An artist’s rendition of UTRGV’s Center for Innovation and Commercialization.

WESLACO, RGV – Weslaco City Manager Mike R. Perez says that the most exciting project for the city right now is the construction of the new Center for Innovation and Commercialization (CIC).

The CIC will be a business incubator and entrepreneurial hub managed by UT-Rio Grande Valley College of Business & Entrepreneurship and Weslaco Economic Development Corporation.

Mike R. Perez

City and university officials have expressed their enthusiasm over the project in the past, which they say will stimulate the economic growth of the region and provide increased educational opportunities for students across the Rio Grande Valley.

“We think it’s going to be good for South Texas. We have a lot of smart people who have great ideas who just need some help in putting that project together or helping someone market it, develop a business plan in selling it,” said Perez. “It will be here in Weslaco, but we’re going to have people from all over South Texas.”

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the City of Weslaco, Weslaco EDC and UTRGV was signed in January 2016 for the creation of the CIC. Weslaco EDC received a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration for $1.4 million towards the $3 million project in July of that year. Now, the project is finally moving forward.

Perez says that the city has hired Harlingen architect Meg Foster Jorn of Megamorphosis. He says the plans are in place, and the city will likely begin seeking competitive bids to contract the building’s construction.

The CIC will be located behind the Weslaco Business Visitor and Event Center at 275 S. Kansas Ave.

Other projects in Weslaco will include a new fire and police station and a park on Mile 11 North. Perez says the city plans on spending $40 million over the next five years on these and other city maintenance efforts. Soon, residents can look forward to improved water and sewer lines, widened ditches and seven to eight miles of newly paved roads each year.

To reduce costs, they hope to do as much in-house as possible in addition to applying for government grants and partnering with larger cities.

“Keep in mind, Weslaco is only 40,000. You know, Weslaco is the size of San Juan,” said Perez. “People don’t realize that we’re not a very large community. We just happen be located in an area that we serve that has a population of about 180,000 to 200,000 people.”

Perez made his comments as a panelist at a Society of Marketing Professional Services-Rio Grande Valley luncheon. The event was held at the Weslaco Business & Event Center in Weslaco. Two other city managers spoke with Perez on the panel – Charlie Cabler of Brownsville and Roy Rodriguez of McAllen.