Texas Border Business
By Roberto Hugo González
In the Rio Grande Valley, a region celebrated for its rich culture and traditions, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) has quietly led a series of groundbreaking initiatives. These endeavors have achieved remarkable success in promoting community development and nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit that thrives in this corner of Texas.
At the heart of these initiatives lies the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a vital resource for individuals and organizations seeking guidance on starting or expanding their businesses. UTRGV’s SBDC offers individualized, one-on-one business advice and diverse training seminars on specialized business topics.
Veronica Gonzales, Senior Vice President for Government and Community Relations at UTRGV, and Ron Garza, Associate Vice President of Workforce and Economic Development, are at the forefront of these visionary initiatives. They graciously provided insights into the invaluable role of the SBDC with Texas Border Business.
Veronica explained, “Maria Juarez leads the Small Business Development Center and is part of the SBA (Small Business Administration). It has been a cornerstone of our community for many years. At the SBDC, we provide personalized, one-on-one assistance to small business owners who aspire to either launch a new venture or expand their existing businesses. Our experienced advisors work closely with these individuals to help them develop comprehensive business plans, strategize on the best approach to start or grow their businesses, and address crucial aspects like funding.”
The SBDC team collaborates with aspiring entrepreneurs, discussing potential funding sources such as the SBA, Lift Funds, or private financing, depending on each business’s unique circumstances and requirements. For many startups, access to traditional bank loans can be challenging due to the need for established financial records. In such cases, the SBDC assists in identifying alternative sources of financing that may better suit their needs.
Veronica highlighted the importance of comprehensive training and preparation for small business owners, emphasizing that success often depends on understanding the business’s nuances. She pointed out that many entrepreneurs, particularly those in fields like the restaurant industry, possess exceptional skills in their craft but may need more strategic planning and financial judgment for long-term success.
The SBDC’s commitment to hands-on, one-to-one advising sets it apart, as it provides tailored guidance to address specific challenges and opportunities small business owners face. Whether individuals require assistance with marketing strategies, financial management, or legal considerations, the SBDC is equipped to provide the necessary expertise.
During the pandemic, the SBDC adapted to the changing landscape by offering online courses focused on digital marketing and e-commerce. These initiatives aimed to help businesses adapt to the evolving marketplace, especially as online platforms became increasingly important. The SBDC remains flexible in its approach, with the capacity to offer in-person and online training depending on community needs.
UTRGV’s Small Business Development Center serves as a cornerstone of support for entrepreneurs in the Rio Grande Valley. Its commitment to providing personalized guidance and its diverse range of training programs empowers individuals and organizations to navigate the complexities of the business world successfully. Whether you’re launching a startup or seeking to expand an existing venture, the SBDC stands ready to provide the resources and expertise needed for business growth and prosperity.