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Small Business and Entrepreneurship Resource Center

Insights from the Field
Perspectives from Leading Practitioners and Researchers

Interview with Terri Reed, Project Director, El Paso Minority Business Enterprise Center of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Fourth Quarter 2010

Dallas Fed: What have been the biggest successes and challenges that your clients have faced since 2009? What successes and challenges do you expect in 2011?

Reed: At this time, being successful means being able to weather the financial storm and stay afloat.

The biggest challenges our clients have faced and continue to face are 1) being able to access capital, 2) increasing their bonding capacity*, 3) making their cash flow by reinvesting in their businesses, 4) responding to larger contracting opportunities, 5) competing with bigger, more established businesses, 6) marketing their business, 7) finding qualified personnel, 8) maneuvering through city licensing and regulations processes, and 9) thinking big.

In 2011, successful businesses will be those that keep their doors open and continue to contribute to the tax base and create or retain jobs.

The challenges will be the same as in 2010, plus keeping up with new regulations and laws and the high costs of employment taxes and insurance.

Dallas Fed: What have been the biggest successes and challenges that the El Paso Minority Business Enterprise Center has faced since 2009? What successes and challenges do you expect in 2011?

Reed: Successes and challenges go hand in hand in El Paso. A success is that we have a lot of city, state and federal contracting opportunities; a challenge is that many of our local businesses are not in a financial position to take advantage of that work. It’s a constant education process.

For example, one of the biggest challenges for the growing businesses we serve is educating them to take advantage of every opportunity to market and grow their business. They are also challenged with having to wear all hats in the businessâ??from marketing to business development as well as strengthening their skills in their particular trade.

Dallas Fed: What impact do you anticipate the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 to have on you and your clients?

Reed: They do not know how this piece of legislation will truly affect them, and they are getting so many different interpretations and explanations. They have a fear of fines and penalties. There has been a lot of fear of the unknown. 

Dallas Fed: What have we not yet discussed that you think is important to bring up, particularly to industry analysts, your constituents and/or policymakers?

Reed: My message to our constituents is to take advantage of every opportunity.  Partner, increase your bonding, build cash reserves and invest back into your business through your employees. 

Also, in this day and age, there are so many resources that no business has to go at it alone.  There are women’s business centers, minority business enterprise centers, etc. Entrepreneurs should go to these resources and let the professionals there help them build their businesses.

*Businesses that plan strategic growth by expanding their portfolio to work in the federal contracting arena must be able to become bonded (insured in case they do not finish the job). If the business is not doing well (because of credit issues or limited financing ability) they have a lower bonding capacity. 

 

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