Annually, the Harlingen Economic Development Corporation sponsors two Kauffman FastTrac courses. The next session begins Feb. 2 via Zoom for this accelerated business course, led by the UTRGV Entrepreneurship & Commercialization Center. The Harlingen EDC’s sponsorship gives up to 10 Harlingen-based entrepreneurs the opportunity to take this exclusive course at no cost. The course is at a value of more than $700 per participant.
Course offerings are typically in the spring and fall with a limit on registration. The HEDC board of directors will select 10 participants from applications. Kauffman will take place every Tuesday beginning Feb. 2 through March 16 from 6-9 p.m. The deadline to register is Jan. 12.
The program is open to entrepreneurs interested in opening a business in Harlingen or are current Harlingen business owners. It connects participants to real-life experts who can help steer them in the right direction as they begin their business journey. The course may also help improve skills for those who currently own a business.
The program provides participants with the tools to develop a business concept, determine the viability of the concept, and outline the critical steps to a successful business launch. Topics that participants can expect range from marketing, branding, accounting, and legal concerns and tips.
The course begins with each participant giving their elevator pitch. As the class progresses, the goal is for each participant to effortlessly and with greater confidence present their elevator pitch on the final day of instruction.
Kauffman assists in:
- Identifying market needs
- Understanding business fundamentals
- Exploring risks and success factors
- Networking with entrepreneurship professionals
- Building a business plan
- Accessing the human, financial, and business resources
“The overall goal is to have entrepreneurs develop a solid framework to support the start of their business,” says UTRGV Kauffman instructor Maria Villalon. “My hope is that they understand how their role will grow and that they gain knowledge to prepare them to fill those roles.”
Training for the Real-World of Business
Past Kauffman participants have successfully opened their own businesses using the experience and knowledge gained from the course.
“The Kauffman program helped me put pen to paper and get my ideas and vision out of my head and into an organized plan,” says Maizeria owner Greg Rangel. “My business plan has definitely made the rollout of Maizeria much smoother than anticipated. I greatly appreciate that I was given the opportunity to attend the program.”
Rangel added that while there is still some work to be done, what he gained from the program has positioned his business with a higher likelihood for success.
“HEDC has been a proud sponsor of these training classes for many years,” says HEDC CEO Raudel Garza. “We see how the program has helped many of our small business owners continue to grow or begin their business dreams here in Harlingen.
“These last few months have been very tough on small businesses. Many of them are struggling to survive. We want Harlingen’s businesses to not only survive but to thrive,” continues Garza. “This program is one of the ways we are helping small businesses do that. But they have to apply. Not everyone is ready for this course. It is for individuals who have that ‘can-do’ attitude and entrepreneurial spirit found in successful businesses.”
The application includes a series of questions applicants must fill out accurately.