UT-Rio Grande Valley now has a presence within the offices of San Benito Economic Development Corporation. The aim is provide help to local entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Ron Garza, associate vice president for workforce and economic development at UTRGV, was among the VIPS to attend the official announcement. 

“Small businesses are so important to every community,” Garza said “People don’t realize it sometimes but behind every local small business is a family. Those families are from here. So they truly are the lifeblood of the economy here. So, we have to do what we can (to help).”

Another reality of small businesses, Garza said, is that there’s a lot of capacity. 

“There’s a lot of room to grow, but they (small businesses) are busy, they don’t know where to go… they don’t know where to seek the help. Sometimes they just don’t have the time for it.”

Garza then explained what UTRGV will be doing in San Benito.

“The initiative that we’re announcing here today is that we are setting up shop here in the EDC, so we have a dedicated space. There’s going to be a sign that we unveil that we’re very, very proud of. But, most importantly, San Benito now will have a front door to UTRGV or the other way around.”

Garza then reiterated the challenges small businesses face.

“Finding services sometimes is the most challenging thing. Where do I go? Who do I call? Well, we just wanted to make it more accessible. Period. So you’ll follow the orange and you’ll come in the door and you know, we may not be here every day, but it’s a conduit for our services that’s going to help amplify what we do.”

Garza said UTRGV has so much to offer the South Texas region.

“There’s so much power and resources that UTRGV brings us to this community, to the entire Valley. And as we all all go about our business and everyday life, I don’t think we realize truly what UTRGV does, the economic engine that it is to the region here. So I’m glad to be part of it. It’s very exciting.”

He explained that he oversees the university’s Office of Workforce and Economic Development. 

“I won’t spend today going into much detail on all the programs, but I will say is a litany, it’s a very comprehensive portfolio of programs. There’s a tremendous amount of expertise that is harnessed through this office,” Garza said. “There is a tremendous team here that have a lot of expertise geared at maximizing what small businesses can do.”

Most of the services the Office of Workforce and Economic Development offers is low cost or no cost. Some are fee for service but these are mostly very intensive services.

“We’re going to be growing this program. You’ll see us more, but more importantly, again, it’s a conduit for our services. So we’re going to encourage all of you that are here today to please help us. Be ambassadors of these programs. And tell all small businesses in the region here, especially in San Benito, if you’re a veteran or a small business, if you have an idea…  there are resources out there to further your sales and make you more money, period. So we really need your help to kind of amplify that message for us.”

Julian Rios is president of San Benito EDC. At the event, Rios announced a new scholarship program.

“On behalf of the board of directors, I want to thank UTRGV for partnering with the EDC and bringing the Office of Workforce and Economic Development to San Benito,” Rios said.

“We’re honored that UTRGV believes in San Benito so much that they have partnered with us… (and) since UTRGV is investing so much in the entrepreneurial and small business community with projects like the Kaufman program, the San Benito EDC board of directors is proud to announce that we have decided to provide ten scholarships to residents that want to start a business or already own a business.”

Rios received warm applause for this announcement.

“Not only are we partnering with UTRGV, we’re ready to work. That’s what we’re here for,” Rios added. 

“We do understand that economic development isn’t only brick and mortar big box stores and attracting businesses with taxpayer dollars. It is also educating the workforce and building up entrepreneurs and small businesses. So thank you, UTRGV, for being here.”

Other speakers included San Benito EDC CEO Ramiro Aleman, San Benito Mayor Rick Guerra, and UTRGV Senior Vice President Veronica Gonzales.

Here is a video recording on the announcement:


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