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The Business Investment Conference, Helping Small Businesses

Standing (from left): Steven Gonzales, Kim Morris, Bob Payne, Juliette Lopez, Mark Winchester,  Jagdip Ahluwalia, Sitting (from left): Steve Paterson, Scott Livingston, Douglas Baumann, Alyssa Holmes Henderson, Jacqueline Taylor, Valerie Maher, Swapan Dhairyawan.

Standing (from left): Steven Gonzales, Kim Morris, Bob Payne, Juliette Lopez, Mark Winchester,  Jagdip Ahluwalia,
Sitting (from left): Steve Paterson, Scott Livingston, Douglas Baumann, Alyssa Holmes Henderson, Jacqueline Taylor, Valerie Maher, Swapan Dhairyawan.

By Manu Shah

HOUSTON: The Business Investment Conference cohosted by the Chamber on April 18, was part of a Shell sponsored IACCGH series of events to support Harvey affected small businesses. Events are being hosted at different locations to help small businesses grow, overcome technical challenges, rebuild, access technology, or simply get a loan on easy terms.

Held at the Johnnie Arolfo Civic Center in League City, the event was supported by the League City Regional Chamber of Commerce, City of League City, America’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC), US Small Business Administration (SBA), IACCGH, LiftFund, and Shell. Representatives from these Institutions as well as community banks, NASA, BayTech Solutions and the Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program (SATOP) offered presentations on the varied resources small businesses could tap to get their businesses get off the ground or get a competitive edge.

IACCGH Executive Director and Master of Ceremonies Jagdip Ahluwalia offered a brief outline of the Chamber’s mission and expressed his appreciation at the support from Shell in carrying out this work. Alyssa Holmes Henderson, Supplier Diversity Coordinator at Shell also highlighted Shell’s commitment to supporting the community and stepping up the funds to help businesses after Hurricane Harvey’s devastation.

League City Councilmember Larry Millican welcomed the gathering to League City and highlighted the potential for business that League City offers.
A presentation by Steven Lawrence, Executive Director SBDC Texas Gulf Coast underscored the changing business trends. Describing today’s business environment as a “knowledge economy,” he emphasized the importance of understanding “what consumers want and how to get it to them faster.”

SBA’s District Director Tim Jeffcoat took over with a “Start and Grow Your Small Business” presentation, which outlined the services SBA offers such as Counseling, Matchmaking events with lenders as well as helping small businesses procure federal contracts with the Government.

Mark Winchester, SBA’s Deputy District Director in Houston moderated a panel of community bankers: Nasr Khan – Wallis State Bank, Matt Curry – Texas Citizens Bank and Wendy Ghormley – Texas First Bank. The discussion underlined the effectiveness of working with a community bank for loans as it understands your needs better.  

Moderator Jacqueline Taylor quizzed Anthony Lopez from LiftFund, Paula Jeminson from American Red Cross and Mark Winchester from SBA on how best to prepare an organization to function through a disaster.

The NASA Technology Transfer program, Steven Gonzalez Associate Manager of the Strategic Partnership Office at the NASA/JSC explained, enables small businesses around the country to access and leverage almost 1400 technologies and solutions that are being used in their space program.

President and CEO of the League City Regional Chamber of Commerce Steve Paterson offered a brief outline of the strategic advantages and the “business friendly” atmosphere that League City has to set up shop.

Program Manager Bob Payne from SATOP offered a presentation of how NASA provides engineering expertise to small businesses faced with technical challenges while BayTech Solutions, Director Kim Morris explained, contracts with companies that would like JSC to test their product and iron out technical issues. Owner of T-Shirt Trends Poonam Tulsiani stated that she found the event very useful as it had many organizations that help small businesses like hers “all under one roof.”

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