WTAMU Small Business Development Center sees increase in new clients

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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Despite the pandemic, many people in the Panhandle are taking a chance and opening new businesses.

During the month of January, West Texas A&M University’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) met with almost double the number of clients they met with on January of last year.

“After the New Year, everyone has new year resolutions and want to do new things,” said Gina Woodward, regional director for West Texas A&M University’s Small Business Development Center. “2021 has definitely been busier than any other new year that I have experienced.”

According to the agency, most of the new clients are first time business owners who have decided to follow their dreams of being entrepreneurs or expanding current businesses.

“I think is just more of what we saw in 2020, people have had time to think about what makes them happy, what do they want to do with their lives and their businesses,” said Woodward.

While the impact of COVID-19 has varied depending on industry, a new study by the U.S Chamber of Commerce says the pandemic has disproportionately impacted women-owned businesses.

However, these type of studies have not stopped local female entrepreneurs like Jaz Taylor, who took leap of faith and opened her online boutique in May of 2020.

“Last year happened to be the year I took the leap,” said Taylor, owner of Ohmyfro Collections. “We were you know home more and I thought, ‘I have this extra time, why not just go for it?’”

“What we have really seen this year is women really going forward with business as usual,” said Woodward. “Salons, we’ve seen a lot of retail and not just online some brick and mortar retail.”

Aside from the challenges, the pandemic has also opened opportunities for certain businesses such as food trucks.

“We saw a fair number of food trucks before COVID, but after COVID and once we realized, we still couldn’t open to full capacity, those restaurants and even some new clients soon realized there is a need for food trucks,” said Woodward.

While the interest in food trucks has increased, most of SBDC new clients have expressed interest in brick and mortar stores and restaurants, even if they have to limit capacity.

Consulting services at the Small Business Development Center are free.

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