, including those that are economically and socially disadvantaged,” White said. “We now have space inside the historic Brunson Theater at 311 W. Texas Avenue in Baytown for women who may need a conference room for meetings or a desk setting.  The Brunson has a beautiful ‘We Work’ environment that is both safe and professional. We’ll have representation there every Friday, and we can also make arrangements by appointment. Our agreement doesn’t specify square footage, but we have one cubicle, a shared kitchen, shared restrooms, and the conference room.”

Suzan Deison, CEO, Chamber president and founder, said she is pleased to be able to serve women business owners through the Brunson center. 

“We are thrilled to partner with the SBA in opening another Women’s Business Center, providing resources and tools for our region’s women-led organizations to launch and expand,” Deison said. “We are honored the SBA chose to partner with us to expand needed services in Montgomery, East Harris and Chambers’ counties, especially during these challenging times.”

By Matt Hollis, Baytown Sun