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Economy

Small Biz Insider: Advice for 2020 Graduates, Houston's Newest Entrepreneurs

7/7/20
Houston-area colleges and universities graduate more than 100,000 students each year. But 2020 is an especially challenging year for these new graduates, including those who aspire to start their own business venture. Houston faces a dual economic challenge stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and the oil downturn. Together, these two factors have created an economic situation that’s quickly surpassed unemployment numbers from the Great Recession of 2007-2009.  Our guests on this episode are: Dr. Yolanda Norman is the Assistant Director of the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering Career Center and leads the UH Cooperative Education Program. She is also the founder and CEO of FirstGenCollege Consulting.   Dr. Hesam Panahi is Interim Executive Director of the Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He's also a Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at the Jones Graduate School of Business as well as a Lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Houston. Here are some highlights from this episode:  Is now the best time to be an entrepreneur in Houston given the economic conditions? Yes and no. Dr. Panahi said on the one hand, there are a lot of new opportunities to innovate and new problems to solve. Plus, with so many furloughs and layoffs, there's a pool of very talented people available to pull into the startup ecosystem. But raising money for your venture will be tough. Dr. Panahi said many are putting whatever resources they have into their existing businesses and investments, so finding someone to write a check will be difficult.    Graduating without a job or venture opportunity? Take inventory of your skills and projects. Dr. Norman and Dr. Panahi said they've had several students who've either had their job offers rescinded or had new job start dates pushed back to next year. So what now? Dr. Norman said new graduates should consider the projects they've done, their capabilities and what they can bring to the table. Include that in your resume and cover letter. Tell others what value you can offer as an entrepreneur.    Adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, whether you're planning to start your own business venture or not. "There are things entrepreneurs do that you can apply in your day-to-day routine," said Panahi. Entrepreneurs take on a ton of risk, not knowing what the outcome is going to be, and they try to mitigate that risk as much as possible but are flexible enough to quickly change direction if they need to. Even if you don't want to be an entrepreneur, get involved in entrepreneurship programs and you'll find bits and pieces that'll be useful to you.    Small Biz Insider is presented by:    Click here for more COVID-19 resources for small businesses. Visit the Partnership's COVID-19 Resource page for updates, guidance for employers and more information.  The Small Biz Insider podcast is part of our digital series highlighting entrepreneurs in the greater Houston region who are making a big impact in the small business community.  Subscribe to Small Biz Insider through these popular podcast players: Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Google Podcasts Listen on Spotify
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Economy

Governor Abbott and Judge Hidalgo Issue New COVID-19 Orders

6/26/20
This morning, Governor Greg Abbott announced a change to certain elements of the Reopen Texas plan.  Per Governor Abbott’s order, effective at noon today, all bars and similar establishments must close. These businesses may remain open for delivery and take-out. Beginning Monday, June 29, restaurants may remain open for dine-in service, but at a capacity not to exceed 50 percent of total listed indoor occupancy. Previously, restaurants were allowed to operate at 75 percent of capacity. Outdoor gatherings of 100 or more people must be approved by local governments, with certain exceptions, and rafting and tubing businesses must close. The governor’s executive order can be found here.   In Harris County today, Judge Hidalgo announced a change in the COVID-19 threat level system, which advises county residents on the local level of transmission. Judge Hidalgo raised the threat level from Level 2, “significant and uncontrolled level of COVID-19”, to Level 1, meaning that “residents should minimize contacts with others wherever possible and avoid leaving home except for the most essential needs.” Judge Hidalgo also issued a Stay Home advisory, which encourages residents to remain at home whenever possible. These measures signal that the Houston region is at an inflection point, and we must join together to stop the spread. We believe that residents across the region should stay home as much as possible. This should include office workers who are back in the workplace but could effectively work from home. We encourage employers to strongly consider returning to a work-from-home model where it is practical. We also ask companies to remind their employees that their actions when out in public – away from the workplace – will likely determine whether the virus enters the workplace. Maintaining social distancing, wearing masks in public spaces and washing hands are all key to stopping the spread of the coronavirus at this critical moment. Managing Positive COVID-19 Cases A reminder that if someone in the workplace does test positive, we have developed a protocols document that helps address the actions businesses should take to mitigate the risk to others. Get the latest information on Governor Abbott's order, industry best practices for reopening, and the Partnership's work safe principles here. Visit the Partnership's COVID-19 Resource page for updates, guidance for employers and more information.
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Net Effect: Virtual Coffee Talk

Are you feeling cooped up and in need of human interaction amidst social distancing? US, TOO! Get ready to introduce yourself, your business, share tips, chat and have some fun. Grab your favorite morning beverage…

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Centers for Small Business

The Houston office of the U.S. Small Business Administration helps connect companies and entrepreneurs with the tools and resources necessary for success. 

The Small Business Development Center at the University of Houston offers workshops, advisory services, research assistance and much more for small businesses in the area. 

Free consulting on finding contracting opportunities that match your business.

The WBEA provides support to entrepreneurs in education, scholarships, and matchmaking with corporate contracting offices. We are committed to inspiring and empowering women who want to start or expand their business.

Promoting the growth and success of local small businesses, with special emphasis on historically underutilized groups by ensuring their meaningful participation in the government procurement process.

Provides quality business education, access to capital, business support services and alumni service for business owned who are poised to grow.

A small business program that provides resources, education, and connection to capital to help Houston-area entrepreneurs start or expand a business.

Rice University’s Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies is partnering with The Ion to provide education and insight to small business owners, helping them return to normal operations and recover from the closures.

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