Ulalio Chavez, Jr. is a senior at Weslaco East High School and dully enrolled in STC’s welding program. While he now has established a skill and comfort level around heavy tools and welding equipment, he’s also getting paid for valuable exposure to tooling, machining and operator safety responsibilities with a new company in Weslaco, Rio Precision Machine & Welding.
Owners Denis and Jackie Knobloch opened Rio Precision Machine & Welding in June of 2018 and along with the EDC’s incentive to start their business in Weslaco, the Knobloch’s were required to hire an intern for a minimum of 500 hours per year.
It is part of the EDC of Weslaco’s incentive package, to consider first Weslaco’s return on investment or “ROI,” and engage the incentive recipient in creating a paid internship position as an obligation within the incentive they receive.
“It’s important to establish an energy and excitement about our growing industries,” says Marie McDermott, Executive Director for the EDC of Weslaco. McDermott goes on to say that, “Students attending high school in Weslaco or college, need to see that they have a future here in their home town, with job opportunities that will allow them to raise their families and contribute to Weslaco’s growing economy.”
One of Weslaco’s newest incentivized companies, Kapal Cabinet House, LLC, also hired an intern as a commitment to earning a Weslaco EDC incentive. Rodrick Anzaldua, in his last year at UTRGV, and has learned to understand the intricacies of running a company that depends on international trade.
Some of the materials for the cabinet and counter top company are imported from both Italy and Brazil, so Anzaldua has had to pay particular attention to tariffs and related border issues.
“I’ve always thought it was important to be informed of current events around me” says Anzaldua, “and now that I see how the President’s decisions on tariffs can affect the company I work for and possibly my own paycheck, I am even more grateful that this internship has opened my eyes more clearly.”
The firm of Trinity Engineering, LC is one of the Weslaco EDC’s most recent incentive recipient. Expanding plans for the company include a new office building to accommodate the company’s need for more skilled engineers and intern Chris Villarreal has been included in the company’s growth plans.
“Our intern is not filing, answering phone calls or light duty office work, he is actually involved in creating software that makes our company run far more efficient and organized,” says owner Leo Muñoz. “And I get a chance to train someone the way I want them to work with no baggage from any other job.”
Villarreal is also in the Army National Guard Reserves and a senior at UTRGV. The internship with Trinity makes him feel like he will have a much better chance at filling a full time position with the growing company.
Villarreal was unavailable for a photo opportunity because of his summer training with the National Guard.
As the EDC continues to facilitate growth and stimulate the economy in Weslaco, it will continue to encourage and sustain the inclusion of internships into every future incentive package. “The development of our workforce is just as important as recruiting new businesses to Weslaco,” says EDC Board Secretary Cynthia Cabaza. “Internships play a key role” says Cabaza, “in cultivating hands-on, industry savvy employees that would not have otherwise been developed.”
Since McDermott started with the EDC of Weslaco, she has sought ways to make connections between the companies the EDC is attracting and young student’s exposure to the working world. “Internships will continue to play a vital role in Weslaco’s growth and economic success,” says McDermott and we look forward to allowing companies in Weslaco the privilege of molding and shaping our youth.”
For more information on the internship program through the EDC of Weslaco, contact the EDC staff at 956-969-0838, or visit the EDC website at http://www.weslacoedc.com.