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UHV SBDC forum offers advice about microlending, rural business

Farhang Niroomand Jean Smith Joe Humphreys Lisa Barr Vic Morgan Rosa Rios Valdez

Running a small business requires many things; at the top of the list are a good labor force and sufficient capital. With that in mind, the University of Houston-Victoria Small Business Development Center is hosting the Money for Rural Business forum on Tuesday.

“Personally, I am happy to see this forum coming to Victoria,” said Farhang Niroomand, dean of the UHV School of Business Administration. “Access to capital is vital to all businesses, large and small.”

The free event will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the UHV University Center Multi-Purpose Room, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St., and will include panels, roundtable discussions and a keynote speaker. It is being coordinated through the help of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Office of Comptroller of the Currency.

The third annual event is part of the three agencies’ community development programs. The first year’s forum focused on the state of the economy, while the second year was about affordable housing, which has become an important issue in the Victoria area because of increased Eagle Ford Shale activity.

“This year, one of the needs we’ve seen is microlending, the ability for a small business to get what some might consider a small amount of money, but the business owner needs the loan to build his business and to grow,” said Jean Smith, UHV SBDC training coordinator. “We’ve tried to look at financing from a variety of viewpoints, not just conventional perspectives like at a bank, but also private investors, crowdfunding and local economic development corporations. That explains why we have a variety of speakers this time.”

“Many small-business owners are not aware of sources of funding outside traditional banks and family members,” UHV SBDC Director Joe Humphreys said. “Traditional banks are typically more difficult to get the smaller loans and loans for startup companies. Nontraditional lenders are another resource for business owners to look to for the needed capital for their business.”

Some individuals use micro and specialty lenders as a means of improving their credit ratings, said Lisa Barr, associate director and forum emcee. Microlenders will sometimes offer $500 loans, which, if paid back on time, will help someone build or rebuild his credit, then seek larger loans.

“The forum’s focus will be funding for the smaller and rural businesses, which make up a large part of our service area,” Humphreys said.

Registration for the forum begins at 9 a.m., followed by a welcome at 9:30 a.m. from UHV Interim President Vic Morgan and representatives from each of the three agencies. Rosa Rios Valdez, president and CEO of the Austin office for Business Community Lending of Texas, will be the keynote speaker and will talk about innovations in microlending during the lunch hour. Closing remarks will be made at 2:45 p.m. by Al Coleman, a community affairs specialist for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Other topics for roundtable discussions and panels include:

  • Opportunities in Rural Microbusiness Lending
  • Power Up with Certifications and Contracting
  • Innovations in Finance: Feeding the Pipeline
  • Maximizing Local Resources and Best Practices in Small Business and Economic Development
  • Small Business Resources Roundtable

“The Small Business Development Center is one of UHV and the Victoria area’s most important economic resources,” Niroomand said. “Microlending is a resource that isn’t well known that could benefit a number of businesses in our area. I hope to see a large number of small businesses take advantage of the information that will be presented at this forum.”

The forum will help current and future area entrepreneurs, Smith said. She encourages attendance by those interested in starting their own business or small-business owners who want to grow and expand their companies.

“This will be a huge help for someone who wants to start a business and wants to know what alternative sources of funding are out there,” Smith said. “There are a tremendous number of ways you can finance these days.”

Interested entrepreneurs and business owners can register for the event online at www.uhvsbdc.org. A light breakfast and lunch will be served. A full schedule is available on the registration website.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973, offers courses leading to 70 bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degree programs and concentrations in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as a teaching center in Katy, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities, and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.