In a statement made earlier today, City of Weslaco Mayor David Suarez announced that city leaders and UTRGV President Dr. Guy Bailey approved and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the city and UTRGV initiating a partnership that signifies both parties’ commitment to broaden UTRGV’s presence in the Mid-Valley. “This is not just a win for Weslaco but for all of South Texas,” remarked Suarez.
Speaking in reference to the partnership, Dr. Bailey added, “This MOU is a testament to UTRGV’s goal to provide regional opportunities to not only our students and faculty, but to the community as well. The City of Weslaco is now considered a valuable, long-term partner and is a community that believes in the same core values as we do.”
All three organizations recognized the benefits of collaborating together on similar interests that focus on education, innovation, entrepreneurship, economic development and agreed Weslaco was the best location to begin the expansion. Once renovated, the facility will be a modern innovation center for post-secondary education and training, business incubation, and locally-based research. It will also provide space for lectures, workshops and events.
The UTRGV College of Business and Entrepreneurship (COBE) plans to expand the existing Center for Innovation and Commercialization (CIC) and develop a mixed-use incubator while UTRGV intends to add classrooms and student services at property owned by the City of Weslaco located at 275 S. Kansas Avenue. The 16,225 square feet of presently unfinished space will be leased to UTRGV at a predetermined amount over a ten-year period. The City is committing the property, and the EDCW commits to $1.3 million dollars in renovation to the space. The three entities will jointly apply for grants to complete the project.
Established in 2013, the CIC is in the process of bolstering its programs, services and offerings by instituting a business and technology incubator. Administered through the University’s College of Business and Entrepreneurship, the CIC furthers the University’s mission of education, research, and economic development. It will offer UTRGV faculty and students the opportunity to apply classroom learning to the real world experience of entrepreneurship and small business development. The CIC and proposed business and technology incubator will serve as the hub of entrepreneurism and economic development in the Rio Grande Valley.
“The CIC will strengthen the economic development and entrepreneurial ecosystem by supporting businesses that have the potential to create new, higher-paying jobs and grow the economic base of the Rio Grande Valley,” said Mark Kroll, Dean of the College of Business and Entrepreneurship.
This knowledge hub that promotes innovation will help transform the region with the emergence of new programs that will involve academia, entrepreneurs, investors, and industry. By providing high quality support and service to economically disadvantaged individuals and business firms with limited resources, the CIC and incubator will help guide the entrepreneurial process by supporting the creation of sustainable businesses to support economic development, and the overall prosperity of the Rio Grande Valley.
In addition, there are plans to include classroom space and student services to provide a more centralized and convenient location for Mid Valley students to attend, register, and pay for classes. The MOU is expected to create the framework for UTRGV’s footprint in Weslaco and will continue to develop in the coming months. Expected completion date is first quarter 2017.