BROWNSVILLE, RGV – The Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation today holds an industry-led forum titled We Grow Our Own.

This is the third in the series and the group has already won a statewide award for the program.

GBIC wants Brownsville area students to develop the skill sets necessary to secure the high tech jobs of today and tomorrow. Indeed, workforce development is one of the group’s top agenda items.

Mario Lozoya

In an exclusive interview, Mario Lozoya, executive director of GBIC, explained how the We Grow Our Own program has been developing.

“At our first meeting we invited people from the Brownsville community, students, parents, school administrators, business partners, nonprofits. We asked what challenges they had in the area of workforce development, and what should we target,” Lozoya said.

“We had high school students ask questions of those in attendance. We gathered all that data, with help from RGV Lead and we came up with the top ten challenges.”

At the second forum students ran through the top ten impediments to Brownsville developing a highly skilled workforce. Those at the event then came up with their top three issues.

“The student ambassador reported on the top three issues. They are: the digital divide, skills gap, and awareness. Interestingly, the students said, we do not even know what is available, we do not know what classes to take so we can be in alignment for what jobs are out there,” Lozoya said.

“So, we are now we are in the implementation phase; how can we move the needle on those three items.”

Lozoya said today’s forum will be mostly focused on the industry sector.

“We are going to ask the industry sector things like, what are your workforce challenges, how can we work together to create opportunities to create the awareness of students in our own backyard so we can Grow Our Own, so we can provide you with this workforce pipeline that you so badly need.”

Texas Workforce Commission staff will be on hand to explain what grant opportunities are available.

“We will ask the Industry panel, what are you challenges, give us some examples. We will ask the chool district and community college, what programs have you put together so we can answer the call, so they can be part of the solution.”

Lozoya said he is pleased with the results so far.

“We are creating programs, we are bringing the community together. Together we can target the digital divide, the skills gap and awareness.”

Editor’s Note: The above commentary by Mario Lozoya was obtained from an in-depth interview the Rio Grande Guardian secured with the GBIC leader. The full interview includes news about the donation of robotics equipment by Toyota to GBIC. The equipment will be available for Brownsville ISD and Texas Southmost College students to use and learn from. The interview also includes discussion on the skills gap and the digital divide. The interview is being turned into a podcast by Rio Grande Guardian presenter Mario Muñoz. It will be posted in our next edition.