Business owners across Texas and the nation are feeling the fallout of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Many establishments have been forced to shutter their doors either temporarily or permanently in addition to cutting staff amid sharp declines in profits.

In West Texas and the Middle Rio Grande Regions, Sul Ross State University Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) are providing much-needed assistance to places of commerce who are experiencing the squeeze of the present health and financial crisis.

Elizabeth Pena, Executive Director of the SRSU centers in Eagle Pass and Alpine, says that advisors at each center have been working from home over the past weeks in an effort to assist small businesses through the dilemma.

According to Pena, the centers have reinvented themselves from face-to-face small business training and advising sessions to a virtual format.

“Business as usual means interacting with clients via methods we were not accustomed to using,” said Pena.

“Sul Ross has amazing technology that was always at our fingertips but never utilized to the degree we are utilizing it now,” she said.

“This has tremendously facilitated our outreach and we are able to visit with many more small businesses in both regions.”

The SRSU SBDC serves eight counties in the Big Bend Region and nine counties in the Middle Rio Grande.

“Our partners and stakeholders have done an amazing job at referring the SBDCs to people with questions and assistance,” said Pena.

She added that both centers work with regional businesses using a loan under the recently established Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES).

“We have helped new and established clients in putting their paperwork together to submit to their lender of choice for the Paycheck Protection Plan program,” Pena said.

“We are ready to help these same clients compile their documentation for the second phase of the loan, which is the forgiveness portion.”

She said that loans are now funded and monies are being disbursed to clients in both regions.

Both SRSU SBDCs are also assisting clients with their applications for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) through the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) website:

“Along with this loan is the under 10K Loan Advance, which we have also assisted clients in the application process,” said Pena. “SBA has just this week started to contact the applicants concerning disbursement of funds.”

“I am proud of the Sul Ross SBDC team for stepping up from day one of this crisis to help ease the financial impact on small businesses in our communities,” said Chris Clifford, Vice President for Budget and Finance.

“Both of our centers have helped many small businesses in our area access federal, state and local financial help that they might otherwise have missed.”


  • Big Bend SBDC covers eight counties and is staffed by two advisors, a training coordinator and an administrator
  • Middle Rio Grande SBDC serves nine counties and is staffed by three advisors, a training coordinator and an administrator
  • PPP loans are starting to be disbursed with more frequency
  • Both SRSU SBDCs will assist with the forgiveness portion of the PPP, with proof from the business to the lender that loans were used for payroll, rent, utilities and interest on a business mortgage
  • SBA is contacting EIDL applicants
  • Several clients have received PPP loans in both regions
  • Both centers have well trained advisors to help with advice before, during and after the pandemic.

“Communities need to keep supporting the small businesses in order for them to survive this crisis,” said Pena. “Small business owners also need to find ways to reinvent themselves.”

For more information, visit the Sul Ross State University Small Business Development Center website at