Published 3:23 pm, Tuesday, September 1, 2015
“I feel very blessed to be in the position I’m in, to hear people’s complaints and their praises and make them heard,” said Martone, 40, who began her involvement with the chamber in 2006 and took her current role in January 2012.
Serving the Cy-Fair community has personal meaning to Martone, too. The area has been her home since she was 7.
The chamber has 650 members, making it a medium-sized entity as far as chamber of commerce organizations go.
“We have a five-person staff, including me,” Martone said. “We all roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty.”
Martone’s priorities for the chamber include keeping members informed about healthcare and the Affordable Care Act, supporting area schools and colleges and continuing efforts to improve area mobility and transportation.
“I don’t ever see a light at the end of the tunnel for transportation,” Martone said.
The improvements under way on U.S. 290 are largely due to the chamber’s ability to convince the Texas Department of Transportation to push for the work to be done sooner than TxDOT had planned, Martone added.
Growth means an ongoing need for continued road improvements and expansions. The chamber sees its role as being an advocate for businesses and community members and a resource for transportation updates, Martone said.
“Once you get off the highway, there’s some confusion about which entity is responsible for what – the state, Harris County Precinct 3 or Precinct 4,” she said.
The chamber frequently communicates with the offices of county commissioners R. Jack Cagle and Steve Radack regarding such questions.
The Cy-Fair area has grown tremendously since Martone’s childhood, which she credits largely to the community’s continuing appeal to families with children.
“A lot of people talk to me about the reasons they moved here,” she said. “Usually, it’s the school system.”
Cypress Fairbanks Independent School District’s 2014-15 state of the district report stated that the district is the largest in Texas to see all of its eligible campuses meet the state’s academic standards.
Cy-Fair ISD has 87 campuses this school year and an enrollment of approximately 115,000.
When Martone was attending Cy-Fair High School in the early 1990s, it was one of four high schools in the district.
“We are currently building High School 11 and acquiring land for No. 12,” she said.
The Cy-Fair area has about 750,000 residents. In addition to the school system, Martone said, people have chosen the community for its many parks and green spaces and access to major highways including U.S. 290 the Sam Houston Tollway and the new Grand Parkway.
‘Boots on the ground’
Martone graduated from Cy-Fair High School before earning her bachelor of science degree in recreation, parks and tourism from Texas A&M University in 1998.
Martone was serving as a community development coordinator for Cy-Fair Federal Credit Union, a chamber member, when she started volunteering as a chamber ambassador in 2006. She went on to serve for two years on the chamber board before deciding to apply when the president’s position opened.
She said the nonprofit organization is devoted to helping its business members and the area grow and thrive and that it works closely with local politicians, such as 10th District U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul. The Republican addressed the group at a recent meeting.
She said she remembers receiving texts from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick when he was a Texas lawmaker needing to fact-check details about local businesses.
“Serving the chamber means you know your area,” Martone said. “Your boots are on the ground.”
She said the job is rewarding, but there are few off hours.
“You can’t go to a grocery store or restaurant without someone approaching you. My kids have gotten accustomed to it,” she added, referring to her 12- and 14-year-old sons.
To be fair, though, Martone is known in the community for other roles, too. She also is involved with organizations including the Cy-Fair Educational Foundation, Aggie Women’s Network, the governing board at Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center and the Cy-Fair Express Network of the American Business Women’s Association.