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Cafe Commerce Opens Its Doors To Local Businesses, Entrepreneurs

Café Commerce via Facebook

A one-stop shop for people with business ideas is now open. The program, called Café Commerce, mirrors the college resource center, Café College.

At the kickoff event Monday at the Central Library downtown, where Café Commerce is headquartered, Mayor Julián Castro held up a book to illustrate how San Antonio grew up.

"A few years ago, I was in a used bookstore and I came across this book, 'The Businesses that Built San Antonio,' Castro said. "It was put out by the chamber in the 1980s. And it was a fascinating read about all of the different companies, large and small, that had contributed to the prosperity that we know today in San Antonio."

Now Castro, who has got one foot out the door on his way to becoming the secretary of Housing and Urban Development in President Obama's cabinet, wants to take that energy and focus on growing small businesses in 2014 and beyond. Castro said small business contributes a large portion of jobs in the city.

Café Commerce will offer training, networking and support. The president, Peter French, said Café Commerce has a ways to grow, though. On Monday, French said the initial offerings are small.

"The program that we have now is fairly limited," he said. "So I think the predominant growth will be in the entrepreneurship support and networking curriculum. And so basically we're out looking for ideas, we're shopping for ideas, we're shopping for programs."

Castro said he thinks the center will mirror Café College, the resource center not far from City Hall where people can go for help with college applications and financial aid information.

"I'm confident that because of what happens here, 50 years from now another book will be written with new names in it and new companies," Castro said.

Several programs will be included in Café Commerce's first few months, including a weekly opportunity for entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas to investors.

More information can be found on the website: www.cafecommercesa.org.