Friday, September 27, 2019 8:45 pm

The United States Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration announced this week they’re awarding a $900,000 grant to the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation to establish a state-of-the-art center that will help nurture the growth of technology-based entrepreneurial ventures.

The project will transform the Casa del Nylon Building on 1304 E. Adams St. and will be matched with $1.4 million in local funds. BCIC plans to make this the biggest entrepreneurship center south of San Antonio with the name of “e-Bridge Center for Businesses & Commercialization.”

“We want Brownsville to be the focal point for all entrepreneurs in the region, nationally and across the state,”Nathan Burkhart, Director of Marketing & Small Business Development for BCIC said. “We firmly believe in the capacity of the human capital that is currently present in our community but we feel that we can add to that attractiveness by having a physical entrepreneurial center that revolves around all the fundamental resources needed for any entrepreneur to succeed at a larger scale.”

We want Brownsville to be the focal point for all entrepreneurs in the region, nationally and across the state.

Nathan BurkhartDirector of Marketing & Small Business Development

The project is meant to create a pipeline of “scaleable businesses” or businesses that can multiply revenue with minimal additional investment. A business incubator for launching start-ups will be a component of the center, though it will also house entities providing resources small businesses and entrepreneurs need to be sustainable, Burkhart said in an earlier interview. The project is about consolidating the city’s entrepreneurship resourced under one roof, he said. BCIC spearheaded development of the concept and lined up key partners over a two-year period.

“The next step right now, BCIC along with their legal team and the Lower Rio Grande Valley development council will begin developing and finalizing an upcoming (request for quotation) for architecture and engineering to ensure that we get a design built plan for the Casa Nylon Project,” Burkhart said. “We hope that once we do a ground-breaking ceremony it will take about 14 to 16 months for the construction to be completed if all goes well smoothly and if no other delays occur within that process, but we are trying to be very effective with every step we do so that we can go ahead and get this done as soon as possible.”

The UTRGV Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Center, the university’s incubator in Brownsville, currently located on East Price Road, will move all its programs to the new center. BCIC is also collaborating with the city, the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce and the Women’s Business Center Rio Grande Valley.

“They’re all pretty much conglomerating in this one specific building so that we can provide all the resources and programming in any avenue to be able to obtain capital for all this entrepreneurs will be found in the center,” Burkhart said. “That includes all the partnerships that we’ve already established with maquiladoras from the other side of the river so we can explore any of the viable business opportunities that can come up and be established within our community.”

Burkhart added that he is very excited for Brownsville and that the project has been a success because of the involvement the community had.

“We are just very excited and proud at BCIC to be able to work collaboratively with all these other partners,” he said. “We feel that this large project was a success because of the involvement that everybody had.”