Sydney Lewis Sydney Lewis
Associate Manager, Communications

Published

February 28, 2024

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99.9% of all businesses in the U.S. are small businesses. They are not only the backbone of our economy, but our country and communities nationwide. Small businesses, in their growth, can face a myriad of challenges from scaling challenges to strategic planning. For a first-time business owner or small team, the road to success can be daunting with no guidance.

BizConnect is a program designed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, bringing development and mentorship resources to small businesses in economically distressed areas. The U.S. Chamber Foundation is in the business of stronger communities and BizConnect is designed to do just that, building on our mission and impact.

Developed in partnership with the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, the pilot program of 19 small business owners launched on August 16, 2023 in San Antonio, TX. Through the program, local entrepreneurs are exposed to coaching, networking opportunities, and financial assistance to advance their economic success and resiliency.

San Antonio, a dynamic hub in Texas, is rapidly growing in both population and economy. While Texas has seen a 7% bump in annual GDP growth and a 10% population increase in the last decade, San Antonio is at the forefront of this boom, marking its own significant strides in both population and economic development.

The inaugural cohort of BizConnect participants include entrepreneurs from varying backgrounds and diverse industries offering an array of services including creative, technical, and food. Participants attended eight sessions, including Building Business Resilience, Legal Foundations, Scaling Mastery, and Revenue Accelerator, touching on key topics in business growth and development.

San Antonio small business owners benefited from the expertise of Heather Rose Boehme, a seasoned expert in small business development, who served as a dedicated business coach teaching the nuts and bolts of business success.

Meet the Inaugural BizConnect: San Antonio Cohort

Meredith Alvarez, Bell Flor 

Meredith Alvarez, the owner of Bell Flor a flower subscription service, found great value in the personalized aspects of the BizConnect: San Antonio program, particularly benefiting from the one-on-one sessions and the support provided by mentors like Heather. 

“Heather was amazing, and I truly appreciated what she brought to the program. Her energy was contagious!”

Analisa Gutting, Silicon Networks, LLC

Silicon Networks is a woman-owned IT service provider owned by Analisa Gutting. Analisa found great value from BizConnect empowering her every step of the way and noting a real impact from the insights and resources provided.

“Every time I left class, I felt more empowered than I was before.  It was a pivotal period of time for our business.”

 

Heather Chandler, The IMG Studio

The IMG Studio is an award-winning creative agency specializing in storytelling through visual media. Owner, Heather Chandler, found the BizConnect: San Antonio program to be tremendously beneficial in gaining critical business analysis skills.

“I did not know what to expect when I was accepted into the BizConnect program. I have been overwhelmed by how beneficial this class has been. I truly enjoyed every single session and took something valuable from each one.”

Cohort Snapshot

  • 75%
    rely on personal funding to support their business.
  • 83%
    found the program had a true impact on their business.
  • 75%
    have a positive look about the future of their small business.
  • 5
    average number of employees

Through BizConnect, we’re reaching local communities and fueling the growth of small businesses, bringing them one step closer to their maximum potential.

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1/6The inaugural cohort of BizConnect: San Antonio. Image courtesy of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.
2/6Analisa Gutting (center), owner of Silicon Networks, LLC, with Heather Rose Boehme, business coach, and Jeff Webster, President and CEO of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. Image courtesy of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.
3/6Heather Chandler (center), owner of The IMG Studio, with Heather Rose Boehme, business coach, and Jeff Webster, President and CEO of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. Image courtesy of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.
4/6Meredith Alvarez (center), owner of Bell Flor, with Heather Rose Boehme, business coach, and Jeff Webster, President and CEO of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. Image courtesy of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.
5/6Brodi Fontenot, U.S. Chamber Foundation program manager, speaks at the BizConnect San Antonio graduation. Image courtesy of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.
6/6Loved ones gathered to celebrate the graduation of San Antonio small business owners from the BizConnect pilot program. Image courtesy of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.

About the authors

Sydney Lewis

Sydney Lewis

Sydney Lewis is associate communications manager for education, workforce and corporate citizenship at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

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