Houston business leaders increase bonding capacities through city program

The City of Houston's Office of Business Opportunity (OBO) created a Bonding Education Program (BEP) to help local entrepreneurs. To date, the program has been successful, as 34 business leaders have graduated, and these people could make a difference in the community. Additionally, the program could lead to ongoing financial success throughout the city, which could play a role in the decisions of many people who pursue some of the homes for sale in Houston

City Mayor Annise Parker points out that BEP is one of the options available to help Houston business owners reach their long-term goals.

"Houston's economic success, especially the rebounding increase in jobs after the recession [in the late 2000s], is largely due to the success of our small businesses," Parker said. "We are going to aggressively continue to make sure opportunities are available to as many Houston small business owners as we can through programs like BEP."

For example, Ovidio Gutierrez, the President and CEO of GS Construction in Spring, Texas, used the program to improve his company's finances. He was able to obtain bonding for $157,000 and pursue contracts with the City of Houston to expand his business' profits.

OBO Director Carlecia D. Wright notes that the program could have a substantial effect on Houston's small business owners in the future. In fact, this year's graduates could help community members learn what it takes to get their businesses to build bonding capacity with support from the program.

How does BEP work?
Houston business operators can participate in two BEP components - bond readiness tutorials and educational workshops.

Bond readiness training helps people understand the application process involved with these financial agreements. The tutorials provide one-on-one interactions with bond producers, underwriters and other professionals who have a wealth of experience. These experts allow local business owners to review their applications and correct any deficiencies or omissions before these forms are submitted.

With educational workshops, business operators receive information that can be used to enhance their operations. There are seven sessions available, and they emphasize networking and the steps involved in developing bonding capacity.

The 2012 bond program was the first of its kind in Houston, and local officials expect it to be offered in the future. This year's initiative ran from August 7, 2012, to September 25, 2012, for no charge to participants, and the next program is currently scheduled for spring 2013.