San Antonio small business owners and new entrepreneurs don’t have to go it alone. UTSA’s Small Business Development Center works with 35,000 businesses each year, and has now realized an important step in creating a network of trading partners up and down the Western Hemisphere.
According to Bob McKinley, UTSA’s associate vice-president of economic development, San Antonio’s Small Business Development Center sees new opportunities for their clients to go global in Latin America.
McKinley said UTSA’s SBDC office is uniquely positioned to market south of the border.
“Understanding that 95 percent of our consumers are outside of our borders, and we are limited. As strong as the U.S. market is, there’s only 5 percent here," said McKinley. "President Obama has asked for a national export initiative to double exports by 2015.”
McKinley’s office is working on building commerce with Latin American countries in several ways. UTSA’s SBDC has opened 100 new centers in Mexico so far, based on the successful U.S. model but run by local personnel.
It is capitalizing on the recent U.S. trade agreement and UTSA President Ricardo Romo signed a landmark agreement last week with Brazil’s SEBRAE (Serviço Brasileiro de Apoio a Micro e Pequenas Empresas), that country’s equivalent of our SBDCs.
McKinley said the Economic Development office at UTSA has been cultivating the relationship with Brazil for three years.
“To connect their 1.1 million small businesses with our trade platform to provide access to business deals with Brazil, which is the 5th largest economy in the world, 200-million population, and the largest economy in South America,” said McKinley.
Meanwhile, the SBDC has trainers in Panama to open a network of SBDCs there, and the next stop is Guatemala.