PHARR, Texas – Small businesses that move into Pharr could receive a $5,000 grant while existing businesses could secure a $10,000 grant, thanks to a new program being launched by Pharr Economic Development Corporation.

In an exclusive interview with the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service, Karina Lopez, Pharr EDC’s economic development manager, said there is no industry restriction.

“This new program will provide a great opportunity for those individuals that haven’t expanded their business because of lack of funding,” Lopez explained.

“And so the way this program will work is that it won’t be considered a reimbursable grants. We are offering new businesses an opportunity to qualify up to $5,000 and existing businesses up to $10,000. The grants will allow for projects and for working capital, businesses looking for storefront improvements, equipment purchase, and maybe small repairs that they’ve held off on because of the lack of funding. Those could also be qualifiable. And any operational needs that they may have for their business.”

Lopez continued: “We’re not being specific on which industry a company comes from. We just want to help the small business community in general because we know that they are the backbone of our community. For, while we see a lot of bigger companies come develop and relocate into our area, we want to make sure that these small businesses know that we’re here to support them as well.”

Lopez said that in addition to the new program, Pharr EDC will soon be announcing additional support for small businesses in partnership with LiftFund.

“We’ll be making an official announcement on that hopefully here within the next two weeks as well.”

LiftFund is a nonprofit that supports thousands of small businesses through micro loans, small business loans, and other resources. 

Marlene Rodriguez, marketing director for LiftFund, gave advance notice of the new partnership her organization has entered into with the City of Pharr and Pharr EDC when she attended a Small Business Funding & Resource Workshop for new and existing small businesses looking to establish, improve their business or expand in Pharr. The event was held at Pharr One.

“So LiftFund and the Pharr EDC have joined to offer small business loans to small businesses within the city of Pharr at a 2.5 percent interest rate. So if a small business is wanting to start or grow their business here in the city of Pharr, and they are seeking funding to start that business, LiftFund will be able to review their application and, if approved, they will be able to get a 2.5 interest rate with the City buying down that rate,” Rodriguez told the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service.

“Interest rates have been going up and they continue to rise. So this is a great opportunity for the small business owner to take advantage of that 2.5 percent interest rate.”

Asked why LiftFund was participating in the Small Business Funding & Resource Workshop, Rodriguez said: “We want to make aware of the citizens of Pharr, to the small business owner community that we are here giving out information, sessions in English and Spanish on different topics, with different organizations, to help businesses get the help they need in order to grow their business.”

Rodriguez said many small businesses in the Rio Grande Valley need help but perhaps do not know where to look for that help.

“So, we’re building those relationships not only with the city of McAllen but the city of Pharr and coming soon the city of Edinburg. We’re excited. We’re hoping that maybe other municipalities, other cities will join LiftFund to help them continue supporting the small business community. We’re hoping maybe we can build that relationship throughout the Rio Grande Valley and continue growing, supporting small business. It’s all about supporting.”

Pharr EDC’s Lopez explained why her organization hosted the Small Business Funding & Resource Workshop.

“We are hosting the event because we wanted to officially announce that the Pharr EDC is launching this small business grant program. And so we invited some of our small business owners here in the in the community and in the area. And we also invited entrepreneurs are seeking to establish in the city of Pharr so that they can consider us as another site for their location,” Lopez said.

“We invited some of our partners to join us and so they can also share some of their services and resources that are available to the small business community at no cost.”

Lopez ran through some of the partnerships the EDC has forged. Namely with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the UTRGV Small Business Development Center, Workforce Solutions, LiftFund and the Greater Pharr Chamber of Commerce. 

Asked how small businesses can learn more about the help Pharr EDC has to offer, Lopez said:

“Our website will have information on the new program, the guidelines, the application process. That would be the first point of contact. But, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our office, speak to one of the individuals in our team. We are there to help.

Asked for any wrap-up remarks, Lopez said: “We had a great turnout. Some people will not know this but today was National Mom and Pop Day. That is why we selected this day to host a workshop. This is our way of showing our appreciation to the small business community. To let them know that programs are coming just for them.

Pharr EDC-SBA Strategic Alliance Memorandum

In other news about Pharr EDC, the organization has announced a Strategic Alliance Memorandum with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Angela R. Burton, district director for the SBA’s Lower Rio Grande Valley district office helped facilitate the memorandum.

“The purpose of this SAM is to develop and foster mutual understanding and a working relationship between the SBA and PEDC II in order to strengthen and expand small business development in the local area,” Pharr EDC stated.

Pharr EDC said the two entities are joined by a common mission: helping start, maintain, and expand small businesses. 

“The parties will work together in the spirit of cooperation and open communications, consistent with law, with the primary goal of meeting the needs of the small business community. Partnerships are vital to the continued growth and success of our Pharr community. We’d like to thank Angela Burton, district director and her entire SBA team for their continued support and partnership.”

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