EDINBURG - More than 100 businesswomen and university officials gathered Wednesday (April 7) at the UTPA Annex on South Closner, in Edinburg to celebrate the grand opening of The University of Texas-Pan American Women's Empowerment Business Center.
The new center, which is UTPA's Office of Center Operations and Community Services (CoSERVE) newest addition, is designed to assist women entrepreneurs throughout South Texas.
"The opening of this center is testimony to the fact that the face of business in this country is changing in ways that are dramatic and positive," Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-Mercedes) told the gathering.
Roland Arriola, vice-president for external affairs at UTPA, said, "Our goal is to provide the highest quality business technical assistance to women owned start-up and existing business in the four-county Rio Grande Valley area."
The center, which has been operational since October, was made possible through a $600,000 five-year grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Women's Business Ownership.
"Women have provided over a billion dollars nationwide in revenues, and the Rio Grande Valley has been kind of neglected," said Ruben Guerrero, administrator for the SBA Regional Office VI. "It's a wonderful thing having a center here in the Rio Grande Valley."
The new center is one of three women's empowerment offices in Texas and one of 35 in the country.
"The number of women entrepreneurs has grown steadily over the past 20 years," said Candi Roxas, director of the Women's Empowerment Business Center at UTPA. "Hopefully we will be able to assist the growing need women entrepreneurs have here in the Rio Grande Valley."
Connie Garza, who runs Connie's Blouses in Mission, spoke to participants at the celebration on how the Women's Empowerment Business Center has helped her.
"There is nothing special about me. I'm no different from the other women in this room," she said. "The opportunity is there, we just have to take advantage of it."
According to Roxas, clients will have access to business counseling and assistance in English or Spanish in the areas of finance, marketing, management, computer applications, and loan applications and packaging.
For more information on the UTPA Women's Empowerment Business Center, contact Roxas at 956/316-2610.