BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Rio Grande Guardian

The Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation believes it can play a greater role in improving the quality of life of the local community.

In a  recent Zoom conversation with the Rio Grande Guardian. Josh Mejia, executive director of BCIC, and Nathan Burkhart, the group’s director of marketing & small business development, spoke about the issue.

“We have to be part of the conversations that are taking place with new developments coming into the city, specifically, residential development,” Burkhart said.

“We want to make sure that the residential development meets the needs of the community now and also addresses the needs of future market players coming in.”

Quality of life may become a more important topic for Brownsville because of the growth that SpaceX is creating. The space exploration company is building a rocket launching facility on nearby Boca Chica beach. This, in turn, is attracting ancillary businesses to Brownsville.

“We have to continue working on skills training in a non-traditional way to ensure that the folks that are here and the folks that are coming from outside have pathways to be able to take upon these jobs that were not even thought about to be here in our community many, many years ago,” Burkhart explained.

Another important part of quality of life is high-speed broadband.

“Broadband is equally as important as utilities,” Burkhart said. “That and the need for trail systems, the need for park enhancements, the need for attraction amenities that are in our cultural district, all of that plays a role because people that are going to come in and want to live here, they want to be able to take advantage of those assets.”

Mejia said BCIC wants to create more appealing areas in Brownsville where you can eat, play and work.

“That is BCIC’s role, community-building, building an eco-system that is conducive for that and that is the role we would like to play in a little bit more proactively and be a big player in those discussions that take place,” Mejia said.

“It really does revolve around ecosystem building, community building, through quality of life and the creative, equitable, strategic development initiatives that we are focusing on.”

BCIC’s Burkhart pointed out that Brownsville has more than 100 miles of hike and bike infrastructure.

“That is more than any other city in the Rio Grande Valley,” Burkhart said. “If we do this right, in the next five or six years we are going to be looked at as a case study on how to both capitalize on hastened new economic development but still trying to remain open and inclusive to everyone who wants to be a part of it. So, it is like a balancing act.”

Burkhart said SpaceX is going to be building at Boca Chica despite any local push back.

“How do we both have a seat at the table and ensure those who are not at the table are able to benefit from everything,” Burkhart said.

“It is an extremely unique position to be in, but the collaborative efforts that we have with both the City and GBIC and our partners at UTRGV, we will be able to navigate that correctly.”

GBIC stands for Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation. UTRGV stands for University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley.

The Zoom conversation below features discussion on quality of life issues, helping Brownsville businesses recover from the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus, BCIC’s new eBridge Center, and the impact of SpaceX on housing prices.

A Zoom conversation with Josh Mejia and Nathan Burkhart of BCIC can be heard below.