Five businesses in small and rural communities in Hidalgo County are the recent recipients of funding to consequently spur prosperity in their respective communities. The funding comes from Hidalgo County’s first-ever Small Town Economic Development program with grants totaling $100,000.
More than 40 businesses applied to the program with 21 chosen to participate. Businesses receiving $20,000 grants are Reybotics, Green Thumb Nursery, Cappadona Ranch, Ashley Nicole Boutique and Hernandez Barns.
“This economic development program was created to advance small businesses throughout the county,” said County Judge Ramon Garcia. “We wanted to help the businesses that may not have access to other resources.”
Multi-day business training for STED Grant Program participants was compliments of the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley Small Business Development Center. In the training, the participants developed business plans while working with resources to help assess the viability of their proposals. Final recommendations were made based on business plans as well as 10-minute “Shark Tank” style presentations by finalists to a panel of independent judges.
“Even those that were not awarded grants benefited from the program’s training component because they now have a better sense of what it takes to run a successful business and the economic factors that affect commerce,” said Economic Development Director Michael Leo.
The program is based on similar programs available through larger cities economic development corporations. STED is the creation of the Economic Development Division in the County Judge’s Office, as well as UTRGV SBDC. The evaluation committee included Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council Economic Development Director Terrie Salinas and RGV Partnership President Sergio Contreras and Rio South Texas Economic Council Executive Director Matt Ruszczak. Representing UTRGV were professor Marco Garza and Director of the Rio Grande Valley Texas Rural Cooperative Center Collin Cain,
“The evaluation committee is the group that did the majority of the heavy lifting on this. They are the ones that sorted through all 43 applications. Thank you for your effort and hard work,” said Garcia. “The grant recommendation was 100 percent their evaluation and decision.”