CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Around 100 participants representing area small businesses and startups attended the Coastal Bend Business Innovation Center’s first “Where is the Money?” event held May 5. During the program, small business owners were able to discuss financial resources with 17 sources of funding ranging from funding for debt to government programs for grants.
“Local business owners benefitted today from exposure to such a broad range of funding sources,” said Dr. John Gamble, Dean of the College of Business at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. “This event highlights the workshops, programs and services provided by the Coastal Bend Business Innovation Center that help small and startup businesses achieve their goals.”
Each of the lenders was given three to five minutes to pitch their funding opportunities to the audience. Dr. K. Mark Weaver, Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship at TAMU-CC, and Dr. Kent Byus, Chair of the Department of Management and Marketing at the College of Business at TAMU-CC, were on hand to facilitate and generate questions to the lenders from the audience during the question-and-answer segment of the event.
“The No. 1 problem small businesses have is a lack of money,” said Byus. “The best ideas are not done because people don’t have enough money. If we can help provide capital to these small businesses, they can grow, provide more jobs and sustain the local economic life flow.”
Weaver has experience organizing various business events. He has facilitated similar functions at Louisiana State University, South Alabama University and Rowan University in New Jersey.
“This was a unique business event,” said Weaver. “Usually, small business are going out to pitch to lenders why they should invest in them. This time, it’s the other way around. These lenders were making pitches to the borrowers. They were asking ‘what can we do for you?’”
Lenders, who came from across Texas representing Austin, San Antonio and Houston, included Business & Community Lenders of Texas, the U.S. Small Business Administration, Mass Venture and People Fund.
“We are excited to see entrepreneurship on the rise in this economy,” said Chris Rys, Management Analyst of the U.S. Economic Development Administration based in Austin, Texas. “It’s critical we create a supportive environment for small business and an economic ecosystem built on community and helping one another.”
Due to the inaugural event’s popularity, organizers plan to move to a larger venue to accommodate more small business owners in the future.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi established the Business Innovation Center in 2009 to promote higher education, research commercialization and economic development. A key component of the Center is its proven programs that assist companies at different stages of development to accelerate their growth and ensure long-term success. Since its inception, the Business Innovation Center has helped more than 135 companies and, in 2015, current clients reported the equivalent of 780 full-time jobs, over $2.7 million dollars in annual salaries, and $6.5 million in annual revenues. To learn more about the Business Innovation Center, go to http://www.innovation4texas.com/.