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UHV raises $915,000 to fund partnership for Victoria economic development

With the support of local leaders, government entities and entrepreneurs, the University of Houston-Victoria College of Business has secured $915,000 for a partnership with a company to help increase entrepreneurship and economic development in the Victoria area.

The university has entered into an agreement with Innovation Collective, a company based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, to help the Victoria region create and develop a new ecosystem of business. The company has similar projects in Coeur d’Alene; Brooksville, Fla.; and Utica, N.Y.

Ken Colwell

The company will help leaders and community members create a culture of economic innovation and assist with the creation of new business ventures and job opportunities for residents. The new business and job opportunities also will encourage more UHV students to stay in the Victoria area after graduation, said Ken Colwell, dean of the college of business.

“Partnering with Innovation Collective is in line with UHV’s mission of developing students who are ready for the professional world and promoting economic development and quality of life in the Victoria region,” Colwell said. “We are bringing people in the community together to discuss what the future economy of Victoria will look like, and we are excited to be part of this unique opportunity.”

The Innovation Collective is an ecosystem development company that, through a method of curated events, mentorship, training, partnerships, placemaking and software, helps people start and grow innovative businesses, according to the company’s website. Innovation Collective communities across the country each have different focuses, such as artificial intelligence and robotics; aging and longevity; and sports, entertainment and the arts. The Innovation Collective community in Victoria does not have a focus yet but will develop one during its first few years of operation.

Innovation Collective requires $915,000 to operate their program in Victoria for the first three years. The startup funding covers program costs, including hiring a community leader, travel costs, marketing, conferences, summits and events.

During the first three years, Innovation Collective will hold dozens of events each year for people in the community to voice their entrepreneurial ideas. The entrepreneurs then will be in a program to develop their business ideas under expert guidance to see if the business can be viable.

The following entities and community members each have committed $100,000 during the next three years to help launch and operate the office:

  • City of Victoria
  • David and Tammy Murphy
  • Frost Bank
  • Haberling McLeroy Family Foundation
  • klean corp international/Tami and Robby Burdge
  • Melvin and Janey Lack
  • Victoria County
  • Victoria Sales Tax Development Corp.

Other contributors to the project include Victoria College, the Victoria Independent School District, UHV College of Business, and Pat and Bill Blanchard.

After the first three years, Innovation Collective in Victoria is projected to be self-sustaining as an organization and will no longer require philanthropic support. The organization becomes self-sustaining in a variety of ways, including real estate development and taking equity stakes in some businesses that come up through the program. Innovation Collective plans to have the office located in downtown Victoria.

Jesse Pisors

“It is both impressive and promising to see the diversity of organizations, entrepreneurs and all three Victoria public education entities embrace and support this worthy investment,” said Jesse Pisors, UHV vice president for advancement and external relations. “UHV greatly appreciates the support of our donors, and we are excited to work with the community on this innovative project. We are also happy to hear that Innovation Collective plans to have their location in Downtown Victoria, which will help with efforts to revitalize our downtown area.”

With UHV as a growing institution of higher learning and a resource in the Victoria community, it made sense for the university to be a key player in the economic development of the city, Colwell said.

“There was a broad agreement from local leaders that Victoria needs more entrepreneurial economic development,” he said. “When this opportunity came to partner with the company, we saw that its proven model could be beneficial for our community.”

The project will be led by a Success Team composed of donors as well as UHV and community leaders. The Success Team will operate like a board and help the Victoria-based Innovation Collective office make decisions. More people and organizations can be added to the team as the project is underway, Colwell said.

The Success Team includes individuals and members from the following organizations:

  • UHV
  • City of Victoria
  • Victoria County
  • The Victoria Sales Tax Development Corp.
  • Victoria College
  • Victoria Independent School District
  • Frost Bank
  • Kenny French Sr.
  • David and Tammy Murphy
  • Melvin and Janey Lack
  • Bill Wendlandt
  • Teri R. Moten
  • Bethany Castro
  • Robby Burdge

Bill Blanchard, president of the Victoria Sales Tax Development Corp., said that the idea for an Innovation Collective office in the region is in line with the corporation’s initiatives and objectives, one of which is to develop an entrepreneurial culture in Victoria. Blanchard said he looks forward to being part of the Success Team and working toward an economic development theme for the Victoria Innovation Collective office.

“Innovation Collective is well suited to help the economic development of the region, and the company’s methodology provides a system of support for an entrepreneurial culture in the area,” he said. “UHV serves the Victoria region, and having the university be a major partner in developing entrepreneurship here is important. We want to see UHV continue to grow, as well, and this is a great way to have the university involved with our Victoria community.”

Each Innovation Collective community operates around a focus or theme, and there will be discussions and various town hall events to listen to ideas about what would be the best focus for the Victoria region. These events will be open to the public.

“This community project is for everybody,” Colwell said. “We want to cast a wide net and reach out and make sure everyone knows that no matter what area they live in or group they are a part of, Innovation Collective is for them. We want to listen to all ideas.”

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region, offers courses leading to more than 65 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and concentrations in the schools of Arts & Sciences, Business Administration, Education & Human Development, and Nursing. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus as well as teaching sites in Fort Bend and Harris counties, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. Since its founding in 1973, UHV has provided students with a quality university education from excellent faculty at an affordable price.