ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The U.S Chamber of Commerce awarded the Abilene’s chamber with an elite designation of a five-star chamber. The distinction means Abilene chamber of commerce is in the top two percent of best-performing chambers nationwide.

The Abilene Chamber of Commerce routinely helps new and current businesses succeed by providing them with resources needed to promote economic development in the Key City. One way the chamber does this is through Redcoat Ambassadors; a group of volunteers who represent the chamber by supporting businesses by attending new business ribbon cuttings and anniversaries.

This Redcoat Ambassador program helped the chamber receive its five-star designation. In 2022, the ambassadors volunteered a total of 215 hours, according to the chamber.

President and CEO of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce, Doug Peters, said this year the chamber was involved in helping 16 new businesses. With all the new businesses this year, and those that will come in the next few years, the chamber hopes to put Abilene on the map as a leader in economic growth.

“The value of community growth, while preserving who we are as a community. It positions us very well to be competitive for new jobs, capital investment from companies’, people who want to live here, and help us to add to our workforce,” listed Peters.

One of those 16 businesses is Beyond Blessed Bridal. This bridal store opened in April of 2022, and its owner, Jenae Weaver, said she started the business because she saw there was a boutique-style bridal shop missing in Abilene.

Weaver said she heard from her friends and other brides that they drive to Dallas-Fort Worth to find a gown. It sparked an idea, and her love for all things bridal, to start her business. Previously, Weaver worked in the dental industry for more than 20 years.

Crediting the shop’s success to the help from the Abilene Chamber of Commerce, Weaver said she was able to learn how to jumpstart her business.

“You have to learn all different things of how to run a small business, and the state and local federal taxes, you know, all that kind of stuff, so it’s a learning curve,” Weaver explained.

David Smith, Regional Director with Texas Tech Small Business Development Center, said small businesses play an important role in the economy.

“You have the Amazons and the big corporate, but 99% of all the businesses in America are small businesses, so they are very important and vital to the economy of the United States,” said Smith.

Out of roughly 4,000 chambers in the U.S., just 140 received a five-star distinction – effectively putting Abilene on the map as an example of how to make a positive impact on the community.