Miguel Lopez helps local businesses get off the ground in role as executive director of Lone Star College System’s Small Business Development Cente

Miguel Lopez stepped into his role as executive director of Lone Star College System’s Small Business Development Center on April 3 after 17 years in banking. Lopez, who grew up in Humble and has lived in The Woodlands since 1995, also has about six years of experience working in the oil and gas industry.

The SBDC provides general consulting services funded by taxpayer dollars to small-business owners in LSCS’s service area, Lopez said.

What made you want to become the SBDC director?

I enjoy working with small-business owners. It’s fun sitting across the table from someone who—this is their dream; this is something they want to do.

I love the entrepreneurial spirit that comes with small-business owners. It’s not easy—it’s a challenge. I love watching others succeed, and it’s fun when you sit back and you watch a small-business owner run with it.

Where do you hope to see the SBDC one to five years from now?

[I hope] to be able to keep up with the growth both in Harris County and Montgomery County. It’s unique, [and] it’s special to be at the point where part of our service area is inside the fourth-largest city in this country. The other part of this service area is one of the fastest-growing counties in our country.

It’s exciting because we assist in that growth with the small businesses we work with.

Growth doesn’t just apply to the residential growth. Small businesses are also growing here, and we’re excited to be a part of that and assist in that.

What are some challenges that come with being the SBDC director?

People don’t know who we are [or] where we are and what kind of services we offer. One of the things I challenge the team with is [to] not be Secret Service agents about what we do. I work with the team, and we all work with the different chambers throughout our region.

We are a resource to the chamber’s members, the businesses out in the communities.

hat are some differences between your role as the SBDC director versus jobs you have had in the past?

Working directly with the small-business owners … as a consultant to them. We’re not their banker, we’re not their CPA [and] we’re not their attorney.

At the end of the day, we can only advise and suggest to the business owner, give them options and make them think.

Another difference is just the scope. In the past, I was responsible for one [business] under this umbrella. This is 1,400 square miles ... working with small businesses and the communities.