AudioHodgson: We have to do a better job promoting the work we do at the Port of Brownsville

The Port of Brownsville is the recycling capital of the United States for old ships. Very few Brownsville students appear to know it.

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – On Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation (GBIC) hosted their second annual Rally in the Valley Conference.

The networking event, held at the Brownsville Events Center, connected high school students from Brownsville ISD with prominent industry partners offering student internship opportunities. 

The Texas Workforce Commission participated, including Aaron Demerson, the commissioner representing employers on the TWC board.

Brownsville Mayor and GBIC Chairman of the Board John Cowen, Jr., said the dynamic networking event aimed to connect local high school students with prominent industry partners offering student internship opportunities. He said students attending will gain invaluable insights into potential career paths, engage with industry experts, and could even secure an internship with one of Brownsville’s leading employers.

“With the annual Rally in the Valley 2.0, GBIC emphasizes the importance of interactions between local students and industry leaders,” Cowen said. “Such engagements not only enlighten students about internship opportunities, but they also help them recognize and articulate their professional interests.”

Bret Gardella, CEO and executive director of GBIC, was just as enthusiastic about the event.

Mark Hodgson

“This event, encapsulates our commitment to fostering the future of Brownsville,” said Bret Gardella, CEO and Executive Director of the GBIC. “We recognize the unmatched potential of Brownsville students. These young individuals are not just the future of our community, but also the key drivers of innovation and growth for the entire region.”

One of the panelists was Mark Hodgson, regional general manager for SA Recycling. His company operates out of the Port of Brownsville, recycling old ships.

When the students in the room were asked if they knew that the Port of Brownsville was the recycling capital of the United States for the disposal of ships, only a few hands went up. This startled Hodgson.

“So, a challenge has been brought to me by sitting on the panel today. We have to do better as an industry in our community of creating awareness to the workforce of the future. The fact that we had seven hands raised that knew that we were the recycling capital of the United States for the ship disposal program was eye opening to me,” Hodgson said.

“And I think not only in that aspect, but all the different trades within our operation and the operations in the port in this region, I think we need to do a lot better job as industry highlighting the opportunities, the high paying jobs, the education that we have here, in order to bolster our workforce of the future, to keep our workforce here and let them know and understand that there are great job opportunities with job growth opportunities within it.”

The panel discussion was titled: Bridging the Workforce Gap Between Industry and Education.

Editor’s Note: Here is an audio recording of everything Hodgson said during the panel discussion. GBIC’s Gardella was the panel moderator.

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