UTSA participates in Colombian economic development conference

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At Pathways conference in Colombia are UTSA's Monica Alcoz and Cliff Paredes

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(Oct. 30, 2012) -- UTSA Associate Vice President for Economic Development Robert McKinley, South-West Texas Border SBDC Network Director Al Salgado, International Trade Center Director Cliff Paredes and Senior International Business Consultant Monica Alcoz participated in the Pathways to Prosperity Ministerial Meeting and the Americas Competitiveness Forumin Cali, Colombia, Oct. 23-26.

During the events, the team from UTSA exhibited work of the institute done through President Obama's Small Business Network of the Americas Initiative to expand the successful U.S. Small Business Development Center (SBDC) model in the Americas. They also promoted the adoption of SBDCGlobal.com, UTSA's online trade platform for SBDC clients that connects buyers and sellers in countries throughout the Americas.

Attendees at the events included high-ranking government executives and ministerial officials, university representatives and business leaders from Western Hemisphere countries committed to democracy and open markets -- among them, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The conferences highlight and encourage best practices to expand economic opportunities. Economic organizations represented include the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia presented opening remarks at the Americas Competitiveness Forum.

ACF participants exchanged ideas and knowledge to help the countries in the Americas become more innovative, productive and competitive to improve the living standards of its inhabitants.

"This conference is a perfect venue for us to meet with other economic development organizations in the Western Hemisphere," said McKinley. "Our role in expanding the U.S. model of small business development centers began in 2003 when we started helping Mexico build what has become a network of 108 small business assistance centers. Since that success, we have helped to establish 10 centers in El Salvador and 2 pilot centers in Cali, Colombia."

With the support of Pathways and OAS, the UTSA Institute for Economic Development is transferring and adapting the SBDC model in five additional countries in Central America and five in the Caribbean. Additionally, an agreement was signed with the Brazilian small-business assistance organization SEBRAE. The agreement opens new opportunities with Brazil, which already has a matured small-business assistance network. The long-term vision of the Small Business Network of the Americas is to connect the small and medium business network of the entire Western Hemisphere and promote trade among network members.

UTSA continues to lead the SBDC expansion in the Americas. The next step is connecting small and medium-size businesses of the growing network through SBDCGlobal, the online trade platform.

>> Learn more about the development of SBDCs abroad at the SBDC Global website.

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The UTSA International Trade Center is one of the largest and most successful trade assistance organizations in Texas. It helps companies become globally competitive through technical trade consulting, customized market research and innovative training programs. The center is a specialty SBDC program in the South-West Texas Border SBDC Network. Follow us on Twitter (@TexasTrade) and like us on Facebook.