Emerging Entrepreneurs


In Texas, small businesses drive the state’s dynamic economy. In total, self-employed entrepreneurs and small business employers create an annual economic impact in Texas of over $1 trillion. In fact, Texas is the No. 1 jobs creator in the nation, adding 288,900 positions in 2018.

Texas is home to 2.7 million small businesses that support about 4.7 million small business employees.

Thanks to the Texas Legislature, our great State of Texas continues to be a destination point for business startups, expansion, and retention. This also places Texas as the top state for women-owned businesses that generated $134 million through the 938,000 companies in 2018.

To ensure that our region continues to thrive, the RGV Partnership Foundation, RGV LEAD, and UTRGV collaborated to launch the inaugural BBVA Young Entrepreneurs of the RGV Challenge at the UTRGV Center for Innovation and Commercialization in Weslaco. The Young Entrepreneurs of the RGV Challenge is a competition created to develop young entrepreneurs throughout the Rio Grande Valley.

A team of dedicated Rio Grande Valley community leaders designed the competition, which included business mentors and judges. Dr. Norma L. Salaiz with RGV Lead directed the entrepreneurship challenge, which required a two-minute pitch video and a business plan.

The program called for students that were in the ninth through 12th grade and enrolled in Career and Technology Education (CTE) programs of study. Students were challenged to generate business ideas that were aligned with the teams’ CTE training programs. Mentoring was provided by successful RGV entrepreneurs and college instructors. The entrepreneur challenge program was designed to ignite leadership, teamwork, communication skills, critical thinking, and soft skills necessary for success.

Forty-eight teams from across the Rio Grande Valley submitted their applications with 21 teams making it to the final competition. Each judge evaluated the written business plan and an oral presentation that required a description of the business, their objectives, the management structure, and a presentation of their market and financial analysis.

The winning teams received seed funding from the Rio Grande Valley Partnership Foundation, which was supported by BBVA as the 2019 Inaugural Corporate Partner.

The top three teams to win were:

  • First place – Sharyland High School, Sharyland IS
  • Second place – Sharyland High School, Sharyland ISD
  • Third place – Vanguard Academy, Rembrandt Secondary

Thanks to the CTE directors, their supporting school districts, educators, and participating students, the program was a success.

Thank you to our partners and mentors: Atanacio (Tachi) Hinojosa, Magic Valley Electric Cooperative; Naomi Perales, Texas Gas Service; Danny Gurwitz, Atlas, Hall & Rodriguez, L.L.P.; Arlene Garza, Gulf-Aviation; Anabell Cardona, Valley Grande Institute; Ramiro Garza, Jr., NTB Development; Rene Capistran, Noble Texas Builders; Jerry Sanchez, Image House Media; Larry Gonzalez, Plains Capital Bank, Robert Rosell, BBVA; Sergio Contreras, RGV Partnership Foundation; and Dr. Norma L. Salaiz, RGV LEAD.