San Benito developing business incubator

SAN BENITO — Silver Treviño has dreamed up a novelty to give golfers easier, quicker access to their tees.

But for two years, he didn’t find the right place to market his invention.

Until now.

By mid-August, the San Benito Economic Development Corporation expects to open a business incubator, a $153,000 project aimed at helping small businesses to develop.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for small businesses,” Treviño, a retired immigration administrative judge, said Friday.

Across the country, business incubators offer entrepreneurs a place to develop their products and build a customer base to help them open successful businesses.

In 2013, the EDC began planning to turn a former funeral home into a business incubator.

However, the project never got off the ground.

After Rebeca Castillo took over as the EDC’s director in January, she began planning to revive the project.

In March, the EDC opened a 60-day public comment period, requesting residents’ comments on its plans to use $153,000 in sales tax money earmarked to fund so-called quality-of-life projects to turn the old Henry Thomae Funeral Home at 701 N. Bowie St. into a business incubator.

The public comment period runs through May 27.

After the public comment period, city commissioners are expected to approve the project’s funding.

By mid-August, Castillo plans to open the area’s first business incubator.

How it works

Inside the 3,000-square-foot building, Castillo plans to develop the incubator while opening the EDC’s new offices there.

Since the EDC purchased the building for $385,000 in 2013, it’s stood empty near the Heavin Resaca Trail.

“It’s ideal,” Castillo said. “The neat part is the building is operational.”

In her line of work, business incubators are helping more entrepreneurs develop small businesses, Castillo said.

“It’s a trend in economic development for the small-business community,” she said. “We don’t have anything like this in San Benito. It’s a good starting point. We can help them from the beginning. Often, small businesses open and within a year they close down. They may not have the background or resources to understand the logistics of running a business.”

Castillo said the EDC will allow entrepreneurs to use the incubator free of charge while helping them develop business plans.

“Instead of getting a location they can’t afford yet, they can start in the building on a smaller scale to develop their business,” she said.

The project will offer several services aimed at helping small businesses.

The incubator will also offer training sessions to help entrepreneurs develop their business plans, Castillo said.

“Often the individual may have an idea but may not have the skill set to understand the logistics of running a business,” she said.

Castillo said the incubator will also offer entrepreneurs a place to package their products.

“They have a location to meet with a client,” she said.

Castillo said she knows as many as 20 entrepreneurs such as salsa manufactures and 3-D printers who are interested in working out of the incubator.

Treviño is one of them.

Prospective client

Since 2017, Treviño has been manufacturing his Ready Tee, a small plastic golfing accessory used to hold four golf tees.

It also comes with a magnetic golf ball marker.

The product, he said, doubles as an advertising vehicle.

“You can clip it on your cap, belt or golf bag,” Treviño said.

So far, he’s been printing his logos on his products in shops in cities such as Dallas and Austin.

Now, Treviño plans to print his logos at the EDC’s business incubator, saving him as much as $100,000 a year, he said.

“Instead of outsourcing, we can do the job in-house,” he said. “The total savings will allow us to expand tremendously.”

Filling storefronts

Castillo is counting on helping develop businesses so they’ll open shops in town, pumping retail sales tax revenue into city coffers.

The agency offers grants to help business owners set up shop, she said.

“Ideally, they’d be here no more than two years to develop their product and customer base before we graduate them into a storefront,” she said.

What’s an incubator?

Business incubators offer entrepreneurs a place to develop their products and build a customer base to help them open successful businesses.

Incubator project

Cost — $153,000

What’s in there?

EDC offices

Business incubator

Conference room

Proposed commercial kitchen