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Home | News | EPCC’s Small Business Development Center assisting local business through COVID-19 pandemic
Christopher Lee Morrill (lf) and Santiago Reyes (rt) | Photo courtesy EPCC

EPCC’s Small Business Development Center assisting local business through COVID-19 pandemic

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC), housed at El Paso Community College (EPCC), in partnership with the United States Small Business Administration (SBA), has helped more than 25 local businesses secure over $1,500,000 emergency funding through the CARES Act, and they’re continuing to help others.

“The SBDC is the largest management and technical assistance program for small businesses in the United States. Our purpose is to help small businesses be successful,” Joe Ferguson, Director of the Small Business Development Center explains. “Now, more than ever, the support we offer is vital in helping small business owners navigate the unprecedented difficulties their facing in light of COVID-19. In doing so, we aren’t just supporting them, but we are also helping our local economy.  Our COVID related services are at no-cost.”

Recently, the EPCC Center received an additional SBA grant under the COVID-19 CARES Act in the amount of $237,000.

Officials share that the money will be dedicated to provide confidential no-cost consulting in finance, human resources, operations, marketing, and business and strategic planning with the goal of winning back and finding new customers.

The Center will also provide weekly on-line workshops on various topics that are relevant to the future success of small business.

“We expect to be able to assist over 500 small businesses in the recovery effort.  Those businesses that choose to accept SBDC assistance should be able to be more sustainable and resilient for years to come,” SBDC officials added.

The CARES Act is a federal program offered by the Small Business Administration with support from the Department of the Treasury. The program offers small businesses assistance in paying employee payroll and interest on mortgages, rent and utilities.

Accessing this program has become vital to small businesses trying to survive during the Coronavirus pandemic; the SBDC has been integral in helping their local business clients to apply for it.

EPCC Culinary Arts Graduates Chef Chris Morrill and Chef Santiago Reyes were doing well with their catering business, Around the World, and their high-end Gallery 3 Kitchen, so they decided to expand with another restaurant: TACO SHOP.

After celebrating TACO SHOP’s opening on March 5, 2020, Morrill and Reyes found the momentum to a third successful venture stopped by the COVID-19 crisis and an order to close all but essential businesses.

Around the World catering canceled numerous catering events, Gallery 3 Kitchen closed and TACO SHOP offered a limited menu for takeout and delivery service. Thanks to application assistance from the SBDC, Morrill and Reyes received relief funding from the CARES act, helping them to pay their employees and keep their businesses afloat during a time of economic shutdown and record unemployment.

 The El Paso SBDC is a field office of the South-West Texas Border SBDC Network.  The lead office is located at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

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