One organization in the Rio Grande Valley has been able to accomplish a lot of change and growth in the past 76 years — and it does it all as a 100 percent nonprofit organization.
In 1944, RGV Partnership was founded to help support the Valley’s irrigators, ranchers, and others in the agricultural business. The purpose for RGV Partnership was initially to ensure that these parties had access to necessary water and transportation that they needed in order to sustain their crops and livestock. Because of its successful impact in the agricultural sector, RGV Partnership later evolved into a regional chamber of commerce in order to also involve regional businesses for the purpose of collaborating efforts to help drive the economy as a whole.
Today, RGV Partnership functions as an organization of advocacy that drives collaboration among the business community and governmental organizations.
“It’s a business-friendly organization that encourages collaboration among our four-county region,” said RGV Partnership Chairman Billy Canales, president of Rio Motors Company. “We drive for the enhancement of our members to improve their return on investment and improve their quality of life in our region.”
RGV Partnership works to spark growth in the areas of Education & Workforce, Transportation & Infrastructure, Investment in Healthcare, Economic Development, and International Trade & Ports of Entry, collectively referred to as the five areas of focus, by facilitating important conversations with those who have impact in these sectors.
“The RGV Partnership is able to sustain itself and have a program of work at the direction of its board members and members who are dedicated to the Rio Grande Valley,” said Sergio Contreras, CEO and president of RGV Partnership.
“We host discussions and luncheons specifically to address the needs and concerns of the Rio Grande Valley,”
One example of how RGV Partnership has made an impact through its advocacy is collaborating with the Ports of Entry in the Rio Grande Valley to obtain additional funding to be able to hire extra Customs & Border Protection personnel, including an entomologist to help screen products coming in to make sure there would be no negative effects on local crops and insect populations.
RGV Partnership has also played a large role in the area of Education & Workforce through working with the universities in the area. “We’ve engaged in supporting the mergers of the university, the School of Medicine. We’re currently supporting Texas A&M as they continue to expand in our region,” Contreras said. “The RGV Partnership through its foundation has provided close to $240,000 in scholarships to benefit Valley students that attend RGV higher
The RGV Partnership continues to work and advocate for the Texas Mobility transportation projects as well as a biennial Legislative Tour that showcases to legislators from outside of the region the unique opportunities found in the Rio Grande Valley.
The RGV Partnership has also shifted gears in order to meet the new challenges brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Our plan is to engage with our members to ensure that we begin to get back to a new normal due to the coronavirus issues that have impacted our economy, which will be ways to identify their efforts to get back on the ground running,” Contreras said. “And then also identifying new procedures, new processes to ensure we’re ready and available for such scenarios.” As soon as the virus arrived in the Valley, RGV Partnership began rolling out essential information to help small businesses in the area mitigate the financial impact that COVID-19 was predicted to have, such as information on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and the availability of Disaster Assistance Loans from the Small Business Association.
Contreras explained that another goal was “to educate our members how the stimulus money that’s coming from the federal government, and state, how will that impact our members.” This includes continuing to collaborate with local authorities and making sure that business-related declarations are directly shared with RGV Partnership’s members. On social media, messages of hope, encouragement, and gratitude go out on a daily basis to help boost morale and remind the community that this situation will improve.
The organization’s slogan of “Regional Collaboration” could not be more clearly evidenced than through its efforts to unite everyone. Throughout the rapid changes that have taken place during this challenging and somewhat chaotic period, RGV Partnership’s message is clear: “We’re in this together.”