Spark ready to help New Braunfels residents grow their small business – Herald Zeitung

A recent funding grant will enable the University of Texas at San Antonio Small Business Development Center’s New Braunfels office to continue providing services to startup and growing businesses.

The $210,000 grant comes after recent approvals from the New Braunfels and the New Braunfels Economic Development Corp. to the Spark Small Business Center. The Spark Small Business Center then awarded funding to the UTSA SBDC.

The funding allows the Spark Small Business Center to finance and operate the SBDC in New Braunfels through the end of fiscal year 2023.

Staffed by a manager and administrative assistant, the office in New Braunfels operates via an annual contract with the Spark Small Business Center and offers free advising, market research, referrals and workshops to business owners and entrepreneurs who want to start a business or build an existing business.

“There’s no cost signup as a client,” said Lucinda Vela, project manager and senior business advisor at the New Braunfels office. “A lot of people come here and ask about the fees. There are no fees. Advising is one-on-one and confidential. It’s all designed for small businesses, regardless of whether they’re starting or expanding their business. We become lifelong partners with everyone.”

Workshops are available for small businesses and future small business owners. A calendar of training opportunities offered by the center is available at

Clients who need specialized services can also receive referrals within the SBDC’s extensive network.

“Some further advising services include business planning and market research — everything from marketing to website evaluation to human resources, which is a really big thing for clients,” Vela said. “They ask, ‘how do I go from being an entrepreneur to being a W-2 or taking contract people and bringing them in as an employee?’ We do all of that — social media, financial accounting and loan packaging. Those are the things that we offer and at no cost.”

Additional programs through the UTSA SBDC partnership include the SBDC International Trade Center, SBDC Center for Government Contracting, SBDCNet, SBDC Technology Commercialization Center, SBDC COVID Business Recovery Accelerator and the Procurement Technical Assistance Center.

During fiscal year 2022, the New Braunfels center served 573 clients, held 21 training events, helped start or expand 21 businesses and created 60 new jobs.

Seventy-five jobs were retained through the work of this office. For the year, a total capital infusion of $5,584,400 was obtained for these New Braunfels business clients.

“We are grateful to the New Braunfels Economic Development Corporation, the New Braunfels City Council and the Spark Small Business Center,” said UTSA SBDC Director Richard Sifuentes. “By renewing the grant award, our advisors and staff members will be able to continue their excellent work in strengthening New Braunfels’ economy.”

Since around 2011, the Small Business Center, formally known as the Center for Entrepreneurship, has focused on delivering counseling sessions, expanding access to capital, business planning, training, contracting and procurement opportunities and exporting initiatives relevant and helpful to the small business community.

For more information about Spark, visit the office at 940 W. San Antonio St., or call 830-358-7273.