New FTC website helps small businesses

By: Tom Pahl, Acting Director, Bureau of Consumer Protection | May 9, 2017 11:24AM

When scammers and hackers attack small businesses, it hurts not only the businesses’ reputations and bottom line, but also the integrity of the marketplace. Today, FTC Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen announced a new FTC website, FTC.gov/SmallBusiness, to help business owners avoid scams, protect their computers and networks, and keep their customers’ and employees’ data safe. If you own a business you’ll want to check it out.

At FTC.gov/SmallBusiness you’ll find:

  • Tips on how to avoid scams that target businesses
  • Advice to help you protect your customers’ and employees’ sensitive data
  • Videos that show what you can do to secure your business’s networks

You can also find the FTC’s newest article Small Business Computer Security Basics, which has tips to help companies protect their files and devices, train employees to think twice before sharing account information, and keep their wireless network protected. The article also tells you what to do if a hacker gets into your computers or networks.

So go to FTC.gov/SmallBusiness, bookmark it, and visit it often. And subscribe to the FTC’s Business Blog to stay connected.

GCGV LAUNCHES LOCAL BUSINESS INITIATIVE

PORTLAND, TX – Gulf Coast Growth Ventures (GCGV) today announced the launch of the Local Business Initiative, a program designed to connect local businesses with opportunities created by the proposed GCGV plastics manufacturing plant. The initiative, a facet of GCGV’s Good Neighbor Program, affords local businesses the opportunity to get “pre-screened” to compete for work.

“Our project provides exciting possibilities with job creation, economic growth, and billions of dollars in business activity,” said John Mabry, GCGV Operations Manager.  “Through our Local Business Initiative, we are fulfilling our commitment to help local businesses be part of it. Once pre-screened, local businesses will be able to compete for opportunities with our prime contractors.”

Interested businesses should visit www.GulfCoastGV.com/localbusiness-initiative for details on beginning the application process.

“I am thrilled that the Gulf Coast Growth Ventures project is making local businesses a priority,” said Ann Fierova, Director of Small Business Development Center at Del Mar College. “Connecting local businesses with work prospects associated with this project is what dreams are made of for small businesses! We are thankful to be part of the partnership for this innovative approach to engaging the local business community.”

Foster Edwards, Executive Director of the San Patricio EDC said, “This is exactly what San Patricio County needs. In recent years, our county has been dealt several difficult circumstances that has resulted in higher unemployment rates. I am glad to see GCGV focus on local businesses – especially those in this county.”

Businesses that submit complete applications by June 30, 2017 will be considered for placement on the Pre-Screened Local Vendor List, which will be provided to the project’s Engineering, Procurement and Construction contractors as they pre-qualify contractors, vendors and service providers for the competitive bid lists. Applicants are encouraged to initiate the process well in advance of the June 30, 2017 deadline to ensure timely completion.

GCGV has hired Veriforce, an expert in contractor screening, to facilitate the application process. A Veriforce representative will work with each applicant to provide guidance and assist with completing the application. GCGV will cover Veriforce application fees incurred by eligible Nueces and San Patricio County applicants. Businesses in Refugio, Aransas, Bee, Live Oak, Jim Wells, and Kleberg counties are also encouraged to apply, but are responsible for application fees.

The Good Neighbor Program includes initiatives for businesses, job seekers and others in the community. Additional opportunities will be launched in the coming months.

GCGV is a project proposed by ExxonMobil and SABIC to build a plastics manufacturing plant in the Gregory-Portland area. The multi-billion dollar proposed investment would create thousands of jobs and stimulate economic growth in the region. The project is expected to have 6,000 jobs at peak construction and, once operational, over 600 permanent jobs with an average salary of $90,000 per year.

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About ExxonMobil Chemical Company

ExxonMobil Chemical Company is one of the largest petrochemical companies worldwide. The company holds leadership positions in some of the largest-volume and highest-growth commodity petrochemical products in the world. ExxonMobil Chemical Company has manufacturing capacity in every major region of the world, serving large and growing markets. More than 90 percent of the Company’s chemical capacity is integrated with large refineries or natural gas processing plants. To learn more, visit http://www.exxonmobilchemical.com.

About SABIC

SABIC ranks among the world’s top petrochemical companies, and is among the world’s market leaders in the production of polyethylene, polypropylene, advanced thermoplastics, glycols, methanol and fertilizers. SABIC manufactures on a global scale in Saudi Arabia, the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific. The company operates in  more than 50 countries across the world with 40,000 employees worldwide. To learn more, visit www.sabic.com.

CAUTIONARY STATEMENT:

Statements of future events or conditions in this release are forward-looking statements.  Actual future results, including project plans, schedules, and outcomes and future market positioning could differ materially due to changes in market conditions affecting the oil, gas and petrochemical industries or long-term price levels for oil, gas, refined products and petrochemicals; political or regulatory developments, including the granting of required permits and any changes in environmental laws; the occurrence and duration of economic recessions; the actions of competitors; technical or operating factors; the outcome of commercial negotiations; and other factors discussed under the heading “Factors Affecting Future Results” in the Investors section of our website (www.exxonmobil.com) and in Item 1A of our most recent Form 10-K.

 

SBA Announces National Small Business Week 2017

by Melanie Ossandon

SBA_NSBW2016_Home

This year’s National Small Business Week will be held from April 30-May 6, 2017.

Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.

More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.

As part of National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration takes the opportunity to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from all 50 states and U.S. territories. Every day, they’re working to grow small businesses, create 21st century jobs, drive innovation, and increase America’s global competitiveness.

Read more about National Small Business Week!

Statewide conference to encourage entrepreneurship and economic development in rural communities

UTSA Letterhead for BlogFor more information, contact
Jennilee Garza, Senior Communications Coordinator Institute for Economic Development
Phone: 210-458-2958 or jennilee.garza@utsa.edu

Statewide conference to encourage entrepreneurship and economic development in rural communities

With more than 300 attendees from 90+ Texas cities, the Texas Rural Challenge is the largest conference of its kind in the state

(San Antonio, February 20, 2017) – Early registration is now open for the Texas Rural Challenge, an annual conference hosted by the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Institute for Economic Development–Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Rural Business Program.

With a focus on economic development in rural Texas, the SBDC Rural Business Program has partnered with the City of Waco and numerous agencies across Texas to launch its 8th annual Texas Rural Challenge (TRC) conference in Waco, TX from June 29-30.

This year’s conference, “Empowering Rural Texas,” will focus on small business growth, community and economic development, and leadership. The two-day conference will feature keynote speakers, workshops and business competitions. It will also promote best practices and offer collaborative opportunities to help Texas’ rural businesses and communities thrive.

Texas Strong, one of the conference’s featured competitions, will test how effectively entrepreneurs are able to fast-pitch their businesses. Texas SBDC clients who have developed innovative products or services to benefit rural communities can participate if they are nominated by a Texas SBDC advisor. Finalists will also have the chance to win a Governor’s Small Business Award.

“Texas Strong opened my eyes to all the amazing things happening in our rural communities and made me proud to be from a rural community,” said Robert Likarish, 2016 Texas Strong first place winner and CEO of Ironroot Republic Distillery.

The conference will also include the Texas Student Challenge, a fast-pitch and business plan competition encouraging entrepreneurship and technological innovation. The competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students attending any Texas college or university. In addition to a monetary prize, winners will receive in-kind services from Texas SBDCs.

“Competing in the Texas Student Challenge was a wonderful experience through which I gained such valuable insight on how college students can become successful in business,” said Manish Patel, 2016 Student Challenge third place winner.

The State of Texas is comprised of 254 counties, including 177 that are considered rural and have less than 50,000 in population.

“Rural communities account for more than half the State of Texas. With the immense growth that the Texas Rural Challenge has experienced over the past seven years, we invite interested partners, entrepreneurs, students and the general public to get involved in the only statewide conference that caters specifically to Texas rural communities,” said SBDC Rural Business Program director, Gil Gonzalez.

“The Texas Rural Challenge conference is an outstanding event and a real showcase for the economic vitality and strength of rural communities. The innovation and resilience we see in rural small businesses in Texas is a real beacon for SBDC efforts nationwide. Thanks to UTSA and the South-West Texas Border SBDC Region for their leadership in this effort to energize rural entrepreneurship,” said America’s SBDC president, Tee Rowe.

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Register for the Texas Rural Challenge at texasruralchallenge.org

Follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/TexasRuralChallenge

Learn more about the SBDC Rural Business Program

About the UTSA Institute for Economic Development

The UTSA Institute for Economic Development is dedicated to growing businesses, creating jobs and fostering economic development. Focused on building the economy one business at a time, the Institute consists of 10 centers and programs that provide professional business advising, technical training, research and strategic planning for entrepreneurs, business owners and community leaders. These programs serve Greater San Antonio, the Texas-Mexico border area as well as regional, national and international stakeholders. Together with the federal, state and local governments, and private businesses, the UTSA Institute for Economic Development fosters economic and community development in support of UTSA’s community engagement mission. In 2016, the Institute generated direct regional economic impact of 7,517 jobs, started 591 new businesses, $447 million in new financing, $78 million in new tax revenue and exceeded $1.4 billion in new sales, exports and contracts. For more information, visit www.iedtexas.org.

SBDC Day

SBDC Day is a national, collective proclamation of the success and impact America’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) have across the nation in economic development and the small businesses community. The first America’s SBDC Day will take place on Wednesday, March 22, 2017.

 

SBDC Day will unite the nearly 1,000 SBDC centers across the country and the hundreds of thousands of clients they serve by sharing, in real time, the success stories and notable impacts SBDCs collectively have on the small business community at large. This special day will be celebrated with social media campaigns, public relations initiatives, online and in-person events and more. To learn more about what your local SBDC is doing to celebrate, locate them here.

 

America’s SBDC represents America’s nationwide network of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) – the most comprehensive small business assistance network in the United States and its territories.

 

Business has changed dramatically in the last 37 years, from the introduction of new technologies to the expansion of global trade. And America’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) network has been there throughout — helping small businesses succeed, and helping aspiring entrepreneurs achieve the American dream of owning their own business.

 

The 63 state and regional Small Business Development Center networks provide free one-on- one consulting to small businesses at nearly 1,000 locations throughout the nation. SBDC clients start a new business every 30 minutes, create a new job every 5 minutes, generate $100,000 in new sales every 7.5 minutes, and raise $100,000 in capital every 11.4 minutes. Job growth for SBDC clients is nearly 10 times greater than job growth for average businesses, and SBDC client sales growth is nearly 4 times greater than sales growth for businesses in general.

 

This initiative is being led by the America’s SBDC Marketing & Communications Committee. For questions on #SBDCDay please contact marketing@americassbdc.org.

 

To learn more about America’s SBDC please visit www.AmericasSBDC.org

Strategies: Make customers fall in love with your biz

Don’t let the heat of new attraction dim; nurture the relationship with your clients.

In February, love is in the air.

After all, February contains Valentine’s Day, American Heart Month, even Love Your Pet Day. But for small-business owners and entrepreneurs, I’m declaring February as Love Your Customers Month.

COLUMN: Give customers something for ‘nothing’
COLUMN: All you need is love … to run your firm

Getting and keeping customers is like any relationship. It takes courtship, commitment, and ongoing communication to keep the spark alive.

Just like any relationship, your relationship with your customers has stages.

Stage 1. “Find somebody to love.” Help prospective customers find you.

1. Show up. Make sure your business shows up when people look for the products and services you sell. List your business free on search engines like Google Places, Bing, Yahoo Local and review sites like Yelp.

2. Look good. Make sure your website is “mobile responsive” and looks good on smartphones and tablets. More than 9 in 10 Americans have cellphones, and a full third of those access the Web primarily from their phones.

3. Be social. Can you be found on Facebook? Pinterest? Twitter? Choose social-media sites that are most appropriate for your type of business.

4. Be interesting. Share your expertise. Give a presentation to community groups based on your know-how, create a how-to YouTube video, write a blog.

5. Keep at it. Market, market, market. Customers don’t just show up; you have to continually court them.

Stage 2. “You had me at hello.” Make a great first impression.

1. Get personal. For customers to choose you over bigger, often cheaper, competitors, they need to sense a personal connection with you. Help them get to know you — and try to get to know them.

2. Don’t make them wait. Greet customers quickly — whether at your place of business, on the phone, or via e-mail and through social media.

3. Mind your manners. Be polite. Smile. Learn customers’ names. Say thank you — a lot. Remember, your customers want to feel they are being treated like people, not dollar signs.

4. Know what you’re talking about. Understand your products and policies and be able to answer customers’ questions quickly and thoroughly.

5. Set a positive tone. Company culture comes from the top down. Treat employees with respect and fairness, and they’re more likely to treat customers well.

6. Speak their language. If your business is in a bilingual neighborhood, hire bilingual staff to serve customers. Consider translating your website. You’ll expand your customer base, increase sales, and grow your bottom line.

Stage 3. Get them to say “I do.” Turn prospects into customers.

1. Be honest. Under promise and over deliver. Deliver the product or service as offered — or better.

2. Price fairly. When you offer excellent quality at a competitive price, customers fall in love. You don’t have to be the cheapest option, but you have to be a realistic choice.

3. Provide something customers will be glad they bought. Always deliver quality, and you’ll increase customer satisfaction and garner rave reviews.

4. Let them in. Give customers a behind-the-scenes tour of your company, warehouse, plant, farm, or restaurant. This can be virtual on your website.

Stage 4. “Our love is here to stay.” Nurture the relationship.

1. Add a special touch. If you ship goods, surprise and delight with a hand-written thank-you note or a small token tucked away that complements your products.

2. Go the extra mile. Exceed expectations; give a little extra. Pleasantly surprised customers are loyal customers.

3. Use a good customer relationship management system. You have to be able to stay in touch. And you need a reliable, ideally cloud-based, software system to keep track of all your interactions.

4. Show them a good time. Entertain your best customers or clients. Host holiday events and open houses.

5. Be responsive. Train employees on how to solve problems. Say you’re sorry if and when things go wrong.

6. Be loyal. Create loyalty and rewards programs. Give customers incentives to keep coming back.

Of course, you should love your customers every month, not just in February.

But take this month to examine your customer relation and retention program, so your customers will love doing business with you all year long.

planning

Rhonda Abrams is president of The Planning Shop and publisher of books for entrepreneurs. Her most recent book is Entrepreneurship: A Real-World Approach. Register for Rhonda’s free newsletter at PlanningShop.com. Twitter: @RhondaAbrams. Facebook: facebook.com/RhondaAbramsSmallBusiness.Copyright Rhonda Abrams 2014.

Family friendly food court to replace old bus station

The old Greyhound Bus Station on North Chaparral and Starr streets is getting a new life. Soon to be renovated into a bar and food truck court, the location will be family- and dog-friendly, featuring yard games and a patio bar. Photo by Suzanne Freeman
By Suzanne Freeman

View Original Article Here
January 30, 2017
Left lonely and abandoned, the old Greyhound bus station is nothing more than an eyesore in downtown Corpus Christi.

But eyesore, no more! Plans to renovate the site to become a family- and dog-friendly food truck court were presented at a Jan. 24 meeting to the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone #3 Board, which oversees downtown programs. The board approved a $100,000 for improvements to the site as part of its revitalization powers.

BUS, or Bar Under the Sun, will be developed by Ben Lomax, the 30-year-old son of downtown businessman Brad Lomax, who owns the Executive Surf Club and Waterstreet Market properties. The $940,000 investment would turn the building at 702 N. Chaparral St. into a patio bar while making room outside for up to four food trucks. Yard games and pet-friendly areas would be available.

The food truck park should open in the fall, Lomax told the board, which will need to approve the agreement at another meeting before it is final. The funding granted is part of the city’s tax increment funding zone, or TIRZ funds. It can only be spent to encourage downtown development.

Greyhound moved its operation to the new Regional Transit Authority headquarters on South Staples Street in uptown last year.

Find more articles like this in In the News
Greyhound eyesore slated for new business