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.”
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:
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.”
Join us to kickoff the spring semester! We will have events happening all week and please participate in all that you can. Learn about upcoming opportunities within your academic department in virtual sessions with faculty, alumni, and student organizations. This is a great way to get involved in the UTSA COE/CACP community.Virtual Event
The Adobe Creative Campus Kickoff will introduce students to Adobe software and how they can use it to produce professional content for their courses. Students will learn about UTSA’s Adobe Creative Campus program and how they can access the software. Time permitting, there will be an overview of Adobe Creative Cloud.Virtual Event
Want to study abroad but aren't sure where to start? Our Study Abroad Information Session is a great way to hear about the options available to those interested in pursuing a global academic experience! Here you can learn about program types, scholarships, and other essential information!Virtual Event
Tune in to learn about the best picks for having an easy and fun digital Spring. We will be introducing you to the new Blackboard experience and showing you how to access essential digital tools that are free! In this session, you’ll find resources that are UTSA exclusive.Virtual Event
Zoom is now available to all UTSA faculty, staff and students as part of the newly acquired university site license! Join us as we review the features best practices for using this software for education and think about the best way to use it to work with fellow students, provide opportunities for student organizations, and more.Virtual Event
The COE/CACP Student Success Center will help build your resume of experiences outside the classroom. Join us to learn about what we do, upcoming events, and how to get involved in the colleges.Virtual Event
Meet with Writing Center tutors to learn how we can help you with every stage of the writing process for your writing projects. Then learn about how to communicate a message effectively using Adobe Spark. Some of your creations will be featured on our Writing Center social media platforms!Virtual Event
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