Tuesday, April 21, 2020

By Letty Fernandez

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – The UTRGV Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Center (ECC) is creating networking opportunities and other initiatives to help businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ECC, a department in the UTRGV Division of Governmental and Community Relations, works with new and existing businesses to help connect them with opportunities via business incubation, networking, funding opportunities and research, all meant to grow and expand their ventures. 

“Our businesses are hurting now. Some have closed temporarily, and those that remain open are close to shutting down,” said Linda Ufland, manager of the UTRGV ECC. “These businesses are vital to our regional economy and we, as economic development builders, are here to assist in any way we can.”

The ECC is providing outreach and technical support to the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation (BCIC), and through its StartUp Texas program is helping businesses access federal funding through the Small Business Administration and its partner lenders. The BCIC has allocated $450,000 for grants under this new program.

Ufland said her staff and student workers are working from home due to COVID-19, but they will be reaching out to small businesses who registered in an online database conducted by the City of Brownsville, BCIC and the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce to let them know help is available. Almost 350 businesses registered in the survey, which also addressed the key challenges the Brownsville business community is facing due to the pandemic.

Ufland has important information for those businesses that are not eligible for SBA loans but that still need help: The ECC launched a newsletter called “COVID-19 & Your Business,” which, provides information on funding opportunities for existing small businesses and startups.

“We have been talking with business owners we’ve helped through the ECC,” Ufland said. “These are people who opened their business in the past six months and now are struggling. We feel their pain and we are trying to do what we can to help them.”

To see the newsletter, visit www.utrgv.edu/ecc.

For more information about the BCIC “COVID-19 Business Assistance Grants,” visit www.brownsvilleeedc.org.


The Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Center (ECC) serves as a real-life entrepreneurship laboratory for UTRGV and the community. Entrepreneurs can collaborate to take advantage of opportunities and create value through business incubation, networking. funding opportunities and research in today’s global environment. For more information, visit www.utrgv.edu/ecc/.


The Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation (BCIC) pursues economic development projects designed to improve the quality of life for the city of Brownsville. These investments include small business development, retail development, entrepreneurship, and job creation projects. For more information, visit  https://www.brownsvilleedc.org/.


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.