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Statewide conference encourages rural economic development

Statewide conference encourages rural economic development

(July 17, 2018) – The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Institute for Economic Development is holding its 9th annual Texas Rural Challenge conference this week in New Braunfels, Texas. This year’s conference theme, “Forging Our Future,” focuses on trending themes among today’s rural communities including technology, trade and regionalism. The conference also promotes best practices and offers collaborative opportunities to spur ideas and professional relationships that can help Texas rural communities thrive.

Keynote speakers include Texas Secretary of State Rolando B. Pablos, TV personality Chet Garner of The Daytripper and industry experts representing the Governor’s Office, U.S. Economic Development Administration, Texas Workforce Commission, Councils of Government, VTX1 Companies, higher education and more.

Notably, Texas Strong, a featured competition of the conference, will test how effectively entrepreneurs are able to fast-pitch their businesses. Texas Small Business Development Center (SBDC) clients who have developed innovative products or services to benefit rural communities will vie for cash awards of up to $5,000 to support their business endeavors.

“Texas Strong opened my eyes to all the amazing things happening in our rural communities and made me proud to be from a rural community,” said Robert Likarish, 2016 Texas Strong first place winner and CEO of Ironroot Republic Distillery.

Texas is comprised of 254 counties, including 177 that are considered rural and have a population less than 50,000.

“Rural communities account for more than half the State of Texas. With the immense growth that the Texas Rural Challenge has experienced over the years, we invite interested local, state, and federal partners, rural community leaders and the general public to get involved in a conference that caters specifically to Texas rural communities,” said Albert Salgado, executive director of the UTSA South-West Texas Border SBDC Network.

Year after year, the Texas Rural Challenge has connected community leaders and agency representatives, leading to professional relationships that have created prosperous opportunities for development and growth in rural Texas.

“This conference will give communities the ability to consider successful policy tools and other elements available in the context of regional economic development. One way to develop a successful strategy is to hear and assess policies based on their potential contribution to economic growth and consider choices that will work in individual communities,” said Bob Velasquez, director of the Southwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center.

“The Texas Rural Challenge conference is an outstanding event and a real showcase for the economic vitality and strength of rural communities. The innovation and resilience we see in rural small businesses in Texas is a real beacon for SBDC efforts nationwide. Thanks to UTSA and the South-West Texas Border SBDC Region for their leadership in this effort to energize rural entrepreneurship,” said Tee Rowe, America’s SBDC president.

Ingrid Wright

Learn more about the Texas Rural Challenge.

Learn more about the SBDC Rural Business Program.

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The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

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