BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Asked about the quality of the three-day 2023 Valley Legislative Tour, Texas Association of Business President Glenn Hamer said he was not so much impressed as “blown away.”
In an exclusive interview with The Rio Grande Guardian International News Service, Hamer describes the Rio Grande Valley as “alive.” And he applauded the vision of the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation (BCIC) and UTRGV’s Department of Entrepreneurship & Commercialization in creating new alliances in Mexico.
After some of these presentations, Hamer could be seen in excited conversation about the future of the valley with Brownsville City Manager Helen Ramirez, Brownsville City Commissioner Nurith Galonsky Pizana, BCIC Director of Business Development Nathan Burkhart and UTRGV Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Commercialization Director Linda become Ufland Romo.
Hamer was interviewed at the well-known BCIC/UTRGV eBridge Center for Business and Commercialization on the last evening of the tour organized by the RGV partnership.
“The RGV region is vitally important to the success of the entire Texas economy. And what’s really very interesting about this (eBridge) center here, which is focused on entrepreneurship, is the proximity to Mexico and the relationships that have already been established with our friends south of the border,” said Hamer. “It could make this the entrance for entrepreneurship from Mexico in Texas and the United States.”
It was pointed out to Hamer that UTRGV and BCIC have signed several memorandum of understanding agreements with higher education institutions in Mexico, especially aa around Monterrey.
“This will benefit the entire region because the stronger our friend, neighbor and ally Mexico is, the stronger the RGV region and the entire state of Texas will be. And this focus on entrepreneurship, specifically with respect to the RGV -region, even going south of the border, will be a big boost for the economy of this region.
Hamer said the partnerships are “particularly exciting” because new sectors of the economy are emerging.
“Like all the things around SpaceX and all the activity around the Port of Brownsville, which I believe alone is a $3 billion contribution to the state economy. Plus, everything that’s going on in health care. So, I just applaud the RGV Partnership to put together this visit of legislators and politicians from across the state of Texas to gain a better understanding of the vibrancy of this region.
Asked if he was impressed by what he saw on the visit, Hamer said, “I was blown away. It’s very impressive what’s going on here at UTRGV. It’s also very impressive what’s going on at the community college ( TSC) right next to it.As I said, 93% of Career Technical Education Certificates come from our Community College System.
Hamer said, “So, the bottom line for us as an advocacy group, in the Texas Association of Business, is that we’re getting additional facts that are very helpful to us in carrying out our mission to keep Texas at the top as the most competitive place. in the country to do business.”
Hamer also gave a shoutout to Ken Salazar, the US ambassador to Mexico. Salazar was not on the RGVP trip.
“The US Ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar, has made it a goal to increase the number of Mexican students studying in higher education institutions in the United States by a factor of ten. Currently, there are only 15,000 Mexican students who attend American colleges and universities. That compares to 330,000 students from China. Ambassador Salazar wants to increase it by a factor of ten over a period of years to make the United States more competitive when it comes to all the things that we want to do in terms of no-shoring and having control over our supply chain. And so what’s going on here at RGV is very, very important to that goal.”
Like the eBridge Center builds partnerships in Mexico and Latin America
Those eBridge Center for Business & Commercialization seeks to be the “entrepreneurial bridge” for startups and legacy businesses to scale and commercialize their product or service on a massive scale.
The center, which will officially open soon, was developed through a partnership between the UTRGV Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Center and the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation, the City of Brownsville, the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce, the Lower Rio Grande Valley Economic Development Council. the US Economic Development Administration, the US Small Business Administration, and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
Shortly before the interview with Hamer, the Guardian spoke with Burkhart and Ufland Romo. Both participated in a Q&A as part of the RGV Partnership Tour. However, they were unfortunately not much about the eBridge Center connections with Latin America in general and Mexico in particular. The Guardian try to put that right through the interview.
“We have several MOUs in progress with the municipal government of Nuevo León. Linda and her team are also working with Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León. BCIC is also working on an MOU with the city of Escobedo, which is kind of the manufacturing hub in Monterrey . We talk a lot about Monterrey, but we are also working on an MOU with Guadalajara and hopefully we will also have one with Mexico City before the end of the year,” Burkhart said.
“No pun intended but we want to create bridges for our own entrepreneurs to expand into these markets and also promote the soft landing that we have with the designation to the university so that these visitors can enter the US market through Brownsville, through ebridge.”
Soft landing facilities such as the eBridge Center can play a big role in helping Mexican entrepreneurs make it in the United States, Burkhart explained.
“The US is the Holy Grail of market penetration. If you penetrate the market, even get one percent of the market, you can go really far. So the ability to enter the US market is difficult, it’s difficult if you try to open in New York or LA, or two cities like Denver, Austin, San Antonio, which are equally difficult, with the cost of living,” said Burkhart.
“Brownsville and our partnership here with the university and within eBridge, we can offer the exact same resources and incentives and programs, lower cost of living, better quality of life, or just as good if you want. And our workforce is comparable to many of these cities.
Burkhart said Brownsville offers the “perfect mix” to attract budding entrepreneurs.
“We have beaches, we have bike paths, we have SpaceX, so it’s time to shine from the valley and the companies in Mexico are looking at that. And with the soft landing designation that we have here, it’s the perfect recipe or calculation if you want to enter.
Asked if there is interest in Mexico for the services eBridge Center to offer, Burkhart replied, “We’ve already moved nine soft landings from Mexico here. There’s a lot of publicity going through and what I love about what we’re doing here in Brownsville is this pipeline of businesses coming in eBridge at first, with BCIC and UTRGV helping them, and then kind of exiting the pipeline, but then GBIC came in and worked with UTRGV again to help them.
Burkhart added: “The university is the glue; the two EDCs working together, there is some excitement. I can’t say what yet, but in about two weeks there will be a big announcement with Launch BTX at the university as well.”
Ufland Romo was also asked to explain the collaboration that her department is doing in Mexico.
“Well, the collaborations are now forming with Mexico… it’s not just about bringing opportunities to the Valley by bringing businesses and entrepreneurs who want to land their businesses in the United States. We’re trying to show them the importance of to present this region to the rest of the country,” Ufland Romo said.
“We have great assets, we have a port, we have a border, we have international lines, but we also have the education factor and we have the entrepreneurial spirit here. We support emerging industries so this collaboration with Mexico, Central America and South America is really focused are to attract foreign direct investment to the region, as they are also great job creators.
Ufland Romo added, “For the job creation, the scalability of the businesses, bringing these types of companies here to the United States, to the Rio Grande Valley, is extremely important to the economy. As well as the ‘Promoting export opportunities for our local entrepreneurs to take the chance with this collaboration, formed the international bridges. So we build international bridges not only entrepreneurial bridges.
Editor’s Note: The above news is one in a series about the recent Rio Grande Valley Partnership 2023 Valley Legislative Tour.
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