Texas Border Business
By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
On December 16, 2022, the grand opening of Houstonville Minitropolis took place at Sam Houston Elementary School in McAllen. Minitropolis is the long-time sponsored signature event by IBC Bank McAllen. The celebration of this fabulous and one-of-a-kind project marked its twenty-five years of existence.
The event is so significant for the community and its children that McAllen School Board members, district leaders, guests, and partners attended on this important day. “I am the proud principal of Sam Houston Elementary. I’m excited to have you here as we celebrate 25 years of Houstonville,” said Jessica Lowe, principal of Sam Houston. She continued, “This program aims to instill financial literacy, social and communication skills, and the entrepreneurial spirit in our young scholars.”
Houstonville Minitropolis is a city within Sam Houston Elementary School where the children are part of that city. There is an IBC Bank, a The Home Depot store, a fire station, and even a city hall with a mayor and commissioners. Elementary school children operate all of this as they learn how to be responsible citizens and how a democratic process works. They learn leadership and decision-making skills.
But there is much more because it includes everything a city could have. This exercise allows children to realize and learn how a business and a city operate. They acquire good experience as they learn public relations and help other children posing as clients to open bank accounts exposing them to financial concepts. This opens up a whole new world for these students at a very young age.
During the event, we had the chance to meet the mayor of Houstonville. She addressed the attendees and said, “Good morning, my name is Constanza Dominguez, and I’m the mayor of Houstonville.” She continued, “Welcome to our Minitropolis grand opening. Minitropolis has been a part of Sam Houston Elementary for almost 26 years, only closing for one year because of the pandemic,” she said.
Mayor Dominguez was at the podium explaining that the Minitropolis project helps students build financial literacy, social skills, and career readiness. Her experience being the mayor has taught her to realize leadership skills and responsibility. Once she finished speaking, she introduced the next speaker by welcoming Adrian Villarreal, IBC Bank of McAllen Texas President, and CEO.
When Villarreal got to accept the microphone from Mayor Dominguez, he said, “Great job. Great job, mayor. This is one of my favorite events and projects. I think that everything that we try to do is to improve our community and make the people around us better at what they do.”
He continued, “And when you can have a program like this that impacts so many young students over the last 25 years and to be able to have that sustainability, it is just incredible.”
Villarreal took the opportunity to thank other partners that make Houstonville Minitropolis a success. He welcomed to the program Rene Capistran, CEO of Noble Builders. Now, Houstonville Minitropolis is the home of a new construction company. South Texas Health Systems is also part of Minitropolis.
McAllen ISD Superintendent Dr. J. Gonzalez, said, “I’ve been in this district a long time, and moments like this just make me feel so blessed. When you look at how we’re educating our children today, I have the utmost confidence in our students as we move into the future so that they can continue moving the city in the right direction.”
Villarreal also had the opportunity to recognize and thank Jessica Lowe. “She had reached out to us last year, and I knew when I first met her that this program was in such good hands.” He continued, “Thank you very much for your continuing commitment to the program and the example that you will be and are to other elementary schools,” he finalized.