APRIL 15, 2020 — The UTSA Institute for Economic Development today launched the Small Business Development Center COVID-19 Business Recovery Accelerator (SBDC COBRA) to help small businesses weather the financial hardships caused by the coronavirus pandemic. COBRA is the only recovery accelerator of its kind in Texas to help stabilize and rebuild the small-business economy.
COBRA will provide small businesses with the counseling and resources to pursue loans from the financial industry and to begin recovering from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The accelerator will serve businesses in Bexar County and 10 surrounding counties. It will be funded by a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
“For nearly 40 years UTSA’s economic development programs have been creating jobs, growing businesses and strengthening the economy,” said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. “UTSA is committed to leveraging its knowledge enterprise to support the community in this time of need. I can think of no better way to do that than to pave the way for small businesses to get emergency financial relief.”
COBRA will act as a single “front door” to help small businesses access relief, recovery, rebooting and resilience resources. To provide businesses with relief, the accelerator will help them navigate federal funding opportunities, such as the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program and its Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance. It will also assess the applications of businesses that have been denied emergency funding and help them reapply.
To reboot businesses and help them recover from the damage of the pandemic, the accelerator will provide confidential, no-cost consulting in finance, human resources, operations, marketing, and business and strategic planning with the goal of winning back and finding new customers.
“Thank you to the UTSA leadership for launching COBRA in an effort to get help to where it is needed,” said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff. “I know that our community will come out of this stronger than ever.”
To make South Texas’ economy more resilient, COBRA will also help small businesses scale up their operations and become more competitive through importing and exporting, contracting, market research, technology commercialization and emergency preparedness.
“Small businesses are the foundation of San Antonio’s economy. UTSA’s accelerator to help small-business owners get back in the game will be a vital step on our road to recovery,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg.
UTSA will work with the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, San Antonio District SBA Office, minority business organizations and chambers of commerce to provide support to affected businesses.
“At the start of the crisis SAEDF mobilized the business community to uncover the greatest needs and the barriers to those needs. COBRA is the kind of solution employers asked for, and UTSA answered the call,” said Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, SAEDF chief executive officer.
On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the largest economic relief package in American history.
From the funding provided to the SBA through the CARES Act, the South-West Texas Border SBDC Network, a 79-county network that includes the San Antonio SBDC and spans the Gulf Coast and Central, West and South Texas, will receive an expected total of $4.3 million. In addition to the $1.2 million allocated to COBRA, the SBDC Network will distribute $3.1 million to its nine field centers outside of San Antonio so they can add staff aligned with COBRA’s efforts.
“In the absence of a vaccine or proven treatment for COVID-19 along with the uncertainty of the length of public health measures, such as shelter-in-place, the San Antonio area business and economic environment will continue to face significant hardship,” said Rod McSherry, UTSA associate vice president for innovation and economic development. “Now is the time to support small businesses and not only see them through to recovery but also increase their resilience for the long term.”
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