Tuesday, May 24, 2022

UTSA’s Small Business Development Center provides West Side economic boost

UTSA’s Small Business Development Center provides West Side economic boost

UTSA's Small Business Development Center is located at the Durango Building at Downtown Campus.

JANUARY 8, 2021 — Adding to UTSA’s continuing efforts to deepen connections with San Antonio’s West Side and lend assistance to meet the unique needs of the neighborhood, the UTSA Small Business Development Center/South-West Texas Border Small Business Development Center Network provided much-needed economic impact on the West Side in 2020.

During a trying pandemic year, the SBDC’s advising and training efforts helped several West Side businesses stay afloat and even helped a few expand.

“I mean, this is really when the community—especially the business community—needed us the most,” said Roger Enriquez, executive director of the Westside Community Partnerships Initiative. “We’re talking about tire shops. We’re talking about panaderias. We’re talking about small, family-owned businesses.”

“We want UTSA to harness its human, intellectual, and economic power into one discrete part of town that has faced challenges for many generations.”

During fiscal year 2020, from October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020, the SBDC supplied the following assistance to small businesses in zip codes on San Antonio’s West Side:

  • 127 businesses advised
  • 14 jobs created
  • 308 jobs retained
  • 6 businesses expanded
  • $1.27 million in capital infusion
  • $866,809 in COVID disaster recovery loans
  • $104,987 to Historically Underutilized Businesses for goods and services

The SBDC arguably fulfilled more economic needs than ever before in 2020. Between late March and the end of May, the SBDC team spent more than 1,200 hours dedicated specifically to COVID-19-related relief funding requests—ranging from quick responses to 15-minute walkthroughs to two-hour meetings—as the pandemic pounded small businesses statewide. In April alone, the SBDC was fielding six times as many calls as usual, adding more advisors simply to keep up.

Assistance on the West Side was no exception. Whether advisors were providing guidance to a longtime client such as the Mariachi Connection or connecting a new client like Element Kombucha to resources through its expansion and a growing relationship with H-E-B, the SBDC’s economic impact on the West Side was significant. While most business owners took advantage of the SBDC’s free, confidential one-on-one advising, many others increasingly attended virtual workshops and training programs (97% of which are provided at no cost and the remainder at a low cost).

Even with a growing footprint in the neighborhood, SBDC director Richard Sifuentes aims to do more to lift the West Side economy. “Although we do help a lot of people and we have these services available at basically no cost, we’d like to help more small business owners and entrepreneurs on the West Side who haven’t taken advantage,” he said.

To that end, the SBDC has cultivated a close relationship with the Westside Development Corporation. The organization’s mission is to foster economic development, promote the development and redevelopment of real estate within its target area, create viable urban communities, and preserve the character, culture and history of the West Side. “We work very closely with the Westside Development Corporation. I know their staff members and they know me,” Sifuentes said. “They’re very involved in that community and we’re always happy to serve any clients they send to us.”

Both entities are part of the burgeoning Westside Business Alliance. With the support of District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales, this alliance—which also includes partners like the City of San Antonio, the West San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, LiftFund and SCORE Mentors San Antonio—connects business owners in the West Side to create advocacy networks and empowers them to promote projects that positively impact their businesses and communities. Sifuentes said the alliance has been beneficial for UTSA and the SBDC because they often learn about larger issues on the West Side as they introduce community members to the university’s resources.

As the pandemic fades away in the near future and events return to physical spaces, the SBDC plans to stage economic workshops and training sessions at UTSA’s Westside Community Center at 1310 Guadalupe St. Creating pathways to economic prosperity is one of many goals of the university’s Westside Community Partnerships Initiative, which further aims to bolster educational excellence in the area, engage in community-based research and advocacy, and foster community-campus engagement.

“We want UTSA to harness its human, intellectual, and economic power into one discrete part of town that has faced challenges for many generations,” Enriquez said. “We’re not going to solve these things overnight, but we’re committed to being there for the long haul and being part of that solution.”

Shea Conner

UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
the official news source
of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu.

UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.




University of Texas at San Antonio receives ‘transformational’ $40M gift

UTSA’s Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

UTSA’s Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA’s Core Values

We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

UTSA’S Destinations

UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.

Our Commitment to Inclusivity

The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.