Shanique Streete Shanique Streete
Executive Director, Programs
Jeff Webster Jeff Webster
President & CEO, Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce
Jeff Fair Jeff Fair
Vice President, Cybersecurity and Economic Development, Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce


May 15, 2024


At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, we are committed to enhancing community resilience by empowering small businesses through our flagship economic empowerment initiative, BizConnect, piloted last year in partnership with the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. 

In celebration of National Small Business Month, I sat down for a discussion with Jeff Webster (JW), president and CEO, and Jeff Fair (JF), vice president of economic development and cybersecurity, at the San Antonio Chamber. We delved into the significant role small businesses play in San Antonio and the pivotal impact of the BizConnect program.

What is the state of small businesses in San Antonio?

JW: The small business community is really the backbone of our city. Being the 7th largest city in the United States, we don’t have many major corporations headquartered here, therefore, this community is really driven by small business.We're a majority-minority city, offering great opportunities for groups that typically perhaps in other markets wouldn’t have success, but they’re huge job creators for us here in town.

What motivated the San Antonio Chamber to collaborate with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation on BizConnect?

JW: Participating was a very special and important opportunity for us, and we were honored to be selected for the pilot.This year,the San Antonio Chamber is celebrating its 130th anniversary and through this history we’ve seen family-owned, women-owned, small businesses build success in our community. I was absolutely blown away by the enthusiasm and diversity of the cohort. These were business owners looking for help and that guidance and education wouldn’t have been possible without a partnership.

How do programs like BizConnect contribute to community resilience in San Antonio?

JW: Our community shuts down if our small businesses fail. BizConnect educates and informs business owners and helps them make better decisions and grow their networks. Their success ensures our city survives, our chamber survives, and we all grow.

JF: Small business owners are benefiting not only from the skills and relationships from these programs but knowing that they have a support structure. As a result, they’re more resilient and they have other resources and connections across the city.

JW: Our job is to ensure that they can be successful because that’s the resiliency we need. Where a small business owner may not have the availability or connections, the Chamber is here to help and be that partner.

What have been some standout outcomes or positive impacts from this collaboration? 

JW: Thanks to the insights from BizConnect, the San Antonio Chamber has established a new committee to engage on the needs and opportunities of our small businesses. Additionally, our "Voices of the Chamber" video series kicked-off, featuring our small business members, including BizConnect participants, sharing their stories and the benefits of Chamber engagement. Ninety percent of our members are small businesses, so it’s crucial to tell these stories of impact and success.

What lessons do you think other communities could learn from the BizConnect model?

JW: When you’re standing in the forest every day as a small business owner, you can’t see a whole lot. You’re in the trees. To take that time away offers you a chance to step back and look, as well to safeguard your business from failure by being able to get away and stand off and reevaluate.

JF: There is such value in helping business owners to create a pocket of time where they are not in that day-to-day challenges they face as a small business owner, allowing them to reflect, analyze, and understand where they are and where they want to go. Being able to have small businesses go through programs like BizConnect, they will then share with other small businesses the value that will encourage us to continue. The momentum will only build, making the community stronger.

Jeff Fair (R) with (L-R) Mario Barrera, Heather Rose Boehme, and BizConnect graduate, Abdul Nadir Cassimjee at cohort graduation in January.
Jeff Fair (R) with (L-R) Mario Barrera, Heather Rose Boehme, and BizConnect graduate, Abdul Nadir Cassimjee at cohort graduation in January.

Interested in bringing BizConnect to your community?

For more information about how your organization can invest in the growth of small businesses through BizConnect, contact me below at 

About the authors

Shanique Streete

Shanique Streete

Shanique Streete is the Executive Director, Programs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

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Jeff Webster

Jeff Webster

Jeff Webster is the president and CEO of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.

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Jeff Fair

Jeff Fair

Jeff Fair is vice president of cybersecurity and economic development at the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.