The City of San Antonio’s Economic Development Department has announced its continued commitment to the development of the small business community in San Antonio by partnering with Alamo Colleges and Accion Texas Inc. to launch the Business Empowerment Plan, which can be found at www.BeSanAntonio.com.
“Small businesses represent 97 percent of all employer firms, both in the State of Texas and the San Antonio metropolitan area. The Business Empowerment Plan provides these firms the tools they need to be successful and prosper in today’s competitive markets,” said Gloria A. Merrell, Chair of the City of San Antonio’s Small Business Advisory Committee.
The Business Empowerment Plan is structured in two phases. Phase I is the Small Business Education Boot Camp. Phase II consists of two programs; the Mentor Protégé Program and the Bonding Assistance Program.
The Mentor Protégé Program provides guidance and advice to qualifying businesses in areas such as administration, organization structure and operations management. The Bonding Assistance Program helps small businesses build or repair their credit in order to become bondable, thus increasing their likelihood of being awarded city contracts.
“Working with the program is a great way to learn about the system, network with other businesses and explore business opportunities,” said Debi Lamb-Burrows of Penguin Suits, a boutique advertising and marketing company in San Antonio, a graduate of the Business Empowerment Plan.
In conjunction with the Business Empowerment Plan, Accion Texas Inc. a non-profit small business lender, has announced the second phase to the plan’s Bonding Assistance Program that will provide critical capital to traditionally underserved small business owners.
“Qualifying for bonding has been one of the biggest obstacles for small businesses to be able to access municipal contracts,” said Patrick Shearer, San Antonio Market President for Accion Texas Inc.
Interested companies sign up for the Bonding Assistance Program through the City of San Antonio, complete the required courses and meet some financial requirements. In turn, Accion will issue a letter of credit to the bonding company for up to 20 percent of the bonding amount and a line of credit, if needed, for a City of San Antonio contract of up to $600,000. The letter of credit and line of credit could enhance a small business owner’s credit profile and improve the probability of obtaining a bond.
“By providing a hand up to contractors that can show they are qualified to do the work, we can expand the pool of contractors capable of meeting the City’s needs. This benefits both the contractors as well as the City,” Shearer added.
Interested businesses can visit the Business Empowerment Plan’s new website, www.BeSanAntonio.com, to find course descriptions, information about the Bonding Assistance and Mentor Protégé programs and applications.