Texas State University is collaborating with The Greater San Marcos Partnership to produce a series of events designed to boost economic development in the region by encouraging entrepreneurialism and growth in the technology industry.
The Greater San Marcos Partnership is a public-private organization focused on job creation and the education of community leaders and the general population in Hays and Caldwell Counties, said GSMP President Adriana Cruz.
“Our goal is to really educate people on what our economy is looking like right now,” Cruz said. “On its strengths, some of the challenges that we face and what the opportunities are for the future.”
Texas State’s Small Business Development Center has teamed up with GSMP to carry out that goal by offering the Ready-Set-Launch Program, a free beginner’s workshop on entrepreneurialism, Cruz said.
“Entrepreneurism and small business development is something that we are focusing on as part of a sustained economic development strategy,” Cruz said.
The workshops are held every two months at the GSMP facility, Cruz said.
There were eight businesses represented at the first workshop, with industries ranging from restaurants, fitness and construction, and home health care companies, said Victoria Botello, director of business retention and expansion for GSMP.
“We were at full capacity for this event, and we hope to offer the workshop every other month,” Botello said. “But depending on the demand from the community we may offer the event once a month.”
Attendees not only learn general topics to start a business, but they leave with homework to prepare them for their first visit with an advisor from the SBDC, Botello said.
Donna Taylor, grant specialist for the SBDC, said the workshops are intended to give entrepreneurs a deeper understanding of what it takes to succeed as small business owner, while offering them resources and support.
Topics covered in the workshop include the mechanics of structuring a business, such as determining tax responsibilities, obtaining the required licenses and permits and fulfilling federal and state employer responsibilities, Botello said.
“Statistics say that approximately eight percent of an economy’s jobs are going to come from their existing business or the formation of new businesses,” Cruz said. “So we certainly want to put forth effort and provide resources for those up-and-coming small businesses and really try to make San Marcos a center for entrepreneurship.”
In addition to its collaboration with the Small Business Development Center, GSMP is partnering with the McCoy College of Business to host the ninth annual Greater San Marcos Economic Outlook Conference, said William Chittenden, associate professor of finance and economics at Texas State.
This year’s keynote speaker will be Mark Strama, head of Google Fiber, who will be tying in the role of technology to its impact on economic productivity, Chittenden said.
“We work with a lot of technology-based companies and I think the future of our economy will very much be tied to that,” Cruz said. “We stand in a very unique place with the presence of Texas State University, the S.T.A.R. Park incubator, and with Austin being so close and such a strong center for technology."
San Marcos and its peripheral communities are in a position to benefit from this proximity even more so than other Central Texas communities, Cruz said.
"I think [the conference] helps raise the profile of the college and the university," Chittenden said. “In the past, we’ve had economics faculty members serve on a conference panel so folks in the community can see that they can explain things in plain english and aren’t just in some ivory tower somewhere."
The Economic Outlook Conference will be held May 22 at the Embassy Suites in San Marcos, Cruz said.
“In general, the programs that we do are a lot stronger if we work together as a group rather than trying to do things individually,” said Cruz. “So we’re really happy to be partnering with Texas State. They’re a phenomenal asset for us.”