UTRGV partners with Weslaco to open incubator

WESLACO — City leaders have announced a partnership with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to open a mixed-used incubator designed to promote education, entrepreneurship and economic development in the area.

Officials with the Economic Development Corp. of Weslaco confirmed Thursday evening that Mayor David Suarez and city leaders recently signed a memorandum of understanding with UTRGV to begin a partnership between the three entities. This was described in a news release as a commitment to broaden UTRGV’s presence in the Mid-Valley.

“This is not just a win for Weslaco but for all of South Texas,” Suarez said in a prepared statement.

UTRGV President Dr. Guy Bailey added, “This MOU is a testament to UTRGV’s goal to provide regional opportunities to not only our students and faculty, but to the community as well. The City of Weslaco is now considered a valuable, long-term partner and is a community that believes in the same core values as we do.”

City property located at 275 S. Kansas Ave. will be leased to UTRGV over a 10-year period — the cost of which remained unclear as of Friday.

What officials did confirm is $1.3 million the EDC will commit to renovating the 16,225-square-foot facility, which is expected to be complete by the first quarter of 2017. A floor plan also shows that UTRGV will add four classrooms and incubator space as well as a collaborative share space. Specific use also entails UTRGV College of Business and Entrepreneurship plans to expand its existing Center for Innovation and Commercialization at the property.

“Once renovated, the facility will be a modern innovation center for post-secondary education and training, business incubation and locally-based research,” the release read. “It will also provide space for lectures, workshops and events.

COBE Dean Mark Kroll said CIC will “strengthen the economic development and entrepreneurial ecosystem by supporting businesses that have the potential to create new, higher-paying jobs and grow the economic base of the Rio Grande Valley.”

Bolstering programs as well as services via a business and technology incubator was identified as one of CIC’s current aims.