Inside the Durango building on the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) downtown campus, photos of small business owners adorn the walls of the UTSA Institute for Economic Development. Clients' smiles gleam from behind the plexiglass frames that encase the portraits.
In 2016, the Institute served over 41,000 businesses and generated more than $1.9 billion in direct economic impact. Comprised of ten centers and pro-grams including the South-West Texas Border SBDC Network, its comprehensive tool-kit for business and com-munity development spans multiple industries: start-up and scale-up businesses, technology commercialization, manufacturing, high-growth minority businesses, international trade and investment, government contracting, rural development, applied economics and development policy research, and shale energy development.
But the true impact of the Institute does not rest in its numbers or diverse range of services, it resides within the successes of the many clients whose entrepreneurial goals are realized daily alongside their business advisors.
In 2001, Jesus "Jesse" Mireles, III opened Mireles Party Ice, which evolved from early roots in San Antonio. With the help of his father in 1974, Jesse and his wife opened a grocery store that became the largest keg distributor in San Antonio. But focusing the business on ice manufacturing led the family on a journey from packaging crushed ice into 40 lb. paper bags in the 1980's, to building their first ice plant in 2001. Vice president Jesse Mireles IV contacted the Institute's San Antonio Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which worked on the company's business plan, loan preparation, and more. Today, the company is growing into its second location with the capacity to produce up to 350 tons of ice daily.
With its diverse range of services, the Institute can help grow a business locally or expand it to the ranks of the United States military. When Scott and Maricela Gray formed Elevate Systems, they contacted the SBDC Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) to acquire appropriate certifications and build a resource network. Based in San Antonio, Elevate Systems specializes in engineering design, reverse and re-engineering, 3D modeling and analysis, additive manufacturing (3D printing), and more. With PTAC's assistance, Elevate Systems obtained contracts to complete projects for the U.S. Army and Air Force including 3D modeling and structural analysis on the Blackhawk and Apache helicopters.
The Institute's work does not stop there. Expanding services to every state in the U.S. was a goal for one manufacturing company based in Fort Worth. Danny J. Adair acquired U.S. Ply, Inc. in 2004, and while the company has become one of the largest privately owned manufacturers of modified bitumen roll roofing materials in the U.S., it attributes much of its success to the Institute's Southwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center. The Center facilitated product testing and employee training to operate advanced manufacturing machinery, which positioned U.S. Ply, Inc. to access new markets. As a direct result, the company's roofing materials met approval standards in key states and U.S. Ply, Inc. now services the entire country.
Beyond one-on-one consulting work with business owners, the Institute also collaborates with domestic municipalities and foreign governments to strengthen economies. In January 2014, the Institute's SBDC Rural Business Program provided a gap analysis to the City of La Grange Economic Development Corporation, which facilitated a proposal to Sutherlands Home Improvement and Building Materials Corporation to occupy a vacant building in La Grange as a new retailer. Utilizing the gap analysis in various presentations to real estate agents and Sutherlands, the City welcomed Sutherlands to its community in the fall of 2014, creating 25 jobs for La Grange.
Year-round, the Institute's impact also extends beyond U.S. borders to foreign governments and aspiring business owners across 22 countries in the Western Hemisphere. Leading the expansion of the Small Business Network of the Americas(SBNA), which leverages the U.S. SBDC model that has evolved over 35 years, the Institute's International Trade Center (ITC) is driving job creation and broad-based economic growth through its SBDCGlobal program. SBDCGlob-al assists foreign small businesses start and grow their operations, while also serving as a potential market for the U.S. Currently, 136 SBDCs are operating abroad with more than 182 SBDCs expected to launch by 2018. These SBDCs have afforded more than 30,000 business owners in Latin America the opportunity to receive advising, grow their businesses, and create jobs for their communities while boosting their local economies.
What brings the work of the Institute full circle is student experiential learning. With more than 35 students employed at the Institute, students are the international market research specialists, foreign investment specialists, and business economic research associates who provide business advisors with critical information. Whether gathering data, producing in-depth market research and analysis, developing investment business plans, or presenting research results to clients, students play a vital role. By assisting clients reach full potential, students reach their own potential through incomparable service-learning.
With every new opportunity to yield impact, the Institute is driven by the many clients who sit at the core of its mission to "Build the Economy One Business at a Time."VISIT WEBSITE
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Community Connect magazine is an annual publication produced by the Office of the Vice President for Community Services (VPCS). The mission of Community Services is to extend UTSA beyond its campuses into San Antonio and South Texas through public service, extension, outreach and community education. This mission is accomplished through a variety of programs and initiatives, some of which are showcased on this website.Make a Gift