Chamber initiatives help companies succeed
Business Connect is right on the money when it comes to helping small businesses, medium-sized companies and entrepreneurs.
As part of the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce, Business Connect is a division that assists small companies with whatever resources they might need, whether it’s connecting a business startup with the local chapter of SCORE professional business mentors or the Small Business Development Center, or helping an entrepreneur complete paperwork to bid for a government contract. The division focuses on four main initiatives – business opportunity, interacting with Fort Bliss, networking and outreach efforts.
“For the business opportunity initiative, we work closely with state, federal and local entities to secure contract opportunities for our small- and mid-sized businesses,” says Minda Villarreal, Business Connect vice president. “Most large companies have specialists who know how to gain contracts, but small businesses don’t have those kinds of contract individuals. That’s where Business Connect will help.”
For the Fort Bliss initiative, the division is involved in several activities. It hosts an annual Experience El Paso event to welcome new classmates who are entering the installation’s Sergeants Major Academy. The most recent Experience El Paso took place in August 2017 with 744 students who learned much about the community where they now reside.
“We also connect small companies with Fort Bliss business opportunities,” Villarreal says. “One past success story occurred with Basil Glass, a local company that received much work when Fort Bliss underwent a major expansion of its base.”
Networking and Outreaching
For the networking initiative, Business Connect organizes events that help individuals mingle with others from small companies. One of the most successful events is a monthly Business After Hours session.
“I remember a very good session in September 2017 hosted by El Paso Sleep Center that featured an evening of great networking,” Villarreal says. “Besides valuable networking, there is always good food, lots of fun and plenty of door prizes.”
For the outreach initiative, Villarreal says Business Connect informs local businesses of potential opportunities associated with area contracts that match their product or services.
“For example, El Paso Independent School District was recently awarded a bond for construction upgrades, so we worked with the ISD to find local sub-contractors to match their needs,” she says. “If we didn’t get involved, the ISD might go outside El Paso to look for subcontractors, and we obviously want them to stay with El Paso companies.”
Villarreal adds that Business Connect also manages and promotes a One Stop Business Resource Center that assists small companies and tracks their progress at intervals of three months, six months, a year and then 18 months.
“Small business is big business for us here in El Paso,” she says. “Our goal is to provide companies and entrepreneurs with the necessary support and information to assure their success in capturing as many potential business opportunities as possible.”