BROWNSVILLE, Texas — This new reality is hard for small businesses, but the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation and UTRGV’s Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Center are working together to help business owners in Brownsville figure out the future.

“The university has been a tremendous partner, will continue to be a tremendous partner to us to not only address the pandemic now, but also think about the future programming that’s gonna help businesses grow and accelerate and continue to innovate,” said Josh Mejia, Executive Director of the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation (BCIC). 

Mejia said they immediately developed a business registry system to collect data showcasing how COVID-19 has impacted businesses and helping them reach out to businesses is UTRGV’s Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Center (ECC).

“We’re making calls to local businesses, letting them know about resources or loans that the city has to offer,” said Bertha Lance, student assistant of UTRGV’s ECC. “A lot of them are struggling with payroll so we are guiding them toward the (PPP Paycheck Protection Program) loans for like pay roll.”

Lance, a political science major said the initiative has been a learning experience for her.

“I personally love it, it feels really nice and rewarding afterwards hearing the people thanking you,” said Lance. 

“We knew from the beginning that as soon as you reach out to these business owners they would feel like the community is caring about them,” said Mejjia. “So in some cases they’re able to vent completely exactly what issues they’re currently facing which becomes valuable information for us because then we are able to consider other options for them.” 

And while the students are learning along the way, so is the staff of the ECC. 

“A lot of our students in our center are now working towards you know kind of researching how you can re-innovate in a small business, in a food industry or in a professional development industry or retail for that matter,” said Linda Ufland, the manager of the ECC. 

With the data they have collected, Mejia said the BCIC has been able to launch their own programs to be able to provide assistance to Brownsville businesses. For any Brownsville businesses needing assistance, you can fill out a business registry.