San Antonio small business resources guide

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Small Business Resource Guide

The following information is based from the City of San Antonio website and other sources, ordered and presented it in an organized fashion.

If you’re looking to start a business, or already own a business in the city limits of San Antonio, Texas, you’ll find all the resources you need here.

I’ll be updating this page when I find new useful resources for business owners, so make sure to bookmark and share it.

Selecting a business structure

Businesses are created and operated in different structures. The business structure goes a long way in determining the kind of rules, regulations, conditions, and benefits that would apply to that business. Therefore, it is important business owners are properly informed by legal and financial professionals before selecting a particular structure.

The Texas Secretary of State has a detailed guide on the various structures. Let’s overview these business structures below.

Sole Proprietorship

In this form of business, just one person is in charge of the business and assumes all legal obligations of the business. Suppose the business is conducted under an assumed name. In that case, an assumed name certificate (commonly referred to as a DBA) should be filed with the county clerk’s office in the county where the business is located.

General Partnership

This business structure results from the agreement of two or more people to start a business. The partnership agreement legally binds all parties. Suppose the business is conducted under an assumed name. In that case, an assumed name certificate (commonly referred to as a DBA) should be filed with the county clerk’s office in the county where the business is located.

Corporation

These are larger bodies, consisting of several individuals, that act as a single unit. It is created by filing articles of incorporation with the Texas Secretary of State. Online forms are also available at the Texas Secretary of State Online Access (SOSDirect).

Limited Liability Company

This is a business structure that protects its owners from personal responsibility for its debts or liabilities. It is created by filing articles of incorporation with the Texas Secretary of State. Online forms are also available at the Texas Secretary of State Online Access (SOSDirect).

Limited Partnership

This is a form of partnership in which some of the partners contribute only financially and have limited liability to the extent of the amount of money they invested. This form of business also conforms to the partnership agreement, like a general partnership. While the partnership agreement is not filed for public record, the limited partnership must file a certificate of limited partnership with the Texas Secretary of State

For any changes, particularly from a general or limited partnership, reach out to the Secretary of State.

Chambers of Commerce in San Antonio

Alamo Asian American Chamber of Commerce

Alamo City Black Chamber of Commerce

Alamo Heights Chamber of Commerce

Christian Chamber of San Antonio

Greater Boerne Chamber of Commerce

Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce

Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce

North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce

Northwest Chamber of Commerce

Randolph Metrocom Chamber of Commerce

San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

San Antonio LGBT Chamber of Commerce

San Antonio Women’s Chamber of Commerce

Seguin Area Chamber of Commerce

South San Antonio Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber (Schertz-Cibolo-Selma Area)

West San Antonio Chamber of Commerce

Economic recovery and resiliency resources

The Economic Development Department (EDD) of San Antonio attaches high value to small businesses in the City. The EDD fosters small businesses growth and development through various economic programs, services, and collaborations. These resources are outlined below. For more information, you can visit the small business section of their website.

Small Business Support – Outreach Activities

The EDD and several community organizations have collaborated to provide small businesses with direct outreach and support services.

The activities of these organizations will be specific to the Geographic Focus Areas they serve. The roles they play will be detailed below.

Also, the Small Business Liaison can also help you understand the various rules and local regulations in San Antonio.

Workforce Development, On-the-Job Workforce Training Program

Workforce Solutions Alamo allows small businesses to subsidize the wages of new employees undergoing training for up to three months. What’s more, the program helps businesses identify potential candidates for full-time jobs.

Access to capital

LiftFund and the City of San Antonio have partnered on a few projects that allows small businesses to take loans – as much as $250,000 for ten years – for use as working capital, existing debt refinance, and assets purchase. Also, LiftFund helps businesses without banking relations access loans. These programs include the Interest Buydown Loan Program (with the City) and the SBA Community Advantage Loan Program (with the Small Business Administration).

City Contracting and Bidding Opportunities

This program educates small businesses on bidding, contracting, submitting bids, and obtaining vendor information when doing business with the City. More information is present here: Doing business with the City of San Antonio.

LaunchSA

LaunchSA, through its connections with other organizations in the City, can help small businesses grow and develop their entrepreneurial mindset. Basically, this organization helps small businesses launch and accelerate their business progress. Furthermore, their staff is always ready and willing to address questions small businesses may have. Call – (210) 458-6623 for more information.

UTSA COVID-19 Business Recovery Accelerator (COBRA)

This program is concerned with helping small businesses recover from the economic havoc the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked through free and confidential training. You can reach out to COBRA at (210) 458-2272.

Women’s Business Center (WBC) provides one-on-one financial and technical assistance services to small businesses. LiftFund’s Women’s Business Center also guides and assists women entrepreneurs on their journey to the top of the entrepreneurial food chain. You can call them at (888) 215-2373 ext. 3000.

San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside (SAGE)

As the name strongly suggests, this program is concerned primarily with Eastside businesses. They do this through the SAGE Storefront Grant Program, which helps improve properties exterior with up to $10,000, and the SAGE Back Office Program (SBOP) aims to train small businesses on fiscal management. Small businesses (and the general public) can check through their website for COVID-19 resources and opportunities. For more information, call (210) 248-9178.

Westside Development Corporation (WDC)

The WDC helps with the economic development of small businesses on the Westside without compromising the values of the area. The assistance it provides is not just through training and counselling, as there are loans and grants for non-COVID purposes. In addition, the WDC, alongside many organizations, has a helpline (210-598-8482) that offers advice, support, funding, and other relevant information.

Maestro Entrepreneur Center

This organization’s goal is to help small businesses grow beyond the million-dollar threshold. It aims at achieving this through creative learning tools and resources. Connect with them through their website or phone number – (210) 952-6672.

Centro San Antonio (Centro)

Centro supports small businesses in Downtown San Antonio by making the businesses more accessible and helping them achieve desirable urban designs. The Centro Main Street Program is targeted at developing main street businesses downtown. The Main Street Navigator also helps small businesses build economic resilience by providing them with resources to achieve their needs. Connect with them on the phone at – (210) 225-3682.

Southside First Economic Development Council

This organization, also known as Southside First, serves the South San Antonio/Bexar County. Southside First’s staff provide outreach services and technical assistance to small businesses. Also, through the ¡Échale Gas! Program, Southside First, alongside other community stakeholders, oversee workshops and training sessions that aid the development and expansion of small businesses in the region. You can reach out to them at (210) 718-8347.

San Antonio Economic Development Foundation (SAEDF)

SAEDF is a private-public non-profit organization that helps grow quality jobs in the region. With the help of several partners, SAEDF aims to attract new companies into the region and grow already existing ones. Call them at (210) 226-1394.

Guidelines on business location

Development Services Department (DSD)

This department is concerned with the building and construction needs of businesses and homes. It can be found at:

Cliff Morton Development & Business Services Center

1901 S. Alamo St., San Antonio, TX 78204
https://www.sanantonio.gov/dsd
210-207-1111

Location, Licensing, and Other Requirements

The Small Business Office responds to inquiries about licensing, location, and other requirements important in starting a business. Getting legal and financial professionals is advised, as well as attending workshops and training organized by organizations in this article.

Commercial Location

As small business owners, before locating in a commercial property, you must confirm that the property has the appropriate zoning for the specific business operation. If your business will be located outside San Antonio, ensure you call the relevant City or town for business requirements.

Home Occupation

According to the Unified Development Code, a home occupation is any activity carried out for gain by a resident conducted as an accessory use in the resident’s dwelling unit. Several conditions apply if your home is located within San Antonio City limits.

Contact the DSD if you have any questions about the guidelines on your business location.

Knowing all of the conditions may be a bother, but an easy way is to communicate with the DSD if your home occupation meets all criteria.

Guidelines on Licenses, Permits, and Registrations

There are no general business licenses in San Antonio. The type of use of the business determines the type of license. For more information, contact the Small Business Liaison at:

(210)207-3903

Below, we will examine specific services and the body they must apply to for licenses.

Food Service License

This body helps businesses establish, maintain, or operate a food service operation in the City. You can apply with the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District:

332 W. Commerce St. San Antonio TX
(210) 207-8853

or

1901 S. Alamo St. San Antonio TX
(210) 207-0135

Beer Licenses and Liquor Permits

Businesses that want to manufacture, distribute, and sell alcoholic beverages must register with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

4203 Woodcock St., Suite 120, San Antonio TX
(210) 731-1720
Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission

Fire Inspections and Permits

As you would imagine, this unit ensures that all fire protection regulations and permits are in place in every business – both new and existing.

San Antonio Fire Department’s Office of the Fire Marshall
1901 S. Alamo St. San Antonio TX
(210) 207-8410

Alarm Permits

The Alarms Investigation Office (AIO) is tasked with receiving alarms information and issuing permits to business owners at their business locations. For new alarm users, a report must be sent to the San Antonio Police Department – Alarms Investigation Office (AIO).

(210) 207-828
SAPD Alarm Permits

Contractor Licensing and Registration

Intending contractors in the City have to apply for a license at the Development Services Department. This is a requirement before any permit can be granted.

1901 S. Alamo St. San Antonio TX
(210) 207-1111
Contractor Licensing and Registration

Peddler and Canvasser Licenses

Businesses that want to sell retail goods and products door-to-door or through a vehicle have to submit an application with the San Antonio Finance Department.

(210) 207- 8667
Peddler and Canvasser Licenses

Downtown Business District – Vending

Vendors for novelty and food items can get their permits at the Center City Development and Operations Department.

Downtown Business District – Vending
(210) 207-3677

Animal Permits

Before any owner can operate a business in San Antonio, they need a permit by the City of San Antonio’s Animal Care Services. This body ensures animals are treated properly, in accordance with animal rights laws in the City.

City of San Antonio’s Animal Care Services
(210)207-8282

Vehicles for Hire

Chapter 33 of the City Code protects public health, safety, and convenience. The unit tasked with enforcing the regulations of the Code is the Ground Transportation Unit. Taxis, limousines, charters, and tours are some of the vehicles the unit regulates.

(210)207-7378
Vehicles for Hire

Guidelines on Business Name Registration

For detailed information about business name registration, visit:

Assumed Name Certificate

An Assumed Name Certificate or Doing Business As (DBA) certificate must be on file with each county clerk office in the country where business operations will hold. This applies to sole proprietorships and partnerships. The Assumed Name Certificate is important in informing the public of the registered agent of a business and how they can contact them. Some banks also request them. However, it does not add exclusivity to your business name. Filing for this certificate must be renewed every ten years.

Copyrights, Trademark, and Service Marks

Federal Trademarks and Service Marks can be obtained at the US Patent and Trademark Office:

US Patent and Trademark Office
(800) 786-9199

State Trademarks and Service Marks can be obtained at the Texas Secretary of State Office:

Texas Secretary of State Office
(512) 463-9760

For copyrights visit:

US Copyright Office
(877) 476–0778

Guidelines on Incorporation Requirements

For detailed information about incorporation requirements, visit:

TEXAS SECRETARY OF STATE

Statutory Filings Division, Corporations Section

James E. Rudder Bldg. 1019 Brazos St., Austin, Texas 78701

(512 463-5555

Business Incorporation

Businesses operating as corporations in Texas must file Articles of Incorporation with the Office of the Secretary of State. Other business entities that have to file under this Office are Limited Partnerships, Limited Liability Partnerships, Limited Liability Companies, Professional Corporation, Professional Associations, and Non-Profit Corporations. While the office can provide requirements for their creation, it does not provide forms for organizational documents, with the one exception being limited liability partnerships.

Businesses from other regions that want to operate in Texas need a Certificate of Authority from the Office of the Secretary of State.

Through the Texas Secretary of State Online Access (SOSDirect), subscribers can fill out business entity formation documents online. For more information, call (512) 475-2755. For foreigners doing business in the US, a Visitor Visa is required. The application can be at the American Embassy. Some foreign citizens want to take it up a notch and establish their business in San Antonio, and they need Form I-526 from the USCIS office, 20760 US-281 Suite A, San Antonio, TX 78258.

An Apostille, which is essentially a certification of legitimacy, is required to do business in Mexico. It comes with a $15 fee and can be obtained at the Corporate Section of the Secretary of State of Texas. Contact them at (512) 463-5578.

Guidelines on Business Tax Requirements

INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE

8626 Tesoro Drive

San Antonio, Texas 78217

(210) 841-2090

Business and Specialty Tax Line – (800) 829-4933

Identification Number

Any sole proprietor that pays wages must have an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Partnerships, corporations, and non-profit organizations also require one. You can use your Social Security Number as your Tax Identification Number. You can visit the IRS office or call Specialty Tax Line at (800) 829-4933 for assistance.

There are taxes small businesses may have to pay, namely:

Federal income tax

This is a pay-as-you-go tax, and every business, aside from partnerships, is expected to file an annual report to the IRS. The federal income tax is simply tax on your income during a year.

Self-employment tax

This tax is for self-employed individuals. It involves the Social Security and Medicare taxes.

Employment tax

For businesses with employees, owners must get Publication 15, Circular E, Employers Tax Guide.

Federal unemployment tax

This tax is part of the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA). This tax applies to workers who lose their jobs and is paid separately from the Social Security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax.

Excise tax

This is one of the broadest tax forms in the country, covering environmental taxes, communications and air transportation taxes, fuel taxes, tax on the first retail of heavy vehicles, and sale of specific products.

There are, of course, conditions each one of these taxes requires, and you can get that in detail from the IRS. If you need tax-related forms, you can request a Business Tax Kit. Aside from the forms, the Kit answers many of the other questions owners may have about taxes. Aside from their website, you can reach out for the Kit at (800) 829-3676.

Sales and Use Tax Permit

Some products cannot be sold without a Sales and Use Tax Permit. While applying for this permit is free, bond requirements have to be furnished. Given the gravity of operating without tax permits – up to a $500 fine a day – small businesses owners should ensure they communicate with the task answer desk about questions and issues they may have regarding taxes. But before you call them, ensure you have your Social Security Number, Employer Identification Number, and Certificate of Authority Number (if applicable.) The Texas Franchise Tax is a privilege taxable businesses and organizations in Texas have to pay.

While all of these taxes may seem overwhelming and difficult to keep track of, owners cannot afford to take a risk by violating them. The penalties can be grave, especially for small businesses. Contact the IRS if you have any issues with taxes.

Guidelines on Business Property and Employer Requirements

BEXAR APPRAISAL DISTRICT

411 N. Frio St.

San Antonio, TX 78207

(210) 224-8511

Business property

According to the Texas Property Tax Code, all tangible property that produces income, directly or indirectly, should be rendered annually. The forms are available online and in the Bexar Appraisal District Office. You can reach out to them for more information on reporting the business personal property. Home-based businesses can also reach out to the Bexar Appraisal District Office for more information on reporting the business personal property.

Employer Requirements

The Employer Status Report is important for any hiring business in Texas. There is a booklet containing all of the necessary guidelines and requirements, which can be gotten for free from the Texas Workforce Commission. Employers particularly have to be wary about their tax obligations when hiring independent contractors. There may be some confusion about the status of whoever you are employing, so be sure to speak to the IRS about any issues you may have.

This commission and the IRS use some common factors to evaluate the relationship between the owner and the employee. Knowing all of these factors off-hand is obviously not feasible for many, which, by implication, means deciding on the ‘employee or independent contractor status is not possible. However, the IRS can make this determination for you through Form SS-8. You can get the form by calling (800) 829-3676. Below are additional guides for Texas businesses about employer taxes.

Especially for Texas Employers online – www.twc.state.tx.us/news/efte/tocmain2.html

Especially for Texas Employers PDF FILE – www.twc.state.tx.us/news/efte/efte.pdf

Request a print version via e-mail: tax.statusesptxemp@twc.state.tx.us

Guidelines on Environmental Regulations

TEXAS COMMISSION ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY (TCEQ)

Small Business Assistance Program

PO Box 13087 Austin, Texas 78711-3087

(800) 447-2827

(210) 403-4039 in San Antonio

Environmental Regulations

Before starting business operations, you have to ensure all environmental regulations and requirements are met. Contact the TCEQ Small Business Assistance Program to find out details about the regulations over your type of business. Also, other agencies like the San Antonio CPA Society (210) 828-2722 and the San Antonio Bar Association (210) 227-1853 can help with referrals.

Other important telephone numbers are:

  • Water Service – San Antonio Water System: (210) 704-7297
  • Electric/Gas – CPS Energy: (800) 773-3077
  • Telephone – AT&T: (800) 499-7928

For information about insurance, contact the Texas Department of Insurance at their Consumer Help Line – (800) 252-3439.

Guidelines on Commercial Construction

  • 1901 S. Alamo St. San Antonio, TX 78204
  • Monday – Friday 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • 210-207-1111

The Development and Business Services Center regulates building permits for commercial purposes.

Introduction and Permit Categories

Small business owners looking to construct commercial buildings need to understand first that there are different categories of construction, namely:

  • New construction: Erecting a structure from the ground or adding to an existing structure. Plan review time: 45 calendar days.
  • Interior finish-out: Completing a shell building or interior remodelling of an existing business. Plan review time: 20 calendar days.
  • Remodel work: Interior and exterior work, including parking lots. Plan review time: 15 calendar days
  • Demolition: Partial or total demolition of an existing structure. Plan review time: Same day
  • Miscellaneous commercial: Mezzanines, storefront replacement, awnings, controlled access gates, marquees, etc.

No Plans Permit

There are different categories of construction. Knowing the distinction is important as plan review times for each category differ. However, some commercial construction permits do not require a plan review time at all. They are:

  • Electrical replacement and repairs of less than 100 KVA (Kilo Volt-Amp), single-phase or 150 KVA, 3-phase.
  • Electrical annual mechanical permit for mechanical work.
  • Plumbing replacement and repair of plumbing work.
  • Mechanical replacement and repairs of any heating, ventilating, cooling or refrigeration system.

The latter two must, however, be performed by licensed professionals. For more information, you should go through this official guide.

San Antonio Business Development Programs

The City of San Antonio has several business development programs that can greatly assist small businesses. They include:

–        Small Business Economic Development Advocacy Program (SBEDA): This program is concerned with improving awareness and utilization of small, minority, and women-owned businesses in the City. The Small Business office is the body that administers the SBEDA program.

–        Industry Development Division: This body assists businesses in San Antonio to develop and expand. The Division covers both new and existing businesses, including those just moving into the City. The incentives this Division offers include Tax Credits, Grants, Low-Interest Loans, Tax Exemptions, Training Funds or Programs, Reduced Utility Costs.

–        Workforce Development Division: The Workforce Development Division of San Antonio helps develop the overall workforce of the City by organizing training programs for interested individuals and then linking these individuals with small businesses that require their services. The exact program that sees to the achievement of this is the Train for Jobs SA Program. The relevant fields in this program are construction, IT/cybersecurity, healthcare, education, manufacturing, and aerospace.

–        Global Engagement Office

This office works with the Economic Development Department to pull in foreign investors into the City. This goes the other way, too, as this office provides community resources for owners interested in exporting their products. For more information, call (210) 207-8100.

–        Small Business Liaison

Starting a business is not as straightforward as you may imagine. Many intending owners don’t even have an idea of the licensing, permitting, and regulatory processes required for starting a legitimate business. This is what this unit is for. The Small Business Liaison is located at Launch SA, inside the Downtown Central Library, 600 Soledad St., 78205. If you have questions, reach out to them at (210) 207-3903.

–        Small Business Advocacy Committee

This advisory committee of 11 appointed members and all City Council members function to assist the City Manager and City Council in reviewing programs that promote small, minority and women-owned business participation contracts in the City.

–        Center City Development and Operations Department

Located at 100 E. Houston St. Suite 1900, this department was established to boost the development of businesses and other cultural organizations in the neighborhoods of San Antonio. For more information, contact them at (210 207-1041.

–        Small Business Administration – San Antonio District Office

The San Antonio District Office serves 55 counties in Central and Southwest Texas and is committed to helping small businesses start and grow their business. The District achieves this by assisting the businesses financially, organizing training workshops, and helping with contracting issues. You can find them at 615 E. Houston St., Suite 298, or reach out at (210) 403-5900.

–        San Antonio SCORE

This body provides business advice to small businesses and non-profit organizations about starting, growing, and managing their businesses. The aim is to help these businesses develop. For more information, call (210) 403-5931.

USTA Institute for Economic Development: The USTA Institute has several programs that help the overall development of small businesses in the City. Their programs are for both existing and new owners. Below are some of the programs with the appropriate phone numbers you can call stated. For a physical meeting, visit 501 W. Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard.

–        Small Business Development Center (SBDC) (210) 458-2460

The SBDC is active in San Antonio and the ten counties surrounding Bexar County, providing professional, free business advice to new and existing business owners. Additionally, the SBDC organizes training workshops and programs to aid the development of interested owners further.

–        San Antonio MBDA Business Center (MBDA) 210) 458-2480

This program essentially helps minority business owners get more from their businesses. There are several different services in stock, namely financial analyses, loan and bond packaging, strategic planning, government contracting, Minority Business Enterprise, Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, HUB and 8(a) certifications, marketing, public relations, and advertising services.

–        SBDC Rural Business Program (210) 458-2020

As you may imagine, the Rural Business Program sets out to help businesses in the rural areas of the City develop. Also, this program drives increased collaborations and partnerships with other more established organizations. Furthermore, the SBDC Rural Business Program helps develop the rural communities in which the businesses are located by creating quality jobs.

–        Procurement Technical Assistance Center (210) 458-2458

This body is concerned with helping small businesses in the City expand their business up to a federal level. This is primarily done by securing contracts with the government and military installations. Speaking of which, military veterans and active personnel who want to establish a business are also special beneficiaries of this program.

–        Southwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (STAAC) (210) 458-2495

This unit, alongside the US Economic Development Administration, helps businesses that are affected by foreign competitors in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. The overarching aim of STAAC is to help these small businesses compete with bigger, more established, foreign businesses.

You can contact each program through a phone call, e-mail, or website. Note that many of the functions these programs offer overlap, and it may seem redundant or not specific to your needs. But these programs are different in their own rights and have been specially formulated to target a specific need. This way, there is at least one program for all businesses.

List of Incubators and Accelerators

Incubators and accelerators are important for small businesses and startups. The former helps small business owners flesh out business ideas and help with legal and business services. The latter – accelerators – help ventures define and build their initial products and secure resources. Accelerators can reduce the cost of launching a small business by as much as 50%.

Both accelerators and incubators offer an environment of collaboration and mentorship. The City of San Antonio has made provisions for incubators and accelerators for small businesses. Note that the requirements and mode of operations of these various incubators and accelerators differ, and you should reach out to them for more information. The list is as follows:

–        Maestro Entrepreneur Center (MEC)

This private 2-year program is concerned with the accelerated development of existing small, minority, woman and veteran-owned businesses in the San Antonio Metro Area. If your business qualifies, the program provides office space and connections with relevant bodies.

–        Roadrunner Incubator at UT San Antonio

This Incubator program host and nurtures new UTSA technology businesses, connecting them to the broader San Antonio Entrepreneurial Ecosystem. This is vital as it helps these businesses break out of their regional or localized mentality into a broader, more generalized ecosystem.

–        Westside Development Corporation – Live-work Unit Accelerator

This program provides low- to moderate-income westside business owners who live where they work to start and grow their business with low overhead, all while receiving technical support along the way. This program launched in 2014 and initially provided participants of the program startup education (if needed), technical assistance, business education including financial and human resources, mentorship, access to capital, financial literacy and credit counselling, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities.

–        UTSA New Venture Incubator

This program’s main focus is to support research from entities that want to license or commercialize UTSA IP. The Incubator is located at UTSA’s Center for Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship (CITE).

–        Geekdom

This body coordinates several incubator programs on the technology field. A friendly, collaborative network connects entrepreneurs, technologists, developers, and creative people, helping them grow their businesses.

Geekdom has several incubator programs focused on the technology field. It is a collaborative co-working space where entrepreneurs, technologists, developers and creative people help each other build businesses and collaborate. They are located on the 7th floor of the Rand Building on Houston St.

–        San Antonio Clean Energy Incubator

This Incubator, SACEI, results from a few important bodies that focus on developing new companies and boosting the development of these companies. The collaborating bodies are the UTSA’s Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute (TSERI) and Texas State Energy Conservation Office, UTSA’s Institute for Economic Development, the San Antonio Clean Tech Forum, the Mission Verde Alliance, and UT’s Austin Technology Incubator. SACEI also aims at sharing promising results with the rest of the country and world at large.

–        Avenida Guadalupe – El Parian Business Incubator

The program is in partnership with Avenida Guadalupe, located at 1410 Guadalupe. The El Parian Business Center is in the heart of the San Antonio Westside community.

–        Liftoff

LiftOff is a program that brings together business owners, both new and existing, in private and open area offices. The goal of the program is to provide an environment for these owners to interact with one another, as well as receive assistance from peers, mentors, and business advisors from the LiftFund Women’s Business Center.

–        Technovum

Located at UT Health San Antonio, this accelerator aims at assisting investigator business owners who want an advanced and more involved role in the commercialization of their UT Health San Antonio-developed inventions. They do this by providing practical commercialization-oriented educational coaching sessions.

–        Velocity TX

This non-profit innovation provides a continuum of entrepreneur assistance services, including funding all within one organization. Also, Velocity TX connects like-minded entrepreneurs to facilitate sharing of visionary ideas that will improve the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

–        Incube Labs

Incube Labs is a life science research lab focused on developing medical breakthroughs that improve patient outcomes. Aside from Texas, the company also operates in San Jose, California, and San Antonio, connecting with universities and entrepreneurs to research possible breakthroughs.

–        Scaleworks

Scalesworks itself is an aggregator, investor, and accelerator for business-to-business SaaS (software-as-a-service) startups. This program provides capital, business advice, and services to ensure the growth of businesses, especially financially. This is done by lending funds to businesses that need them and helping them with property and asset acquisition.

–        Launch SA – Break Fast and Launch

Break Fast and Launch – what a name! This accelerator I the first of its type in the culinary industry in the United States. This program assists food-related businesses to grow by training and mentoring them.

–        Epicenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator Program

The mission of this accelerator program is to become the hub of thought-leading innovation, commercially viable technologies, and infrastructure services that directly lead to the delivery of energy innovation.

–        TMCX Medical Tech Innovation Program

With the aid of a specially crafted curriculum and 200 professionals in the industry, this program provides new businesses with a shared workspace. This eventually translates to more experience and expertise on the side of owners, causing increased growth and development.

–        Bunker Labs

Bunker Labs is a national network of veteran and military spouses entrepreneurs which helps military personnel start and grow their own businesses.

–        Civtech SA

CivTechSA connects students, companies, and the tech community with the City. The focus is solving community challenges and developing civically-minded tech talents.

–        Realco

This accelerator program seeks to accelerate the growth of B2B new businesses by investing in them. Realco places a huge emphasis on quality, meaning they don’t take more than ten companies a year to work with. However, the lucky companies can be assured of top-notch information and guidance.

Selling to the Government

Small businesses can transact with the San Antonio Government. However, owners need to register with the City via the Central Vendor Registration (CVR) before any business can be done. The registration is done entirely online, and upon completion, the City will get in touch through e-mails. The body responsible for the registration is the San Antonio Electronic procurement System (SAEPS/CVR). Other procurement services and programs for specific needs and purposes include:

–        Bexar County Purchasing Department (210) 335-2211

The Bexar County Purchasing Department provides procurement services for Bexar County departments and other relevant information on how to conduct business with Bexar County. In order to get on the County Bidder’s List, you may request an application from the County of Bexar, Purchasing Department, County Courthouse, San Antonio, Texas 78207. The department is located at 1103 S. Frio St.

–        CPS Energy Purchasing, Contracts, and Small Business Development (210) 353-2474

This department ensures that small, minority, woman-owned businesses are in a prime position to serve as contractors and suppliers to CPS Energy. A list of products and services that Bexar County offers can be easily accessed if requested. You can contact them through their phone number, website, or at 145 Navarro St., 9th floor.

–        Via Metropolitan Transit (210) 362-2170

Business contractors in the City can learn of available opportunities through the VIA Bid Line at (210) 362-2001. Aside from providing available contracts information, VIA also conducts training and workshops for disadvantaged businesses in the City.

–        San Antonio Water System (SAWS) Small, Minority, and Women-Owned Business Program (SMWBP) (210) 704-7908, 2800

This program ensures all sectors of the business community, including small, minority, and women-owned businesses, have a fair and equitable chance to participate in contracting opportunities SAWS offers. They are located at U.S. Hwy 281 North.

–        University of Texas at San Antonio Purchasing Office (210) 458-4068

Some businesses fall under the category “Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUBs).” The University of Texas at San Antonio Purchasing Office supports, encourages, and assists these businesses in their quest for procurement and contracting opportunities offered by UTSA.

–        San Antonio Housing Authority (210) 477-6262

This body encourages participation of Minority-Owned Business Enterprises (MBE), Women-Owned Enterprises (WBE), Small Business Enterprises (SBE), and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE). The participation they encourage may be in the form of direct sales by subcontracting or a business partnership. You can find them at 818 S. Flores St.

Small, Minority, and Women-Owned Business

The South Central Texas Regional Certification Agency (SCTRCA) is primarily concerned with enhancing participation for small, minority, women, disadvantaged, veteran-owned businesses in the City of San Antonio. This agency is non-profit-oriented and serves both private and public businesses. For interested and eligible business owners, you can register on their website or at their physical office at 3201 Cherry Ridge St., Building C-319.

Applications are available online. All you have to do is follow the links listed below. However, while you can get an application form online, you have to submit a hardcopy application with a signature. If you have any questions regarding applications, you should contact the SCTRCA.

Agencies and partners that recognize the SCTRCA certification are City of San Antonio, Bexar County, Edwards Aquifer Authority, San Antonio Housing Authority, San Antonio Water System, VIA Metropolitan Transit, San Antonio River Authority, Brooks City-Base, San Antonio Independent School District, University Health System, Alamo Community College District, and Port Authority San Antonio.

Business and Economic Development Incentives

The Economic Development Department of San Antonio has put some economic incentives and business development programs in place to minimize the cost of locating or expanding a business in the City. The Incentives Guide contains relevant information about the incentives and programs.

Other important units and programs include:

Economic Development Briefing Team

This unit provides na overview of the site development process. They relate directly with decision-makers to ensure the smooth running of the development and permitting process.

Tax Abatement or Tax Phase-In

They help new and existing businesses survive and grow through their first few potentially turbulent years.

Economic Development Incentive Fund

This program can be used in the stead of many incentives programs and can also complement them. Their primary responsibility is granting loans and development grants to businesses.

Foreign Trade Zone

Controlled by the US Customs Service, an FTZ is a secured area outside of the Customs Service jurisdiction. Domestic and foreign goods can be placed in the Zone all of the government taxes and levies.

Freeport Exemption

The City, Bexar County, and two local independent school districts (Judson ISD and San Antonio ISD), allow personal property tax exemptions for businesses that deal with goods-in-transit or inventories used in the manufacturing process. For assistance, please contact the Bexar County Appraisal District, Personal Property Department, at (210) 242-2468.

Tax Increment Financing

This program serves to finance necessary improvements in a particular area publicly.

Customized Workforce Training/Industry Workforce Assistance

The EDD offers specialized training assistance through the Alamo Colleges. The point of this is to incentivize businesses seeking to relocate, retain, or expand their operations within San Antonio.

San Antonio Fee Waiver Program

Provides financial assistance and staff support for businesses when navigating regulatory processes. For more information, contact the City Downtown and Operations Department (210)207-0108 or visit

Development Financing Programs

These are programs the City offer to finance specific types of developments through bonds or loans.

Some incentives are specific to Texas, and some are federal. The Texas Incentives are the:

  1.     State Enterprise Zone Project Designation allows the community to partner with the state for certain local and state tax and regulatory benefits. The aim is to assist businesses that want to locate, expand or retain jobs in economically distressed areas.
  2.     Skills Development Fund is a job–training program providing funds for training Texas businesses and workers. The Texas Workforce Commission coordinates this incentive.
  3.     Texas Enterprise Fund provides the state’s leaders with a “deal-closing fund” that can then be redirected into areas of need in the City.

Federal Incentive Programs include the:

  1.     EB-5 Program is offered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The program offers a way for foreign investors in the City to become US citizens. These investors must have been operating for two or more years.
  2.     Historically Underutilized Business Zone, also known as HUBzone, provides federal contracting assistance for qualified small businesses that are located in historically underutilized business zones.

Additionally, there are zones referred to as opportunity zones, which are communities of economic distress that have been nominated by the state or certified by the US Treasury Department. These zones are entitled to preferential tax treatments. If your business falls in this zone, you may be entitled to certain tax benefits. However, ensure you confirm with the IRS and not just assume before making any tax decisions.

Employer Labor Compliance Reference

Businesses are entitled to specific compensation programs. Usually, these programs apply when there is a work-related injury, human rights issue, or discrimination problem. Also, these commissions ensure minimum wage and child labor standards are not compromised. They are listed below.

Worker’s Compensation Commission Ombudsman

Assists persons involved in worker’s compensation claims or suffering from a work-related injury.

Texas Workforce Commission

Provides covered employees with income and medical benefits if they are injured on the job or have a work-related injury. The exception to this is gross negligence or carelessness on the employee’s path.

Texas Commission on Human Rights

Coordinates workforce development services in the state.

For any complaints, you can reach out to:

US Department of Labor

Wage and Hour Division (WHD)