Metropolitan Center advises local business

By Sonal Patel

Daily Cougar Staff

In an effort to decipher economic development in the Third and Fifth Wards, the UH Small Business Development Center has launched a new program to help existing businesses build their skills in startup, operation and expansion.

"We've developed this new center because current revitalization efforts in central Houston present tremendous opportunities for entrepreneurs and business owners," said Mike Young, UH SBDC acting executive director. "We want to ensure that the area's new and existing businessmen are prepared to succeed."

The Metropolitan Center, with two office locations in the central city, employs bilingual consultants who advise business owners free of charge in all aspects of business ownership. Providing residents with offices in the East End and on Griggs Road, business owners are advised about such skills as short range planning, gaining, financing and advertising strategies.

A new center is scheduled to open in the Fifth Ward Friday, and another in the Third Ward will open Oct. 15, according to James Evans, director of the UH SBDC Metropolitan Center.

The centers will hold training events in both English and Spanish, taught by experienced business consultants.

"I think it's innovative," said Lupe Lugo, senior marketing major. "It's proposing to develop neighborhoods that most need economic improvement."

The Metropolitan Center is an expansion of the existing economic development program of the UH College of Business Administration.

"The center has a $400,000 budget, and we are basically open to anyone who would want to consult with us," said Evans.

"The idea came about when some of the directors were contemplating of an effective way we could do this, so we began to organize it attentively," Evans said.

"So far, we've hired all the people we've needed," he said, referring to the center's progression.

The UH SBDC Metropolitan Center will have offices in the following areas: East End, 5425 Polk Road; One-Stop Capital Shop, 5330 Griggs Rd.; Third Ward, 5445 Almeda Rd.; and Fifth Ward, 4120 Lyons Rd.

Reach Patel at mnort@bayou.uh.edu.

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