“Everybody has something they can contribute,” explains Mariah Kilbourne, Training Coordinator at the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the UTSA Downtown Campus. The SBDC offers advising as well as classes and seminars to the small business community. Through these services, more people are given the resources and opportunities to pursue their passions.

Mariah curates low cost and no-cost seminars, discussions, and classes which are open to the public and provide valuable information to aspiring or current small business owners in the San Antonio community. She says that the experience of inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurship has been awesome. 

Mariah Kilbourne, the Small Business Development Center Training Coordinator at UTSA Downtown Campus attends a seminar at Geekdom Events Center on August 3, 2018. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio

After earning a degree in Communication from Texas Lutheran University, Mariah worked in historic downtown Seguin writing stories about local businesses and later recruiting businesses to come into the community. She has continued the thread of helping local business while working in and exploring downtown San Antonio.

Mariah Kilbourne, the Small Business Development Center Training Coordinator at UTSA Downtown Campus attends a seminar at Geekdom Events Center on August 3, 2018. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio

She has a passion for live music and her favorite downtown venue is the Majestic Theatre. Mariah enjoys being in the performing arts segment of Houston Street, adjacent to the tech district. Innovation is a core value of the SBDC, and helps align the growing tech community and the academic initiatives represented by the center. They often pair up with organizations in the tech district for classes, such as social media seminars at the Geekdom Event Centre.

Mariah Kilbourne is seen assisting a student at the UTSA Downtown Campus during a business class. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio 

Mariah is a self-described social butterfly, and doesn’t like being still for too long. Her favorite part of the job is getting to interact with participants of the center’s classes. “I think what they take away is knowing that there’s somebody in their corner,” she says.

Both in the workplace and in her personal life, Mariah is an advocate for people with disabilities. She was named Ms. Wheelchair Texas in 2012 and then Ms. Wheelchair America in 2013. Through this leadership program, Mariah was able to present on issues surrounding disability and her thoughts on how to be a constructive and positive influence.

“A lot of times people have the mentality that people with disabilities are on the receiving end of having assistance,” she elaborates. So the fact that in her position she is able to help so many others injects positivity into the perception and conversation on disability. 

Mariah Kilbourne was named Ms Wheelchair Texas in 2012 and in 2013. Photo courtesy provided by Mariah Kilbourne. 
Mariah Kilbourne, the Small Business Development Center Training Coordinator at UTSA Downtown Campus. Michael Cirlos / Centro San Antonio

Mariah enjoys working in and exploring downtown, and sees progress in making the neighborhood accessible to all. She shares her experiences of going to planning committee meetings on behalf of the non-profit DisabilitySA. “We may not always be able to change the past but being able to have an open mindset in moving forward and bringing all voices to the table is awesome,” she says of community spaces, “I definitely think we’re moving forward in a good direction.”

“It’s kind of neat how the entrepreneurial spirit ties everyone together,” Mariah continues. This statement applies to accessibility in a broader sense within small business.

Though the audiences are broad and diverse, they share with each other an entrepreneurial spirit and goal of starting or growing a small business. At the end of the day, it’s important to include as much of the community as possible because in many ways these local businesses define the community.

“Small businesses- you’re playing a role in what your community is,” explains Mariah, “You’re making connections with other people and building those relationships and that’s what’s helping the city thrive.”

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