The University of Houston-Victoria is planning construction of a new economic development center that will house many of the region’s economic growth agencies in order to expand the business base in 13 South Texas counties.
President Tim Hudson
"One of UHV’s key goals is to collaborate with other entities to promote the economic development of this region," UHV President Tim Hudson said. "We’re pleased to be working with these community leaders to provide an innovative model of regional economic development support."
UHV recently received approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to move ahead with planning the two-story, 45,000-square-foot South Texas Regional Center for Economic Development. The center on the UHV campus is expected to open in the fall of 2010.
Agencies housed inside the center will include the UHV Small Business Development Center, the Golden Crescent Regional Planning Commission and Area Agency on Aging, the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, Texas Workforce Solutions of the Golden Crescent and the UHV School of Business Administration’s proposed Texas Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development. Additional partners are being identified in Aransas, Bee, Calhoun, DeWitt, Goliad, Gonzales, Jackson, Karnes, Lavaca, Matagorda, Refugio, Victoria and Wharton counties.
The purpose of the center is to enhance the quality of life in the region by pooling the area’s workforce and other economic resources to attract and retain quality industry, and to provide students with unmatched, hands-on learning opportunities, Hudson said.
"The center will bridge the gap between education, business and economic development agencies to leverage the tremendous potential in this region," he said.
The $9.42 million center is being funded by $7.72 million in state bonds, an $800,000 U.S. Department of Commerce grant, $500,000 from the Texas Higher Education Assistance Fund and $400,000 in a combination of other funds. Part of the state bonds will be used for UHV’s new allied health initiative within the new building.
"State Representative Geanie Morrison was instrumental in helping us get funding for this project, and we owe her thanks for sharing our vision of what a great resource this will be for the region," Hudson said.
Pedro Garza, the Austin-based regional director of the Economic Development Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, said he was pleased that the center would be constructed in part through a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
"We wanted to establish a relationship with the University of Houston-Victoria," he said. "The center will serve as a catalyst to encourage more private investment and promote entrepreneurship in the area."
The idea for the center came about several years ago when Wayne Beran, UHV vice president for administration and finance, proposed the concept to regional economic development leaders.
"There is a need for a regional focus on economic development and higher education should be involved, so we invited partners to join us to help make this idea a reality," he said. "Our new degree program in economic development and its proposed outreach center fit perfectly in this mix."
In 2006, collaborations increased between the UHV Small Business Development Center and the Victoria Chamber of Commerce when both organizations moved to the UHV campus. They co-host training sessions, events and other efforts.
The South Texas Regional Center for Economic Development will further increase collaborations by housing classrooms, offices, conference rooms and support space, in addition to state-of-the-art technology, so that seminars, training sessions, regional meetings and research can be conducted in the building. Clients of the participating agencies will receive technical, training and management assistance in order to increase economic development in the area.
"I’m excited that the Victoria Chamber of Commerce will be a part of this center," said Randy Vivian, chamber president and CEO. "I think it will focus our region around economic development issues, and it will give the chamber and the other entities in the center the ability to work collaboratively and break down walls that have been established through the years. We will be able to share our resources and work better together to increase economic development in South Texas."