Free business counseling and training available where entrepreneurs live

Aspiring entrepreneurs and existing business operators now have an easier way to get help from the University of Houston-Victoria Small Business Development Center.


Business development specialists have started maintaining regular business hours at satellite centers in all 10 surrounding counties as well as the home office at 3402 N. Ben Wilson St. in Victoria. Previously, business counselors journeyed out into the region by appointment.


Satellite centers are based in chambers of commerce, economic development corporations, community colleges and generally anywhere else a business counselor can meet with a client. SBDC counselors will man these centers on specific days of the month.


“I’ve had to move a mop bucket to have space to meet with a client in the past,” SBDC Director Joe Harper said. “I’ll happily do it again if it will help grow the economy one business at a time.”


The Victoria SBDC has a documented track record of creating new businesses, jobs and prosperity through free counseling and business training, he said.


The SBDC helps new businesses start and existing businesses expand through a combination of consulting and training in areas like market identification, raising capital and developing a business plan, Harper said. In the past, the agency even has helped people buy and sell businesses, and pass family firms on to the next generation.


Along with the new satellite system, the SBDC also is designing and delivering new training programs specifically targeted to area communities, Harper said. These programs will be developed and presented with the cooperation of local business organizations and communities, and presented in the various communities served by the agency.


Through strategic partnerships, the SBDC is taking a more aggressive approach to help revitalize local economies from within by addressing the specific needs of the local business communities.


“Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, and it is our job to strengthen that backbone,” Harper said.


Partnerships with organizations like chambers of commerce, economic development organizations and community colleges bolster those efforts, he said.


“In a time when storefronts are leaving local communities, UHV wants to put a face on Main Street through its SBDC outreach program,” Harper said. “By using a strategy that collaborates with local leadership to create awareness and utilization of the program in the heart of the communities we serve, we can better the lives of everyone in the area.”


The satellite centers and new training programs are the first big step in that direction, he said. Harper, who took over as SBDC director in March, said other new initiatives are now in the planning stages.


The current schedule for the satellite locations is:

County Location Schedule Days Times Business Adviser
Aransas Rockport Chamber Tuesdays 9-4 Joe Humphreys
Bee Beeville Chamber Wednesdays 9-4 Joe Humphreys
Calhoun (To be determined) 2nd & 4th Wednesday 9-4 Phyllis Williams
Dewitt Cuero Chamber TBD 9-4 Lisa Barr
Goliad Goliad Chamber 1st Monday 9-4 Joe Humphreys
Gonzales Gonzales Chamber 3rd Thursday 9-4 Lisa Barr
Jackson Edna Chamber 1st & 3rd Tuesday 9-4 Phyllis Williams
Karnes (TBD) 3rd Friday 9-4 Joe Humphreys
Lavaca Hallettsville Chamber 1st & 3rd Wednesday 9-4 Lisa Barr
Refugio Refugio Chamber 2nd & 4th Thursday 9-4 Joe Humphreys


For more information or to arrange a session with a business adviser, contact the SBDC at (361) 575-8944 or toll free at (877) 895-SBDC.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs 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 an instructional site in Katy, Texas, 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.

Thomas Doyle 361-570-4342