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January 19, 2016Read More
January 15, 2016
By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ | EDITOR
WESLACO — City leaders have announced a partnership with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to open a mixed-use incubator designed to promote education, entrepreneurship and economic development in the area.
Officials with the Economic Development Corp. of Weslaco confirmed Thursday evening that Mayor David Suarez and city leaders recently signed a memorandum of understanding with UTRGV to begin a partnership between the three entities. This was described in a news release as a commitment to broaden UTRGV’s presence in the Mid-Valley.
“This is not just a win for Weslaco but for all of South Texas,” Suarez said in a prepared statement.
UTRGV President Dr. Guy Bailey added, “This MOU is a testament to UTRGV’s goal to provide regional opportunities to not only our students and faculty, but to the community as well. The City of Weslaco is now considered a valuable, long-term partner and is a community that believes in the same core values as we do.”
City property located at 275 S. Kansas Ave. will be leased to UTRGV over a 10-year period — the cost of which remained unclear as of Friday.
What officials did confirm is $1.3 million the EDC will commit to renovating the 16,225-square-foot facility, which is expected to be complete by the first quarter of 2017. A floor plan also shows that UTRGV will add four classrooms and incubator space as well as a collaborative share space. Specific use also entails UTRGV College of Business and Entrepreneurship plans to expand its existing Center for Innovation and Commercialization at the property.
“Once renovated, the facility will be a modern innovation center for post-secondary education and training, business incubation and locally-based research,” the release read. “It will also provide space for lectures, workshops and events.
COBE Dean Mark Kroll said CIC will “strengthen the economic development and entrepreneurial ecosystem by supporting businesses that have the potential to create new, higher-paying jobs and grow the economic base of the Rio Grande Valley.”
Bolstering programs as well as services via a business and technology incubator was identified as one of CIC’s current aims.
“The CIC and proposed business and technology incubator will serve as the hub of entrepreneurism and economic development in the Rio Grande Valley,” the release further read. “This knowledge hub that promotes innovation will help transform the region with the emergence of new programs that will involve academia, entrepreneurs, investors and industry. By providing high quality support and service to economically-disadvantaged individuals and business firms with limited resources, the CIC and incubator will help guide the entrepreneurial process by supporting the creation of sustainable businesses to support economic development and the overall prosperity of the Rio Grande Valley.”
In addition to the classroom space, student services at the facility will provide a centralized location for Mid-Valley students to attend, register and pay for classes.
EDC Executive Director Joey Treviño said the partnership has been months in the making.
“After many months of planning and collaboration with the UTRGV School of Business, the Weslaco EDC is proud and excited to announce that we are creating a new environment for the next generation entrepreneur in the Rio Grande Valley,” Treviño said, further noting that the MOU is not a binding obligation but “a structure for a working relationship. “We are committed to helping develop this entrepreneurial ecosystem which will transform not only the Mid-Valley but all of South Texas. … This is a great way to cultivate, grow and foster an entrepreneurial culture and community.”
Expressing enthusiasm over the UTRGV partnership included Martha Noell, president and CEO for the Weslaco Area Chamber of Commerce, Commissioner Fidel Pena, EDC President Richard Talbert and Vice President Joe D. Olivarez.
The Economic Development Corporation of Weslaco (EDC) is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the creation of jobs through recruitment of new industry and helping existing companies relocate and/or expand. Our objective is job creation and adding wealth to the city of Weslaco. The Economic Development Corporation of Weslaco serves as a catalyst in increasing economic wealth and growth in Weslaco by fostering a positive business environment; assisting and facilitating investment in business interests in Weslaco; and adding value to Weslaco’s tax base. Centered for Business in the Rio Grande Valley