HEDC picking up tab for would-be entrepreneurs’ classes

HARLINGEN — One of the most intimidating decisions to make in life is whether to start your own business.

And of the thousand questions a budding entrepreneur will try to ask himself or herself, be assured there will be dozens of critical ones which probably are not even considered.

The Harlingen Economic Development Corp. and UTRGV have a plan to answer those questions by teaming up to offer Kauffman FastTrac courses to entrepreneurs focusing on business plans, skills and insights, tools, resources and peer networks necessary to start the process correctly.

“Its really kind of an entrepreneurship program where you learn to build business plans, know a little bit more about how to market your product and/or facility or whatever you’re looking at doing,” said Raudel Garza, chief executive officer of the HEDC. “Identifying markets, helping with trying to really understand your concept.

“If it’s a startup and they want to get into let’s say a coffee shop business, are they really looking at it as a coffee shop or is it more of a sandwich place?” he added. “And then they start talking a little bit about downtown, they talk a little bit about retail and realistic locations, they talk about things you might run into in terms of challenges while you’re trying to set up your shop.”

The courses will be held at the University Center on the campus of Texas State Technical College, although the course is being led by UTRGV instructors.

The seven-week course begins April 21 with three-hour blocks each Tuesday from 6 to 9 p.m.

“It’s seven sessions, very, very quick and very fast-paced, a lot of homework that is expected of folks,” Garza said. “But if there is anybody who is thinking about opening up a new business, this is a good way of finding out whether their idea makes sense.”

The application deadline for the course is April 18. If an applicant is selected, HEDC will pick up the entire cost of tuition, which otherwise would be about $700.

“We provide that on behalf of those students, basically to those that are selected,” he said. “We’re trying to look at people who want to open up a business in Harlingen, or have one in Harlingen right now, and are thinking about maybe expanding. Or just want to do some up-skilling.

“We look at different factors but our preference is to make sure that we find people who are either doing things here in Harlingen or want to do things in Harlingen,” he added.

Kauffman FastTrac was launched by the Kansas City-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, and pursues Kauffman’s belief that everyone has a fundamental right to turn an idea into an economic reality by eliminating barriers to success.

Kauffman FastTrac

WHAT — Business/entrepreneur classes

WHERE — University Center, TSTC campus

WHEN — Classes are 6-9 p.m. Tuesdays beginning April 21 for seven weeks.

REGISTRATION — Deadline is April 18

ONLINE — Submit online applications here:


COST: Free to accepted applicants