BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS- The Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation (BCIC) was recognized for its Business Improvement and Growth (BIG) programs during the 2022 International Economic Development Council’s Annual Conference.
The BCIC team received IEDC’s Silver Excellence Award in the category of Neighborhood Development during 2022’s IEDC Annual Conference in Oklahoma City last month.
BCIC developed the BIG program in 2019 to assist with the city’s revitalization efforts for the historic downtown area. The program provides financial support to commercial property owners and tenants for exterior and interior improvements to their commercial property to reactivate vacant commercial buildings, house new businesses, and support the expansion of existing businesses, all toward job creation in downtown Brownsville.
BIG offers three financial reimbursement assistance programs to businesses that would either like to expand their existing operations, relocate, or expand their operations in the designated Downtown Brownsville corridor:
- Exterior Façade Improvement Grant
- Interior Capital Improvement Grant
- Downtown Brownsville Rent Subsidy Grant Program
By visibly enhancing the exterior and interior of these buildings, properties increase in value, maintain their marketability, support the diversification of the downtown experience, and demonstrate market confidence to revitalize our historic downtown.
Since its launch in 2019, 18 projects have gone through the pipeline totaling $389,570 in property improvements, $3 million in private investment, 32 full-time jobs created, and 27 part-time jobs created.
Cori Peña, BCIC president and CEO, spearheaded the BIG program since its inception.
“Our downtown is the largest and most unique in the Rio Grande Valley, which provides a wide catalog of investment opportunities for those interested. We want to preserve this important part of our community while also establishing an attainable avenue for property owners and businesses to play a role in downtown’s revitalization efforts as we collectively pursue to reactivate vacant properties that have not contributed to the city for many years,” Peña said.
With the generous donation of $2 million by the Musk Foundation, BCIC expanded BIG and launched “BIG 2.0” in July 2021. BIG 2.0 offered increased subsidies with an emphasis on vertical activation to increase mixed-use development. Award notifications were given in early 2022 to 17 projects and eight (8) business tenants totaling $1,967,000 from the grant funds for property improvements and rent subsidy, with $20 million additional funds coming from private investment. When the projects have been completed and businesses are open, a minimum of 40 full-time jobs and 25 part-time jobs will be created.
BCIC Board of Directors Chair, Traci Wickett, says this IEDC recognition for the BIG program demonstrates just how hard BCIC is working to revitalize downtown and make it shine.
“Our BIG programs are changing the face of Brownsville’s downtown. We’re seeing our residents and folks from outside of Brownsville, visit the downtown area with family or friends,” she said. “The board of directors is very proud that BCIC’s work has been recognized by IEDC.”
IEDC is the world’s largest nonprofit professional association for professional economic developers and bestows awards for “exemplary economic development marketing campaigns, projects, and programs” in 25 categories to organizations and individuals making a positive impact on communities.
“This year’s awards selection process was especially competitive. We are honored to recognize the more than 100 communities whose marketing submissions, projects, and partnerships have improved regional quality of life,” added IEDC Awards Advisory Committee Chair Christina Winn.
Awards are judged by a diverse panel of economic and community developers from around the world. IEDC received over 500 submissions from the United States and four additional countries around the world.
For more information related to this press release, please contact Michelle Lopez, BCIC Director of Development and Communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org