PRESS RELEASE – Brownsville, TX – Thursday, November 9, 2023. The Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation (BCIC) proudly announces a significant grant award from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA). The 'Build to Scale' grant, consisting of a Federal share of $1.2 million and a BCIC match, is aimed at fortifying the technological and entrepreneurial capacity of the Brownsville region. This significant financial support is committed to economic growth through the expansion of the StartUp Texas Accelerator program and the development of an early-stage funding pathway.

“Cultivating innovation and empowering entrepreneurs is the key to unlocking economic prosperity. With the generous support of the Economic Development Administration's Build to Scale program, we are confident to ignite a wave of transformative change through the services and programming coming out of the eBridge Center,” said Cori Peña, BCIC President and CEO. “This grant reinforces our commitment to our entrepreneurial community in driving forward the engines of economic growth, equipping innovators with the resources they need to thrive and lead us into a brighter, more prosperous future," Peña added.

This grant will significantly enhance BCIC's ability to offer comprehensive support to entrepreneurs, from essential training and technical assistance to facilitating access to a robust network of resources and potential investors. The eBridge Center for Business & Commercialization, supported by this grant, will expand its operational capacity to provide critical training, technical support, and a robust network of resources. Through this enriched ecosystem, entrepreneurs will gain the skills and resources to attract funding and investments, catalyzing significant economic advancement for Brownsville and the Rio Grande Valley region.

Vision of Economic Transformation

Jill Dominguez, BCIC Board Chair, expressed her vision for the transformative potential of the grant: "This grant transcends mere financial aid; it is the spark that will ignite our capacity to elevate Brownsville's youth and early-stage entrepreneurs. It offers them a global platform while showcasing the rich potential of our diverse local community."

The collaborative initiative aims to create a fertile ground for entrepreneurs to flourish, contributing to substantial economic advancement for the city of Brownsville. This aligns seamlessly with the 'Build to Scale' program's objectives of building diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems and fostering equitable economic and job growth.

Strengthening Brownsville's Economic Future Together

Veronica Gonzales, Senior Vice President of Governmental and Community Relations, expressed her support, “The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley congratulates the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation (BCIC) and the eBridge partnership on receiving the EDA Build to Scale Venture Challenge grant. The university is proud of its partnership with BCIC to broaden the scope of entrepreneurial support services, and this grant will further those services by introducing an accelerator program tailored to assist enterprises in the technology, manufacturing, aerospace, healthcare, and energy sectors. The eBridge collaboration has been instrumental in assisting entrepreneurs, providing practical learning experiences for our students, creating research opportunities, and revitalizing our economically distressed area, thereby transforming the economic fabric of Brownsville and the RGV.”

Furthermore, Linda Ufland, Director of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Commercialization, commented on the collaboration: "BCIC's dedication to enhancing the quality of life and elevating local startups aligns perfectly with our mission to bring together university and industry. The economic future of Brownsville and the RGV is as bright as the minds we're nurturing together. What our eBridge community has accomplished is a driving force in the economic and educational landscape of the city."

BCIC is set to harness these funds to escalate its efforts in promoting a dynamic environment for technology-driven enterprises. By working hand in hand with the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Center's (UTRGV-ECC) curriculum, BCIC will expand its StartUp Texas accelerator program to now tailor it for high-potential sectors such as technology, manufacturing, aerospace, healthcare, and energy. Also, new opportunities for early-stage entrepreneurs and the activation of eBridge Center prototyping space are on the upcoming projects that will now be a reality for Brownsville.

The Bright Future Ahead

Nathan Burkhart, BCIC’s Director of Business Development, spoke more about the bright future of the organization, “In 2020, we launched Startup Texas with the aim of supporting aspiring entrepreneurs in Brownsville by providing them with modest capital to grow and scale their businesses. Thanks to partnerships with the UTRGV ECC and, more recently, the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station through our eBridge Center, we've broadened the program's scope, inviting a more diverse range of businesses to participate. The recent grant from the EDA ensures that we can persist in our mission to empower entrepreneurs in Brownsville and the RGV startup ecosystem, fostering their growth and scalability.”

The award highlights BCIC's role in driving the economic engine of the Brownsville region, positioning it as a leader in quality of life enhancement and equitable economic development in Texas.

For further details or press inquiries, please contact Cori Peña, BCIC President & CEO, at cpena@bcic.us.

About Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation

The Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation (BCIC) is a “Type B” economic development organization with a mission to enhance quality of life through innovative and equitable economic development initiatives. For more information, visit www.brownsvilleedc.org.

About eBridge Center for Business and Commercialization

The eBridge Center for Business and Commercialization is the largest startup incubator and entrepreneurial resource center of its kind in the Rio Grande Valley. It provides incubation and acceleration services to entrepreneurs and businesses in collaboration with UTRGV Entrepreneurship & Commercialization Center, the City of Brownsville, the United States Economic Development Administration, and the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council. The center is home to the StartUp Texas Accelerator Program, a U.S. Patent Trade Resource Center, the Small Business Development Center, the Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center, the Procurement Technical Assistance Center, the Veterans Business Outreach Center, the Nonprofit Resource Center, prototyping space, training space, dedicated desks, and private offices.