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By Ron Whitlock • Rio Grande Guardian

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez says developing the eBridge Center for Business and Commercialization is a sign that his city now has a “different mindset.”

The center is being created in the old La Casa del Nylon building at 1304 E. Adams St.

Speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony, Mendez said: “This is an exciting day because it really is kind of a culmination of what I feel is a new Brownsville, a new attitude, a new vision. And this building in a way is the epitome of that, right?”

Mendez pointed out that the building has not been used for years.

“It sat for years vacant, kind of forgotten, a dusty book on the shelf and then, suddenly, somebody came up with an idea of, ‘hey, this is what we are going to do, this is a new to innovate, this is the way we are going to move into the future.’ And here we are,” Mendez said.

“Somebody takes something that may be lost or forgotten. And I kind of feel that way for Brownsville. We were, in a way, a sleeping giant for years, kind of left on the shelf, not really thought of for a while. But we are back, we are back in a big way.”

The eBridge Center is being developed thanks to a partnership between the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation, the City of Brownsville, Brownsville Chamber of Commerce, the Lower Rio Grande Valley Economic Development Council, the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the U.S. Small Business Administration, UT-Rio Grande Valley and the UTRGV Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Center.

BCIC Executive Director Josh Mejia said the eBridge Center will consolidate “all the foundational resources necessary for entrepreneurs to start their ventures, obtain capital, scale them up, and eventually reach new markets.”

In a Zoom interview earlier this year, Mejia said the eBridge Center is “a one-size fits all for the first floor. For any entrepreneur that wants to just build a mom and pop shop or who wants to create a large enterprise, they can do that. Our second floor is specialized on acceleration, to be able to help folks obtain the capital through VCs (venture capitalists), through angel investors, through SBA (Small Business Administration) lending, or lending as well thanks to the recent investment that the EDA (Economic Development Administration) made of $2 million.”

In his remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony, Mayor Mendez praised those who have the “vision, talent and passion” to move the city forward.

 

“This is exciting because of what it represents for our city. It represents innovation, it represents going into the future with a different mindset, what we feel our city will be going forward.”

While Brownsville has long been the second most historic city in Texas and the largest city in the Rio Grande Valley, it was never known for innovation, Mendez said.

“We were thought of different to what we are now. Now, we have that guy I mentioned earlier, Elon Musk, flying some rockets a few miles away from here. We are thought of now as what we want to be which is a New Space city. So we are really working on trying to bring that innovation to Brownsville and this (eBridge Center) is just another thing to continue to draw that.”

Mendez said a couple of New Space companies have moved into Brownsville already and more are to follow.

“Tomorrow, we are excited to announce another company that is in aerospace that will be relocating to Brownsville as well. So, this is where we are going and this is where our future lies,” Mendez said.

“I could not be more excited to be in this position as your mayor. I am selling the city on a regular basis with these companies and I know Josh is doing a fantastic job at BCIC, Helen now at GBIC, is doing a great job. So, I feel like the pieces are in place and seeing the crowd here I know all of you believe in Brownsville just as much as I do. And y’all are the energy behind our city and the ones that really make it work.”

The “Helen” Mendez referred to is Helen Ramirez, deputy city manager for Brownsville and executive director and CEO of the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation.

Here is an audio recording of the recent groundbreaking ceremony:

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