Bexar County businesses make up for lost time this spring after governor lifts pandemic restrictions

UTSA Small Business Center offers training, advice to small business in 11 counties

SAN ANTONIO – For a year, businesses that are dependent on people gathering have been struggling to stay afloat. On Wednesday, many were able to reopen at 100% capacity.

Sergio Cardona, the owner of Emmazing Play in Leon Valley, says about 80% of his revenue comes from customers hosting private parties at his children’s entertainment center.

“Hopefully, with the state being open 100%, it starts, you know, bringing people in to want to get together and celebrate,” Cardona said.

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The grants and loans he’s applied for have gotten him through the challenging year. The process to receive them is sometimes time-consuming and stressful but necessary, he says.

“Right now, what we’re making is just enough to maybe pay half of the rent here,” Cardona said. “You still got to factor in supplies. You got to factor in payroll, utilities, stuff like that. So, I mean, it’s been very tough.”

Payment for those loans is coming up. The next few months will be crucial for his doors to stay open, but he’s been optimistic no matter how disheartening the reality has been at times.

“We were going to close in December. But then when word came out about the vaccine. The new president was going to come into office, I figured, you know, let’s wait out the spring. Let’s see if the new year brings something different. Things get better. Things change,” he said.

Richard Sifuentes, director of the UTSA Small Business Development Center (SBDC), said the reality of what business owners are dealing with is truly sad.

“There’s some stories that would really bring you to tears,” he said.

The SBDC staff of 10 helps advise, train and guide small business owners in 11 counties at no cost.

“One of the other things that we’re seeing also is that it’s still difficult to get funding, funding which is required for some of these businesses to keep operating, to pivot, to refinance,” Sifuentes said.

Those in the food and beverage business have been the hardest hit, but those in the security and assisted living business are doing well in the pandemic, Sifuentes said. He said some businesses are also seeing that workers don’t want to return to work full-time because they want to continue to collect unemployment.

There’s a lot of changes that owners have to handle besides the money situation, Sifuentes said. He expects the reopening of the state will help businesses. If customers feel comfortable returning, the next few months will be vital for many of them.

The UTSA Small Business Development Center helps business owners in Atascosa, Bandera, Bexar, Comal, Frio, Gillespie, Guadalupe, Kendall, Kerr, Medina and Wilson counties. Call 210-458-2460 for more information.

About the Authors:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.