City partners with Mexico on business development

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A confident alliance promises to become a lucrative investment for local business leaders and their new partners in Guanajuato, Mexico.

In celebration of the agreement between the International Small Business Development Center (SBDC) of Colorado Springs and the Sistema Estatal de Financiamiento al Desarrollo (SEFIDE), business leaders met last week for a relaxing finale to a hectic few days in the Centennial State.

The organizations, which work to encourage and nourish small businesses in their respective locales, have decided to share information, strategies and tools to better equip entrepreneurs.

SEFIDE, the economic development arm of Guanajuato, a state in central Mexico, had two representatives present at the gathering. Enrique Castro Villalobos is the director general and Enrique Negrete Perez is the SBDC project coordinator of SEFIDE in Léon, Guanajuato.

Over drinks in the basement lobby of the U.S. Bank building on Tejon Street, Tom Naughton of U.S. Bank welcomed the small crowd of guests with wine, beer and appetizers. Naughton thanked all present for allowing him to share in the celebration of signing the SBDC-SEFIDE agreement.

Claus Weidner, an international trade consultant with SBDC, called the agreement “the first step to reach beyond the borders of Colorado.” The local organization primarily will be exchanging business planning strategies with their Mexican partners, but Weidner, who has 30 years of experience in international trade, said he hopes to see trade missions and possibly Colorado Springs and Mexican companies brought together by the partnership. He and SBDC Director Luis Saldarriaga seem very excited about the economic possibilities.

“They approached us over a year ago,” Weidner said. “This inquiry landed on my desk and we’ve been talking and exchanging e-mails with the intent of developing a cooperation. We will exchange ideas and programs.”

Saldarriaga, who began to say “dos Enriques” to a hearty laugh from the crowd, was impressed by the Guanajuato duo’s presentation, and said he was happy that the organizations would be able to provide better training and consulting because of the partnership.

Perez looked pleased throughout the reception, and culminated his feelings in one statement to the group: “I am very happy for new friends, and new business. It’s a nice city, in a nice state.”

Villalobos is looking forward to the exchange of ideas because of his mission to encourage business growth in the 13 economic sectors in Guanajuato. “We will be helping entrepreneurs. Often, they don’t have enough knowledge and unfortunately, the business goes down.”

He hopes that SEFIDE will be able to take planning and programs for small businessmen to the next level, and be able to lend money to young start-ups, through banks. Villalobos says SEFIDE has relationships with commercial banks, development banks, business chambers and educational institutions.

“We are looking to increase the agreement and the commercial relationship between both states,” he said.

When the Mexican President Vicente Fox was governor of Guanajuato, he and a team created SEFIDE. Because Fox is looking to open cooperative groups in other countries, Villalobos enjoys the opportunity to support him by helping Mexican states form their own business development groups.

“SEFIDE will be the adviser, will help in training and also in financing. We celebrate this agreement between Colorado and Guanajuato to exchange opportunities,” Villalobos said. “We expect in another time, some businessmen will visit Guanajuato to sell products from Colorado.”