BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS- The Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation (BCIC) was recognized for its eBridge Center for Business and Commercialization project during the 2022 International Economic Development Council’s annual conference in Oklahoma City in September.
BCIC and their partner, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Center, received a Bronze Award in the Entrepreneurship category for the eBridge Center for Business and Commercialization project.
Previously known as La Casa del Nylon, the eBridge Center is located in the heart of Historic Downtown Brownsville. Originally created as a nylon-producing facility in 1967, the transformation to a startup incubator and entrepreneurial resource center began in 2019 when BCIC determined there was a need for a one-of-a-kind center for the community. With the key partners in place, BCIC began leasing the city-owned property in late 2020 and started the reconstruction of the building in June 2021 to become the “entrepreneurial bridge” for startups and small businesses to scale and commercialize their products and services.
This project would not have been possible without several key partners such as the City of Brownsville, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Center, the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce, the Lower Rio Grande Valley Economic Development Council, the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the offices of Congressman Filemon Vela, Senator John Cornyn, and Senator Ted Cruz.
The goal of the eBridge Center is to be an accelerator for startups and legacy businesses to grow and commercialize their service or product on a massive scale. The center is equipped to provide all the resources entrepreneurs need to launch their projects, obtain capital, create jobs, and reach new and larger markets including internationally.
“This project is so unique and complex. There are a lot of components that go into making this entrepreneur center just how we envisioned it,” said BCIC President & CEO, Cori Pena. “This facility will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the existing entrepreneurial ecosystem throughout Brownsville and the surrounding region by supporting entrepreneurs of all types across our community. It will be the largest resource center of its kind south of San Antonio and will develop and advance an open and inclusive ecosystem for all entrepreneurs,” she continued.
With the support and partnership of UTRGV’s Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Center, programs such as StartUp Texas, the eBridge Accelerator Program, Kauffman FastTrac, 1 Million Cups, and Spark Events will be offered at the eBridge Center.
The first floor of the eBridge Center serves as a resource center and co-sharing workspace for any level of an entrepreneur looking for guidance or assistance in starting or scaling their business. The second floor consists of the Blueprint Lab, a prototyping lab space with specialized equipment, as well as private office space for resident startups and small businesses. The center also offers product testing, and access to financing and capital through venture capitalists, angel investors, SBA (Small Business Administration) lending, or through the eBridge Revolving Loan Fund Program (eBridge Fund). Entrepreneurs using the facility will have access to co-working spaces, private offices, training rooms, and conference rooms.
“Brownsville was founded by entrepreneurs, we hope to keep that founding spirit alive with the development of this center,” says Nathan Burkhart, Director of Business Development at the BCIC. “Everything we do is for the local entrepreneur. It’s in our name ‘eBridge,’ an entrepreneurial bridge to commercialization, scalability, sustainability, and beyond.”
Thanks to the “soft-landing” designation recently received by the UTRGV Entrepreneurship & Commercialization Center, the eBridge Center has become host to 9 Latin American startups looking to expand into the U.S. Market through Brownsville. The soft-landing designation allows foreign companies to expand to the United States and receive assistance to learn the market dynamics and get connected with the ecosystem.
“We continue to build bridges for our entrepreneurs in Brownsville and the Rio Grande Valley to commercialize and scale in Latin America. Our Soft-Landing designation at eBridge allows us to attract foreign direct investment to the region and promote export opportunities for our local businesses and entrepreneurs,” said Linda Ufland, Director of Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Commercialization, at the UTRGV Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Center in Brownsville.
BCIC Board Chair, Traci Wickett, says receiving this recognition is only the beginning of a promising future at the eBridge Center.
“Receiving the Entrepreneurship Bronze Award is a testament to what will be a thriving and successful eBridge Center. eBridge promises to transform the landscape of entrepreneurship in our community and that’s exciting!” Wickett continued.
The IEDC awards honor organizations for exemplary economic development marketing campaigns, projects, and programs.
“Communities need our profession now more than ever. This year’s awardees exemplify the ingenuity, leadership, and determination needed to meet the challenges of today and the future. The winners of IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development awards represent the best of economic development and demonstrate the level of leadership that our profession strives for every day,” shared IEDC President and CEO Nathan Ohle.
For more information related to this press release, please contact Michelle Lopez, BCIC Director of Development and Communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org