Business Support Programs
The City of San Marcos (City) is committed to the promotion of quality development in all parts of the city limits and to the improvement of quality of life for its citizens. The City recognizes the breadth and depth of business in San Marcos of varying categories, employee count, ownership status, age of business, and more that contribute to building a strong and vibrant city. This report highlights activities and programs supporting business recruitment, retention, and expansion to build upon this foundation.
Economic development is a team activity involving multiple departments such as Planning and Development Services, Engineering & Capital Improvements, Main Street, and the Library. Support is also provided through a number of community partners, including the Greater San Marcos Partnership (GSMP). GSMP is contracted by the City of San Marcos to complement efforts of City staff in key areas of business attraction, business retention & expansion (BRE), small business development, and workforce development. A selection of GSMP-led programs are included in this report, with more detailed information on their full services at www.greatersanmarcostx.com.
Additional City programs are also in development to offer financial support to local businesses. These programs include the minority business stabilization program, small business retention incentive, and the sustainable resources grant. More information will be provided on these programs in a later update.
Questions about any of the programs listed below may be directed to the City's Economic & Business Development Manager, Kelsee Jordan Lee, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (512) 393-8059.
1 Million Cups Greater SMTX
1 Million Cups Greater SMTX is a free program to educate, engage, and inspire entrepreneurs around the country. The Greater SMTX chapter is one of more than 160 communities participating in this program. San Marcos businesses less than 5 years old are invited to be featured and receive feedback and assistance from a network of community leaders. Each presenter has six minutes to tell who they are, what they are doing, and why they are doing it. After the presentation, there is a 20-minute Q&A session to answer "What can we as a community do to help you"? Join the community at https://www.1millioncups.com/greatersmtx.
Business Retention & Expansion Visits
City of San Marcos and Greater San Marcos Partnership conducts business retention & expansion (BRE) visits. These confidential visits provide another platform for local businesses to share their future plans and current challenges. City and Partnership staff can identify ways to help and bridge connections to local or state resources.
Staff serve as a liaison to businesses for city related questions. Staff help direct business and property owners to the appropriate city department. In particular, Main Street Staff actively foster positive relationships with downtown stakeholders in order to be a friendly face to the downtown business community. This includes distributing information and resources 2-3 times per month via The Scoop e-newsletter. Staff welcome new businesses to downtown and provide them with information regarding Main Street and City services, social media best practices, staff contact information, funding opportunities and business resources.
Downtown Social Media Promotion & Education
Main Street staff utilize the Downtown SMTX digital platforms to promote downtown businesses. This includes social media (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and paid advertisements which link to the DowntownSMTX.com tourism web page. Staff routinely educate downtown businesses on best practices for social media platforms and Google listing for their business. Staff have created guides which are distributed to new businesses during onboarding.
Business Location Services
The City of San Marcos and Greater San Marcos Partnership each organize workshops throughout the year. These educational sessions cover a variety of topics pertinent to small businesses. Previous workshops have covered cybersecurity for business, customer service, financial literacy, bookkeeping, and more.
Details about the City's Economic Development Policy for incentives can be accessed at www.sanmarcostx.gov/incentives.
Business Improvement & Growth (BIG) Grant
The BIG Grant is a matching grant that will reimburse up to 50% for eligible projects up to $20,000. Three programs are available - a façade grant for exterior improvements, and a grant for signage, both funded through the City's General Fund, and a public health grant to mitigate covid-19 effects funded through the American Rescue Plan Act.
The façade and signage grant can be used for items such as new storefront construction, lighting, window replacement and framing, removal of architectural barriers to public accessibility, awning, and the removal and replacement of non-conforming signs.
The public health grant for covid-19 mitigation can be used for items such as HVAC upgrades, construction of outdoor dining, automated entrances and fixtures, and antimicrobial building materials.
Chapter 380 Agreements
The City of San Marcos can offer tax rebates or jobs-based grants to businesses looking to come to, stay in, or expand within the city limits. Factors such as the economic and fiscal impact of the project, the labor force and sustainability practices of the company, and commitment to community values influence whether an incentive is given and at what level.
Businesses located in the Main Street district are eligible to receive advertising funds for downtown businesses to promote their business in areas outside of San Marcos. Advertising must include "Downtown San Marcos" or similar phrase and must be placed outside the San Marcos city limits and extraterritorial jurisdiction. This fund provides a reimbursement grant up up to 50% up to $5,000.
Main Street Incentive Grant
Businesses located in the Main Street District are eligible to apply to the Main Street Incentive Grant. The San Marcos Main Street program established this grant to provide financial assistance to property owners or business owners seeking to renovate or restore facades or signage in the Main Street district. The Main Street program will provide a 50% matching grant to reimburse up to $2,000.
ReviveSMTX. In collaboration with the City of San Marcos, the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce is distributing thousands of dollars to local businesses to help navigate the Covid-19 pandemic. This program provides local businesses with Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. Eligible businesses can receive up to $5,000 to be used for operational safety (e.g. plexiglass dividers, air filtration systems, handheld card reader devices), sanitation products and training, personal protective equipment (PPE), and digital redesign for social distancing.
Library Workforce Programs
While not direct support to businesses, upskilling workers and providing workforce development training is vital to ensuring local businesses have workers. Library staff assist with:
- Finding new job postings
- Resume and cover letter writing
- Interview preparation
- Grant and other application assistance
- General research assistance
- Job skills with technology tools