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A Close Look at UTRGV’s Department of Government and Community Relations with Veronica Gonzales

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Veronica Gonzales Leads UTRGV's Charge in Government and Community Relations, Unveiling a Multitude of Resources for Entrepreneurial Development and Economic Advancement in McAllen, Texas. Photos by Roberto Hugo González
Veronica Gonzales Leads UTRGV’s Charge in Government and Community Relations, Unveiling a Multitude of Resources for Entrepreneurial Development and Economic Advancement in McAllen, Texas. Photos by Roberto Hugo González

Texas Border Business

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By Roberto Hugo González

In an exclusive interview with Texas Border Business, we had the privilege to dig into the significant role played by the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) in community and economic development through the insights of Veronica Gonzales, the Senior Vice President for Government and Community Relations. Gonzales is at the wheel of six productive departments, managing a resourceful team alongside Ron Garza, Associate Vice President of Workforce and Economic Development.

Ron Garza

Each of the six departments under Gonzales’ supervision has a distinctive mission, yet they work in partnership to support and nurture both individual ambitions and community development. From offering specialized training and consultative services to fostering entrepreneurship and supporting veteran-owned businesses, these departments are the backbone of the region’s growth.

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Apex Accelerator Center: This center is instrumental in offering training, technical assistance, and consultation for businesses striving to secure government contracts at various levels. It acts as a catalyst for local businesses, enabling them to expand their horizons.

Data & Information Systems Center: Specializing in generating comprehensive economic and community development data, this center produces vital research, analysis, maps, and impact reports, catering to both public and private sector clients.

Entrepreneurship & Commercialization Center: A haven for start-ups and emerging entrepreneurs, the center provides incubation programs, professional workspace, and specialized services, fostering a vibrant ecosystem for commercialization and economic development.

Professional Education & Workforce Development Center: Dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and expertise, this center offers a wide array of professional education programs, industry certificates, and workforce development training to individuals and organizations.

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Small Business Development Center: A cornerstone for local business owners, the center offers personalized advising and a variety of training seminars on specialized business topics, empowering them to either kick-start or expand their ventures.

Veterans Business Outreach Center: Tailored to support service members, veterans, and military spouses, the center provides entrepreneurial development services and training programs, acknowledging, and harnessing the unique skills and experiences of the military community.

The Division of Government and Community Relations is not just an internal entity; it extends its reach by working collaboratively with a many external partners across the region. From liaising with local, state, and federal elected officials to engaging with nonprofits through the community engagement office, the division is a nexus of connectivity. Furthermore, it establishes fruitful relationships with small and large businesses, Economic Development Corporations (EDCs), and Chambers, primarily through the Office of Workforce and Economic Development.

UTRGV’s commitment to fostering community growth and entrepreneurship isn’t a recent endeavor. The university has been a pillar of support for the community for several decades, with entities like the Small Business Development Center having a substantial history of over 20 to 30 years. The various departments have closely collaborated with Chambers and other institutions, providing seminars, training, advising, and more. While many in the community are familiar with these invaluable resources, Gonzales emphasizes that there’s a growing entrepreneurial spirit among people who may be unaware of the multitude of services available to them, most of which are free or highly affordable.

UTRGV, through its diverse departments and the dedicated leadership of Veronica Gonzales and Ron Garza, show the power of education and community partnership. The institution stands as an unsung hero, its contributions a “best-kept secret” as Gonzalez pointed out during the conversation that deserves recognition and utilization by every aspiring individual and growing business in the region. The collaborative efforts of the departments are not just shaping the present but are laying down a solid foundation for a prosperous future for the Texas border community and beyond.

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