Women’s History Month: Supporting Women-Owned Businesses
Women-owned companies are on the rise, accounting for one in five U.S. businesses, and a vast number of them are located right here in Texas. With March being National Women’s History Month, it presents an opportunity to showcase the vital role women-owned enterprises play in boosting the Texas economy and the many ways PlainsCapital Bank is supporting this distinct and growing business segment.
The Lone Star State is second only to California in total number of women-owned firms and tied for first in the nation for the economic “clout” of its women-owned businesses. PlainsCapital Bank Edinburg Market President Michael Williamson notes the role women-owned companies play in contributing to the economic health of the Rio Grande Valley—one of the fastest growing areas in the country and state—providing a stable and diversified tax base and helping drive job creation.
“We are privileged to work with some of the pioneering women entrepreneurs who are making their mark on South Texas,” said Williamson.
Amy Cantu, one of PlainsCapital’s many talented women commercial lenders, has witnessed the rise of women-owned companies in the Valley. Over the course of her 25-year career with the Bank, Cantu has worked with numerous women entrepreneurs and executives. Some of her and the Bank’s current customers include, respectively, the owners of: a large commercial plumbing and electrical company, a regional food manufacturer and distributor, and several prominent auto dealerships, as well as a district manager for a national insurance company. From Cantu’s experience working with women executives and entrepreneurs in the Valley, they are strategic thinkers and hands-on managers who are very involved in the day-to-day operations of their businesses. Cultivating relationships with these women business owners takes time, which is why Cantu considers herself first and foremost a relationship manager.
PlainsCapital’s relationship banking model is well suited to women business owners who often view their banking business in relationship, not just transactional, terms.
Williamson points to several key ways in which PlainsCapital Bank is supporting the growth of women-owned businesses in South Texas:
Business Education and Economic Development Initiatives
Post-secondary and graduate business education, along with an economic climate favorable to large, mid-size, and small companies, is vital to supporting the region’s burgeoning healthcare, energy, education, and technology sectors, in addition to the outgrowth of trickle-down businesses. PlainsCapital is investing in key partnerships with organizations like The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and incubators and accelerators like Edinburg-based Hive Effect to help ensure entrepreneurs have access to education and training resources that align with the Valley’s growing employment needs.
Mentoring and Networking
Business makes business—says Cantu—and helping entrepreneurs get in front of the right advisors, develop mentor relationships, forge business partnerships, and gain access to decision makers is key to growth. However, it can be a challenge for busy executives and business owners to broaden their circle of influence. Commercial bankers can provide added support in this area. PlainsCapital’s dedicated focus on networking events creates opportunities to connect women business owners with peers, customers, and community leaders. Cantu used one such recent event to further the relationship between two of her women business customers.
Banking Relationships and Building Assets
Access to capital is pivotal to growing a company, as it can be a major hurdle in a business owner’s ability to scale. The most important thing PlainsCapital does to support women-owned businesses is provide funding.
“In any business, it’s important to establish a lending relationship early to fuel growth, and, more importantly, build assets,” said Williamson. In the absence of a banking history and business assets, it can be harder for a lender to jump in down the road when it comes time for a business to expand. Cantu acknowledges that the savvy women business owners in the Valley, while strong minded, are also reserved. And they prefer minimal debt.
“It takes time to establish a comfort level before business is discussed in detail,” said Cantu. “I focus on building a relationship with these women, learning about their companies, educating them on all of our services, and discovering how we can partner with them to support their business objectives.”
Because PlainsCapital is a commercial bank, it’s able to offer small- to midsize- companies layers of business support, from commercial loans and lines of credit to depository services, treasury management, and private banking, as well as wealth management services for high net worth customers and business owners.
“We’re focused on building relationships with women in business leadership roles—be it startups, established companies, or large corporations—to support their networking, business development, and financial needs,” said Cantu. “We want to help grow and expand our economy and provide women-owned businesses in South Texas the assistance they need to succeed.”