(Seguin) -- Building partnerships is helping the Seguin Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) boost the local economy. The SEDC Board of Directors recently held its annual meeting. The board used the meeting to approve several partnerships -- mostly with New Braunfels -- that have proven to be a good thing for local businesses and for the community.
SEDC Executive Director Josh Schneuker says the partnerships are tied to everything from joint marketing, to training academies for local students, and the operation of a small business development center. The SEDC Board approved $60,000, which will help to fund the UTSA Small Business Development Center that's operated here in Seguin. Schneuker says the center operates four days a week in New Braunfels, and once a week in Seguin. It offers free business advice for anyone who wants it. He says the services offered by the center are helping small business owners in the area.
"Their actual brick and mortar location which is also known as the Sparks Center for entrepreneurs is in New Braunfels, but every Tuesday, we have Mr. Larry New that has office hours here to meet with our existing small businesses and inspiring entrepreneurs. He's here every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. As you can see, we've got some new signage on the front window there to kind of promote that. We've been really trying to boost the awareness on social media as well," said Schneuker.
Schneuker says local entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the business development center's operation. He says the business counseling services, as well as the special training sessions that are offered are generally well attended here in Seguin.
"He's pretty much packed throughout the day -- in and out of people here as well. We've all actually seen some increases in some of our training as well. So not only do they get the free business counseling and advising here -- through this, they're also able to get free seminar trainings as well. We had one on social media that was held a couple of weeks back. Gosh, we had over 30 people I think in attendance that one and that was probably one of the higher ones. So we're taking a look at those and identifying which is the one we're going to get really high demand for and try to push those a little bit more out in this area. So we've had a ton of our local businesses take advantage of that. That's something that in San Antonio, you're not going to get. They have to pay for those training seminars out there. Here our businesses and entrepreneurs have that access. It's free to them through the funding partnership -- a gain, New Braunfels and Seguin coming together to support small business development," said Schneuker.
The SEDC board also approved a $71,500 expenditure that will keep the Alamo Academies Program alive at the Central Texas Technology Center (CTTC) in northern Guadalupe County. It's another long running partnership between Seguin and New Braunfels. The academies provide real world learning opportunities for high school students in the Seguin and New Braunfels areas. Companies that participate with the CTTC allows the students to learn specialized skills, and they also receive internships as part of the program. Schneuker says this is a very important program, and it makes sense for the SEDC to support it.
"We've helped fund the operations of the program within the CTTC region. So New Braunfels again contributes to this program as well. The funding request for this year from the Alamo Academies is $71,500. We done that a little bit different this year. We are tying this funding to a performance agreement where they will be providing us with an annual report to ensure that the funding was spent in the right places. After all of that kind of happened this year with the Alamo Academies, I just want to make sure that our funding is being spent properly and that we're all in the same page. New Braunfels has an agreement that they have in place. We just never had one in the past. I feel more comfortable with having the money tied to something like that," said Schneuker.
The performance agreement is something new this year. Even though the program is important for both communities, there was some disconnect between what the cities wanted and what was going to be provided by Alamo Colleges, which operates the CTTC. Schneuker says there was a recommendation made by Alamo Colleges to stop the program, but both communities came together to prevent that idea from happening.
"They were going to kill the program out here and we came together as a region and voiced our support on how important this program is to building our talent pipeline. Not only how beneficial it is to existing businesses but for our recruitment efforts as well. To have a program like this in place, I think speaks volumes to how we're trying to prepare ourself for the future. With that being said, coming together and having that team support there really made a difference and they voted to keep the academies. They went against the recommendation to kill the program. So we've really made a strong effort to improve our communication between everybody, myself and the academies, New Braunfels and the academies. We're all working I think a little bit better together now than what we were. So the communication is there," said Schneuker.
The joint marketing agreement with New Braunfels was also approved by the SEDC board. Staff recommended that they again partner, when possible, with New Braunfels to help market this area as a region. He says the joint marketing agreement has served both communities well.
"We have our partnership with them, the 1035 Alliance and through this partnership, we go out and market the region as a premier place for economic development opportunities. So in the past, we've done mission trips. We're getting ready to do a job fair, broker breakfast, things like that. We think it's a great benefit. We work very well together, myself, Rusty and everybody else that's involved in this. So we're recommending approval of the joint marketing agreement to continue this partnership with New Braunfels," said Schneuker.
The SEDC's annual meeting was held last Monday at the city's annex building. The SEDC's board of directors is made up of business professionals that volunteer overseeing sales tax dollars collected by the city that are earmarked for job growth and job retention efforts in the city.