Robert McKinley
Robert McKinley at Mexican business development conference

UTSA ecodev expert honored by Mexican governor

By Alison Beshur
Public Affairs Specialist

(Aug. 8, 2006)--Robert McKinley, associate vice president of the UTSA Institute for Economic Development, recently received an award of excellence from Juan Carlos Romero Hicks, governor of the Mexican state of Guanajuato.

The recognition was for his work building the state's Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and for successfully creating similar centers across Mexico.

McKinley received the award at the 7th National Congress of the Mexican Small Business Development Association. Raul Arias, chancellor of the Universidad de Veracruz, also was recognized.

During the past five years, McKinley has headed an effort to open 42 small business development centers with university partners in 25 states of Mexico.

"Universities understand the need to extend knowledge and resources to create jobs in the private sector," McKinley said. "I'm pleased that UTSA has been able to build constructive partnerships with our higher education peers in Mexico."

The first SBDC in Mexico was launched in 2001 at the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara and modeled after successful SBDCs in the United States.

Because of the enthusiasm and interest that followed, the initiative to model the project at other universities was listed in a Partnership for Prosperity agreement between President George W. Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox.

As a result, the U.S. Agency for International Development granted funding to the UTSA Institute for Economic Development to model dozens of other centers with university partnerships across the country.

UTSA's International Trade Center to date has trained more than 200 new economic development professionals in Mexico to staff the centers and help micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses develop feasibility plans, create and market a product, and seek funding resources for new businesses.

Not only do the new centers help create jobs and support small businesses in Mexico, but they also set up a network of potential trade partners for U.S. businesses, McKinley said.

"While the bi-national agenda is largely focused on the negative aspects of immigration, the Mexico SBDC project offers a genuine means of creating jobs in the growing small business sector of Mexico and a way of promoting two-way trade, which mitigates economic pressures fueling migration north and ultimately benefits both countries," McKinley said.

"Additionally, as a solution that is supported by all major political parties of Mexico, continued replication and sustainability of the SBDC centers in Mexico won't be affected by the outcome of the recent closely contested presidential elections in Mexico."

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