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UTSA conference to focus on economic development in rural communities

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(June 5, 2014) -- The UTSA Small Business Development Center Rural Business Program, the Governor's Small Business Forum, Texas Workforce Commission and the Heart of Texas Council of Governments (HOTCOG) will host the fifth annual Texas Rural Challenge June 19-20 at the Waco Convention Center and Hilton Waco.

The Texas Rural Challenge was created in 2009 through a partnership between UTSA and the Office of the Governor and was designed to organize a statewide conference to address the needs and challenges facing rural Texas.

"UTSA is proud to host an event such as the Texas Rural Challenge," said Robert McKinley, UTSA associate vice president for economic development. "UTSA's presence and work with rural communities and small businesses throughout South and West Texas have allowed us to develop best practices and an understanding of rural issues that we can translate into a conference like the TRC."

According to 2013 estimates, Texas has the largest rural population in the nation with more than three million rural residents. The conference is the first of its kind to focus on rural Texans and will feature several keynote speakers including:

  • Christi Craddick, commissioner, Texas Railroad Commission
  • Ben Winchester, research fellow, Extension Center for Community Vitality, University of Minnesota
  • Diane Smith, Mobile Future
  • Michael Fortunato, director, Center for Community and Business Research, Sam Houston State University

"On behalf of HOTCOG and the Heart of Texas Economic Development District, we welcome everyone to the Heart of Texas Region," said HOTCOG Executive Director Russell Devorsky. "With 80 percent of the population of the state within just a few hours of here, and as we are the center point of the NAFTA Highway, it is only natural that a conference focusing on rural economic and community development should be held here."

Additionally, the conference will offer breakout sessions in three tracks: Business and Economic Development, Community Development and Statewide Rural Issues. Breakout session topics include, but are not limited to, rural entrepreneurship, economic development, Texas shale revolution, heritage and tourism, infrastructure, youth development, community resilience, health care and housing.

"It is more important than ever for the rural community to be involved and in the know.  With all of the activity going on in Texas at the moment, the rural population needs to stay engaged and the Texas Rural Challenge provides an excellent opportunity for them to do that," said Gilbert Gonzalez, UTSA SBDC rural business program director.

Two new additions to the conference are the Texas Student Challenge, a business plan competition for college students geared to business ventures and innovative technologies that will benefit rural communities, and the Texas Strong Competition, which features eight SBDC client finalists selected from across the state to participate in a $1,000 grand prize, fast-pitch competition. Learn more at the Texas Small Business Development Center website.

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Registration closes June 16; register at the Texas Rural Challenge website. View the conference agenda.

Connect with the UTSA Institute for Economic Development on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

Events

Thursday, May 5, 5 p.m.

String Project Spring Concert

This end-of-semester concert will feature the 3rd through 8th grade students who have participated in the UTSA String Project this year. The event is free and open to the public.
Buena Vista Theater, Downtown Campus

Friday, May 6, 8 p.m.

First Friday Stargazing

The UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy, Curtis Vaughan Observatory invites everyone to join them for their monthly stargazing event on top of the Flawn Science Building.
Curtis Vaughan Observatory, Main Campus

Sunday, May 8, 1 p.m.

Accordions Across Culture

May’s Free Second Sunday at the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures features "Accordions Across Cultures," with performances of Mexican, German and Czech accordion music, a documentary screening and crafts for the kids.
UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures

Monday, May 9, 8 a.m.

The Honeynet Project Workshop

This three-day event will focus on the tools, tactics and motives involved in computer and network attacks. Attendees from around the world will take part in world-class hands-on trainings and technical discussions.
H-E-B University Center Ballroom, Main Campus

Thursday, May 12, 4 p.m.

Master of Public Administration Open House

Visit with faculty, alumni and students to discuss the benefits of and requirements for a Master Degree in Public Administration and/or the Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Administration & Leadership.
Meeting Assembly Room (BVB 1.338), Downtown Campus

Saturday, May 14, 10 a.m.

UTSA Spring Commencement: Ceremony One

UTSA Spring Commencement ceremony for the College of Architecture, Construction and Planning, the College of Education and Human Development and the College of Sciences.
Alamodome

Saturday, May 14, 4 p.m.

UTSA Spring Commencement: Ceremony Two

UTSA Spring Commencement ceremony for the College of Business, the College of Public Policy and University College.
Alamodome

Sunday, May 15, 2 p.m.

UTSA Spring Commencement: Ceremony Three

UTSA Spring Commencement ceremony for the College of Engineering and the College of Liberal and Fine Arts.
Alamodome

Wednesday, May 18, 3 p.m.

The Great Staff Appreciation Event

The UTSA community is invited to honor the roughly 2,600 UTSA staff members who contribute to the success of the university and its students.
H-E-B University Center Ballroom, Main Campus

Thursday, May 19, 6 p.m.

Superintendent Certification Program Information Session

Join UTSA faculty and staff, current students, and area central office administrators/program alumni to learn about this exciting accelerated and web-enhanced program leading to Texas Superintendent Certification. The event is free and open to the public.
BVB 1.322, Downtown Campus


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