Since 1979, the Westside Business Association (WBA) has shone as a beacon for Corpus Christi’s Westside businesses and residents. The organization continues to provide community resources through educational and business resources, while its philanthropic initiatives focus on creating a ripple effect for low-income and Hispanic families in need.
The WBA is run by a passionate volunteer board of directors, and continues to thrive on guiding principles instilled over 40 years ago.
Ideas for an association percolated in the late 1970s, as a group of local business owners sought more support for their community. They began to meet on Agnes Street, which was key, as it turned into Highway 44, which at the time had been shut down. The highway led to Laredo, covering main routes throughout the Gulf Coast. As these were not easy times on the Westside, opportunity for economic development would soon help drive many changes.
“People who were from across the tracks were treated differently,” said Noe Mendez, a founding member of the WBA. Returning from military service in Europe, he was told he wasn’t able to work in transit in Corpus Christi because he was Hispanic. This sparked a movement for Mendez and others to find resources for those encountering similar roadblocks.
An inspired group of 25 Corpus Christi business owners would travel to the state Capitol in Austin to be considered for a grant to fund economic development through the Texas Department of Transportation. The effort resulted in an award of about $8 million to boost economic development, and the Port Avenue Business Association was formed. It would later be renamed the WBA.
“We feel by partnering with businesses and nonprofit organizations for the common good, together, we can truly make a change in the Westside and in the community.”
The WBA focuses its efforts on providing informational presentations, monthly breakfasts and lunch-and-learns to new and existing business members.
“We feel by partnering with businesses and nonprofit organizations for the common good, together, we can truly make a change in the Westside and in the community,” said Liz Cantu, WBA president.
Enhancing aesthetics in and around the city also has become a part of WBA’s mission.
“We do that through helping promote Westside businesses, helping them revitalize their existing structure and helping with landscaping, painting and just increasing their curbside appeal,” Cantu said.
In addition, the WBA provides clothing and sports equipment for children during the holidays.
“We feel that if children are happy and feeling good about the way they look and feel, they tend to do better in school,” said Carmen Arias, an active member of the WBA.