MCALLEN, RGV – South Texas College will host its 4th annual Bi-National Innovation Conference 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Technology Campus Atrium Building B 3700 W. Military Highway.

The Bi-National Innovation Conference, or Inno’ as it is known, serves as a community outreach for business and academia.

Mario Reyna
Mario Reyna

The event will feature approximately 18 speakers focusing on entrepreneurship. The speakers include Jesus Canas, a business economist from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Joaquin Spamer, president of Consejo Binacional para el Fomento Economico de Reynosa (COBIFER) and Carlos Marin, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Ambiotec Engineering Group.

Local speakers include Keith Patridge, president and CEO of McAllen Economic Development Corporation (EDC), Sergio Contreras, executive director of Pharr EDC, Leticia Reyes, director of business development and public affairs for Edinburg EDC, Frank Almaraz, CEO of Workforce Solutions, Steve Ahlenius, president and CEO of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, and Ron Garza, executive director of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council (LRGVDC).

Mario Reyna, dean of business and technology at South Texas College (STC), said Inno is open to anyone that has an interesting in the future development of the Rio Grande Valley. One of the speakers, Ahlenius will cover the additions made to the business plan competition the city hosts every year.

“I think it’s no mystery that our employment here is doing extremely well,” Reyna said. “We’re below a five percent [unemployment rate]–we’re almost at the national levels. So all the things that everybody’s doing is helping our community continue to prosper and I think that’s good for us because that’s what we all want. We want a better quality of life.”

STC is partnering up with Instituto Internacional de Estudios Superiores (IIES) in Reynosa. IIES will host a related event Oct. 6 tailored for the students and participation from the business community.

Reyna said STC’s partnership with IIES could possibly lead to offering workforce education courses in Reynosa to support the maquila industry, or a factory that imports materials on a duty and tariff-free basis.

“Reynosa is growing and it’s going to continue to grow and I think these discussions are about that too,” Reyna said. “What happens in Reynosa impacts us and what happens here impacts Reynosa, so we’re trying to get the community involved to see how we all prosper together.”

During some of McAllen EDC’s board meetings, leaders from the maquila industries spoke up about the shortage of workers. There have been discussion about STC and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley possibly training workers for the industries.

“This issue of the border is not going to go away,” Reyna said. “It is extremely important for all of us. We have the most strategic point in our country to integrate what is happening between our two nations. This is going to be a focal point. There is no one closer to Mexico than we are. And the population density in Mexico is through our area so any activity, any economic activity will have to go through here because we’re the closest point.”

Over the years, STC received a lot of coverage for the event. There are speakers that are well-known within the community and the state that will speak at Inno. Reyna said in the future, the event might become a state-wide event that will attract even more prominent individuals to participate in the discussions.

Editor’s Note: Click here to see the full agenda for Inno’ 2016.