From the moment people walked into the Brownsville Event Center for the Business to Botana Expo on Sept. 19, they were surrounded by the sights and smells this event was showcasing. There was no shortage of food booths with everything ranging from Taco Palenque to Bara Exotic Food to Vita Zumo.
Free to the public, this popular event drew crowds of all ages. Babies in strollers ate pieces of fruit passed out from vendors while parents sipped on wine or fresh pressed juices. The booths showed a mix of up-and coming small business as well as large companies opening up new locations.
Orange Theory Fitness in Harlingen was popular with their exercise demos and friendly energy. Valley Baptist Health System, who regularly participates in community health fairs, brought special bioelectrical scales to measure weight, body fat and BMI. In an area where diabetes and obesity are prevalent, offerings like these could be lead to life-changing information.
Help for businesses
Given that there are so many small businesses who set up at these expos, it’s only natural the Small Business Administration Lower Rio Grande Valley office of to be there.
“I network more with the vendors,” says Reynaldo Vasquez, economic development specialist for SBA. He goes, because this is the perfect opportunity to let these small businesses know the benefits the SBA has. He talks about the variety of training seminars throughout the year for taxes, international relations and payroll.
When a new entrepreneur approaches him about starting their own business he offers simple and straightforward advice of “first, research and educate yourself.” He wants business owners to know their own financial feasibility and if they are prepared for the cost.
“The rate of small business failure is so high, like 50 percent,” Vasquez says. He explains this is because many novice entrepreneurs jump into their business without enough preparation. He mentions the critical team you must have in place before your venture. “I recommend having your B.A.I.L. team … banker, accountant, insurance, lawyer.” He also assures debt is fine when it’s used wisely.
UTRGV was there representing their Small Business Development Center and College of Business and Entrepreneurship. Their focus is the economic development of our area and to bolster new growth. The university helps develop a new generation of business owners and entrepreneurs by lending access to resources.
A business expo wouldn’t be complete without the representation of the Women’s Business Center of Cameron County. They have many programs they offer for women and these events are an ideal place to spread the word, as said by representative Andrea Benton. As a female entrepreneur it might feel isolating at times to embrace on a new project and the WBCCC is here to help.
“A lot of times, you just need that someone to guide you, we are there for you, so you can turn that dream into a reality,” says Benton.