Texas Border Business
RIO GRANDE CITY, TEXAS – Economic development in Starr County received a significant boost Monday with funding for a six-year plan that intends to make the region a viable location for investment and job creation.
On Feb. 4, South Texas College and the Office of U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar announced that STC and the Starr County Industrial Foundation (SCIF) were the recipients of $100,000 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce through the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Technical Assistance Program.
The award will be used to develop a Starr County Strategic Plan focusing on workforce and economic development by the year 2025.STC and SCIF also contributed $25,000 in match funding.
Once complete, the strategic plan will help diversify and boost economic development throughout the Starr County region, according to economic leaders.
“What strategic planning will allow us to do is ensure that the priorities that we are putting in as a county and as a city are working. We need to refine ways to fund projects and make them a reality,” said SCIF President and STC Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees Rose Benavidez. “Projects can be anything from roads, drainage, improving education, and community parks. Our main interest in this particular instance is finding ways to make this a more viable location for investment and as an opportunity to create more jobs.
“I think the most important thing to know is that we have communities now where leaders are working together, and even though each community has its own issues and priorities, everyone understands that sometimes we need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture to ensure that we are investing in a way that will make their future better,” Benavidez said.
In attendance at the check presentation was U.S. Rep. Cuellar, D-Laredo; Jorge Ayala, Regional Director for U.S. Economic Development Administration; Sam Vale, President of the Starr-Camargo Bridge Company; and STC President Dr. Shirley A. Reed. STC Trustees in attendance included Vice Chair Benavidez, Gary Gurwitz, and Dr. Alejo Salinas.
“Having a highly skilled workforce is one of the key components to growing our economy,” Rep. Cuellar said. “This funding will yield lasting economic benefits for businesses and people throughout Starr County by allowing South Texas College to expand upon its Workforce and Economic Development Plan, providing opportunities to educate and train both their students and their workforce. It is one of the best investments we have made for the people of South Texas.”
The grant will support the college and the Starr County Industrial Foundation’s interest in the development of a current Asset Map of Starr County and facilitate a Strategic Planning Conference with key leaders and stakeholders.
“Well let me first of all express appreciation. None of this happens without Congress supporting us, and none of this money flows to us without EDA supporting us,” said Dr. Reed. “It may seem like a modest amount; however it is critical to the future of Starr County. Our goal is to asset map Starr County, list every attribute Starr County has for future development, job growth, bringing industry to the county, and ultimately increasing the income level of all residents in Starr County.”