For five years, I’ve been blessed to work with entrepreneurs, elected officials, and investors to plan the growth and promote the uniqueness of South Texas. What unites us is the idea that the Valley is booming and poised for even bigger things.
Yet while our future is promising, it is not guaranteed. To continue to grow, we will have to face the real challenges holding us back like rising costs for families and businesses, devastating flooding and heat waves caused by increasingly extreme weather, and major infrastructure needs for neglected neighborhoods and our growing trade corridors.
Our products can’t go to market if they’re stuck in traffic, on a slow inspection line crossing the bridge, or in a flooded street. We can’t draw international and interstate investment if factory managers and business owners are constantly checking weather reports to see if our electrical grid will hold up and paying high electricity prices at the same time. And workers and families can’t invest in their future if they are burdened by anxiety and bringing home less money because of high healthcare costs.
It’s going to take smart policy and a commitment to long-term action to achieve our full potential as a community. That’s why it’s exciting to see that our congressional delegation has successfully worked with the Biden Administration to pass pro-growth policies to draw down the hard dollar investments we need for success while tamping down rising costs.
The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 will deliver exactly what South Texas needs: new investment in a clean and advanced energy economy, healthier communities with lower costs for prescription medications, and significant progress on climate change which threatens our lives, livelihoods, and coastal tourism industry. The Inflation Reduction Act’s $369 billion in clean energy investments makes it the most ambitious piece of climate legislation in U.S. history. And importantly, it’s also an ambitious jobs bill. It’s going to mean job creation in wind turbine, solar panel, and electric vehicle production – all industries where South Texas is poised to lead.
Coupled with the Bipartisan Infrastructure law, which will bring tens of millions in infrastructure improvements, our small businesses and local economy will be ready for a robust and sustainable job boom. We’re about to get tremendous resources for projects that will repair and build out our roads and bridges, improve our homes and neighborhoods, and invest in our clean energy sector. That means construction jobs, energy and engineering jobs, and jobs along the entire supply chain. Texas produces more wind energy than any other state in the country – and Willacy County is already the #1 wind energy-producing county in Texas. Texas leads the world in energy, and the Valley can continue to lead the way in Texas.
The federal government has begun announcing programs that Congressmen Vicente Gonzalez and Henry Cuellar are helping secure, and we will see many more in the near future. Everything from support for the electrical grid to flood mitigation and EV charging networks to EV school buses. All of this means jobs, more products moving through our trade corridors, and more interest in the strong business relationships we have established across South Texas and Mexico.
I’ve said it before, decades ago, the Rio Grande Valley was a rural, agriculture-based economy, and today, we have grown into a major international trade hub with commercial, retail, industrial, medical, retirement, and higher education institutions. We can secure a new era of economic growth, and with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, we will have the backing and investment to do it.
Working with the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation we have developed our eBridge Center, an upcoming collaborative startup incubator and entrepreneurial resource center that supports innovators and business owners to get their projects going for times exactly like these. After historic action by Congressman Gonzalez, former Congressman Vela, and the Biden Administration, we’re finally getting the investment we need to get us on the ramp to greatness.
Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by Nathan Burkhart, director of Small Business Development at the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation (BCIC), the Type B Economic Development Organization for the City of Brownsville. A Brownsville native, Burkhart strategically develops programs and incentives for startup growth and development in Brownsville with the end goal of creating a sustainable ecosystem of entrepreneurship in the Rio Grande Valley. The above guest column appears in the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service with the permission of the author. Burkhart can be reached by email via: [email protected].
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