The objective of the University of Texas San Antonio’s (UTSA) Texas International Business Accelerator (TIBA), a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) specialty program, is to create and capture Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Texas. TIBA provides technical business consulting specifically to foreign entrepreneurs that have selected Texas to establish or expand their companies.
The TIBA services are a vital tool for FDI, which is a significant factor in the area of economic development. The main goal is to assist in the creation of a feasible and sustainable business investment for the foreign entrepreneur; this is all achieved with an experienced staff in the area of FDI. Since the start of the program in fiscal year 2011, TIBA is responsible for the creation of more than 1,300 jobs with $65 million of foreign investment statewide.
I work for the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) network as a business consultant assisting small businesses providing technical assistance to them. I realized due to the high demand of foreign entrepreneurs wanting to invest / startup businesses to Texas there were very few that could assist them providing technical assistance.
In 2011 I founded the UTSA Texas International Business Accelerator (TIBA) providing technical consulting / assistance to foreign investors that are looking to expand their operations or start a brand new business venture to Texas. We have taken the successful SBDC model to a new level by tailor its service to this new type of clientele.
To a foreign investor / entrepreneur the United States business culture and climate are very different with also the issue of a language barrier. With the services of TIBA we consider ourselves the most valuable tool to invest in Texas. We provide them all the advice and services they need to become successful U.S. entrepreneurs creating economic impact.
In the three years that TIBA has been a part of the SBDC we have generated over $70 million in foreign investment dollars to Texas creating 1,200 plus jobs. We have become one of the fastest growing specialty centers a part of the SBDC program. TIBA has already successfully replicated itself within our network in the State of New York with three other SBDC’s. We have worked very hard to put things in place so that our model can be incorporated in any economic development organization.
The tasks that were completed when I discovered a lack of technical consulting services to foreign investors were; starting a program focused on this type of new clientele to the SBDC, identify services required by foreign investors, and put in place a network of professionals to help my clients.
Once the TIBA was developed we started offering the following services focused on the needs of foreign investors; one on one confidential business consulting, development of business plans, market research, and referrals to a network of professionals during their start up process. These services are essential to the success of our clientele starting or expanding their businesses. With these services we have been implementing for the past three years it has allowed us to capture and create a large amount of economic impact in a short amount of time.
The services we offer like the investment business plan as we call it has a very specific template / format so that the client will not only know exactly how to operate their own business in the U.S. but will also comply with investor visa requirements of immigration. This is also another specialized service TIBA provides which is assisting our clients complying with the requirements of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. When a foreign investor starts a business in the U.S. their immigration status changes from tourist to an investor. Very similar to a U.S. businessperson requiring a loan to start their business an investor visa is crucial to a foreign investors needs and without it they cannot do business legally here.
Since TIBA’s expansion in 2013 to the State of New York we have formulized and made uniform all of our processes and procedures. The processes we have put in place are all of our business plans templates, presentations, operations, human resources, and training. We continue to update and refine to improve our program for the benefit of the client always. Our goal was to make TIBA a great service and being able to successfully replicate came as a result of our hard work and uniformity.
TIBA is an original program in that we are the only SBDC and one of few economic development organizations providing technical assistance services in the area of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). At the federal, state and city level offices they are currently only marketing & promoting their cities, tax incentives, and any other free benefits. TIBA prides itself by not only providing technical advice but also partnering with all levels of government to ease the transition and start of their businesses in the U.S. Our goal is to help the EDO’s understand better how to really assist the foreign investor coming to the U.S. and that just marketing & promoting is not enough when attracting foreign direct investment to their communities. TIBA can act as an essential partner on showing how a combination of both can lead to successful economic impact.
All of our tactics that were put in place helped us to successfully create and capture foreign direct investment to Texas. The data which, reflects our successful tactics from our start in 2011 we have just over $3 million in FDI and 104 new jobs created, in 2012 there was $17 million in FDI with 350 jobs created, and 2013 we had $50 million in FDI with 750 new jobs.
These above successful outcomes were as a result of planning, uniformity, and knowing what services foreign investors need. We have also expanded into the service of the EB-5 foreign investment program which always include projects well over $5 million creating 10 plus jobs per investors. The EB-5 program will be a part of the future success and growth of TIBA.
My future plans for TIBA are to continue to expand it throughout the nationwide SBDC network and possibly through other EDO’s. I also continue to promote TIBA with federal and state offices that have an interest in FDI so that a productive partnership with similar economic impact interests can be created. This is however a slow process since their strategic plan is to mainly promote and market the U.S. without taking into consideration the advice and access to information needed by a foreign investor.
I will be following the similar model to replicate TIBA as I have successfully in New York. My focus will be in those states that have the most attraction of FDI in the U.S. With the current state and Small Business Administration funding TIBA has been able to sustain its operations. With my ongoing promotion of TIBA I continue to ask and look for funding opportunities that include grants with federal funding opportunities. TIBA does charge for the service of business plan development, market research, and other studies. These “cost recovery” fee for service charges are also a method of sustaining TIBA’s operational expenses. For three years now my program has been self-sustaining with a high return on investment to the SBDC program.
UEDA Awards of Excellence Finalists presented at the Annual Summit in Santa Fe on September 29-30, 2014. Summit attendees then voted for the best initiative in each category.