A Shared Vision 

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The Mission Economic Development Corporation is using its headquarters to bring institutions of higher learning to the City of Mission, and together, they are developing a more robust, skilled, and adaptable workforce.

“We’re proud to announce we now have five different colleges and universities located inside our Center for Education and Economic Development,” Mission EDC CEO Teclo J. Garcia said about the organization’s 55,000-square-foot business incubator and collaboration space. “Soon we’ll welcome South Texas College’s first ever apprenticeships center to our building.”

The strategic partnerships with STC, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Valley Grande Institute, Texas Woman’s University, Wayland Baptist University, and CAL Regional are designed to bridge the gap between government, education, and industry needs.

“Education and skills development are critical for job creation and successful entrepreneurship,” said Garcia. “It’s important that the Mission EDC works collaboratively with our higher education partners to create an environment for learning and opportunity. Education is the great equalizer, and we’re fortunate to have an innovative space like the CEED building to help with these efforts.”

Built eight years ago from the skeleton of an abandoned K-Mart store, the CEED now serves as a dynamic coworking space where small ideas can turn into successful small businesses.

The facility, located at 801 N. Bryan Road in Mission, houses 25 tenants featuring a mix of nonprofits and small businesses, a coffee shop, and a microbrewery. The collaboration space also features an array of classrooms, lecture halls, and other meeting spaces to foster entrepreneurship and economic development.

“Through our collective expertise, we’ll be producing a variety of qualified health care providers, STEM-driven professionals and entrepreneurs that will be equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to thrive in a rapidly evolving professional environment,” Garcia said. “These institutions are doing some amazing things and we’re happy to partner with them.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Mission has rebounded quickly, with about 1,000 new jobs added per year, including private and public sector employment. Meanwhile, unemployment has been cut in half from 10.5% in 2021 to 5.1% in 2023.

What’s more, Mission’s education attainment rate has improved. About 32% of residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, and another 5.3% possess an associate’s degree. However, there’s room for improvement as those numbers are below state averages.

Garcia highlighted the innovative health care apprenticeship programs STC and VGI recently announced in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor, Texas Workforce Commission, and three Rio Grande Valley hospitals.

“Students are now going to be able to earn as they learn because of these initiatives,” VGI CEO Anabell Cardona said. “It’s not only going to benefit the City of Mission. This is going to have a big impact throughout the entire region for years to come.”

Wayland Baptist University and CAL Regional moved into the CEED Building in May, and they already taught and graduated their first cohort of phlebotomists.

“They learned all of those skills in our building,” Garcia said. “That’s on top of the other work that our other tenants are doing, such as Elite Medical Training Solutions, a small business that trains EMTs and first responders.”

Other educational institutions at the CEED Building include Teach For America, IDEA Public Schools, College 1st, RGV Focus, and IBEE Tutorias.

“Even our microbrewery participated in an apprenticeship program with STC to offer an education in fermentation,” Garcia said. “No one was doing that, and that’s what we want — to work creatively across the aisle to develop more opportunities for our workforce and encourage entrepreneurship.

“The great thing is, UTRGV’s Small Business Development Center, which is also located inside the CEED Building, is ready to step in and guide the next generation of small business owners.”

Naxiely Lopez-Puente