On July 27th, a small delegation of visitors from seven different countries arrived in San Antonio to explore the role of local businesses in the global economy. Throughout their short stay, the visitors spent two full days in meetings exchanging practices on policies that support trade and small businesses, and methods that diversify the regional economy to create job opportunities.
Meetings with both the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation and the City of San Antonio’s Economic Development Department both emphasized the diversification of the San Antonio regional economy through recruitment and expansion of quality employers. The delegation learned that San Antonio is making initiatives to establish quality workforce through various training programs and partnerships. Organizations such as Goodwill invest profit from sales into training programs for employers while programs with Alamo Academies provide opportunities for individuals to obtain various certifications.
Next, the visitors learned about the local services provided to small business and entrepreneurs who do not have access to loans from commercial sources. Representatives from LiftFund, a non-profit organization that offers leadership and innovation to the micro-lending industry, met with the delegation to explain eligibility and expectations for those seeking financial support. Additional insight into LiftFund’s programs such as the Women’s Business Center and LaunchSA emphasized their dedication to supporting entrepreneurs, especially women and minorities. These programs offer personalized training and individual business counseling. From learning about the ways in which quality employees are molded and how small business emerge, our visitors then learned how these businesses expand compete internationally.
In order to assess San Antonio’s economy on a large scale, meetings with the Free Trade Alliance and the Department of Commerce’s US Commercial Service emphasized initiatives that support international business. With employment training supported by the city’s economic development programs and the skills and loans acquired from LiftFund, some small businesses successfully develop international markets. In this case, the delegation learned that establishments such as the Department of Commerce’s US Commercial Service help to secure connections with foreign countries. Of the challenges that arise in this process, assistance is provided in navigating documentation challenges or creating market entry strategies. In similar effort to contribute to the diversification of San Antonio’s economy and promote international business, a meeting with the Free Trade Alliance stressed the importance of attracting foreign direct investment.
In addition to the exchanges with private and public organizations in San Antonio that contribute the local & global economy, the visitors had the weekend to indulge in cultural activities. While San Antonio is economically diverse, here at SACIV we always encourage our visitors to experience the cultural diversity that the city has to offer. As most of our visitors do, the delegation visited the Alamo and strolled along the Riverwalk, however this delegation in particular was interested in making a special trip to Buc-ee’s! I had never met a group of visitors so impressed by the expansiveness, cleanliness, and popularity of a convenience store. Perhaps we will keep that in mind when arranging meetings in the future!