San Benito center celebrates first-year anniversary

The San Benito Economic Development Corporation celebrated the first-year anniversary of the Business and Economic Development Center this month. The center provides incubation space for up to four startups and houses EDC offices. Courtesy photo

SAN BENITO — Budding entrepreneurs with a dream of opening their own business have a place to turn to for help thanks to this project that aims to make their ideas come to fruition.

The San Benito Business and Economic Development Center marked its first-year anniversary on Oct. 16.

The San Benito Economic Development Corporation (EDC) celebrated the occasion with a limited number of guests, and hosted the event for the general public on Facebook Live.

As an active way of engaging the public and to promote and support local businesses, five door prizes were raffled to those viewing the livestream.

San Benito EDC personnel stated that a celebration during COVID-19 is not easy, but the EDC Board of Directors felt that it was important to celebrate this milestone because the facility has been integral in elevating economic development in and for the community.

“At the celebratory event we had the EDC Board of Directors, the San Benito City Commission and dignitaries joining us at the facility, and we thank them for being true economic development champions and continuously being strong supporters of our city,” EDC Executive Director Rebeca Castillo said.

EDC Board President Julian Rios said the working space has been integral in strategically creating economic growth in the community.

“We are building around the concept of customer service and being hands on,” Rios said. “We assist business prospects by finding the ideal property or location, helping them prepare a business plan, program training and workshops that are of most demand and so much more.”

The center is located at 701 N. Bowie St., in a building that was formerly a vacant funeral home.

According to Castillo, the EDC reactivated the building into the Business and Economic Development Center, which now houses EDC offices, as well as serves as a resource for businesses.

The 3,000-square-foot facility provides incubation space for up to four startups that will be housed for a period of 18 to 24 months.

The startups are provided with low cost rent and resources that aim to guide them toward successfully being able to have their own storefront.

“We are very proud to have created an entrepreneurial and starter-up ecosystem that leads our businesses to success,” Castillo said.

The center had been a project that was under consideration for more than six years.

According to Castillo, the project had an original estimated cost of $800,000.

However, it was implemented by EDC staff in 2019 with a total cost of $120,000.

“The EDC staff underwent the process of activating this space and made it as operational as possible with a smaller budget,” a press release stated.

On March 25, 2019, the EDC Board of Directors voted in favor of reactivating the project.

The decision received support from city commissioners after undergoing a 60-day comment period.

Renovations of the building started by June 1, 2019 and EDC personnel moved into the facility by Aug. 1, 2019.

For more information about the San Benito Business and Economic Development Center, email info@sanbenitoedc.us or call (956) 626-1350.

ahernandez@valleystar.com