This article was originally published in San Antonio Express-News

A San Antonio-based network of early-stage investors is opening an office in Brownsville, seeking to spur business and entrepreneurship on both sides of the border in the Rio Grande Valley.

Alamo Angels, whose members invest in early-stage businesses, announced the expansion and creation of its first satellite chapter Tuesday during RGV Startup Week in Brownsville.

The organization wants to capitalize on the economic potential of the so-called South Texas Triangle, which includes the area between San Antonio, Laredo, Corpus Christi, the Rio Grande Valley and Monterrey, Mexico.

David Robinson Jr., an Alamo Angels board member until a couple months ago, helped instill a regional vision into the network’s strategy, said Sebastian Garzon, its executive director.

“Through him, you know, that concept was very much important to the way that we wanted to strategically position Alamo Angels,” Garzon said.

The network has invested more than $5 million in 48 businesses across the U.S. and Mexico since launching in 2016.

Each month, Alamo Angels members meet to hear about at least three companies from San Antonio and around the U.S., typically investing in at least one, Garzon said. Its investments range from $50,000 to $300,000 and average about $150,000.

Alamo Angels’ growth comes on the heels of it entering a memorandum of understanding with the Asociación de Empresarios Mexicanos in San Antonio, a trade group of more than 125 Mexican business owners looking to establish a presence in the U.S.

Alamo Angels’ RGV chapter will be at the eBridge Center for Business and Commercialization in Brownsville. The group, which has 140 founding San Antonio members, is looking for founding members for the new chapter that’s slated to launch around August, Garzon said.

Nathan Burkhart, vice president of the Brownsville Community Improvement Corp., said that access to angel investment will complement the considerable work that’s been done to foster entrepreneurship across the Rio Grande Valley.

“We’ve done a really great job in creating our own accelerator programs, creating our own seed fund, but we were always missing that crucial, crucial mix of having an angel investment group within our ecosystem,” he said, noting that talks between his organization and Alamo Angels began about two and a half years ago. “We envisioned always having a chapter of theirs at a point when we were ready.”

For years, Burkhart said, talented people and startups have left the Rio Grande Valley in search of investors and resources. He’s confident that Alamo Angels’ investors can help stem that tide.

“We’ve been trying to reverse that brain drain, create those opportunities (to) allow people to utilize their degrees, build their own careers and also just kind of raise capital and start their own ventures down here,” Burkhart said.

The border region has seen growth in the automotive, aerospace, biomedical and energy sectors. SpaceX’s development at Starbase outside Brownsville, for instance, has generated about 2,500 jobs, and there are opportunities for startups related to that operation.

“There’s a niche of tech that used to always kind of leave this area — start here and then move out to Austin or San Antonio,” Burkhart said. “But now they’re able to kind of still remain in the Valley, where their roots are.”

In 2020, Alamo Angels, which began as the San Antonio Angel Network, became part of the Texas Research and Technology Foundation, also based in San Antonio. The network is headquartered in the VelocityTX Innovation Center on East Houston Street.