EDINBURG - University of Texas-Pan American officials and students joined Rio Grande Valley elected officials and business leaders in a unique teleconference Thursday with a similar contingent from Blas Pascal University in Córdoba, Argentina.
UTPA was one of two schools nationwide selected to participate in the teleconference, which was hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce. A separate teleconference occurred recently between the University of Pittsburgh and a Brazilian university.
During the 30-minute event, the two sides discussed a variety of topics. Among them were enhancing international trade between countries, business opportunities in the city of Córdoba and the Internet's impact on international commerce.
"We are in Argentina for two reasons," said U.S. Secretary of Commerce William Daley from Córdoba. "One is because of the importance of this market to U.S. companies. We also want to show the future belongs to trade and technology."
UTPA participants included President Miguel A. Nevárez; Roland S. Arriola, vice president for external affairs; Veronica Chavarria, an undergraduate marketing major; and Wolfgang Hinck and Jennifer Pope, students pursuing doctorates in the Business Administration program with an emphasis in International Business.
Also attending were Edinburg Mayor Joe Ochoa, Edinburg City Manager John Milford and Tito Torres, an international business lawyer based out of McAllen who has worked in Argentina.
"I'm very proud to be here," Chavarria said. "It was interesting to see how the leadership of the country is engaging in trade and trade opportunities. I think it's a great opportunity for both countries, and they have a lot to build on."
According to Nevárez, the teleconference is just a small step in exposing UTPA students to the constantly changing technology, especially through the Internet. Students now can travel the world without ever leaving the Rio Grande Valley.
"Because of the Internet, the way we're now doing business is very different than it was just a few years ago," Nevárez said. "It's opened up a wide range of possibilities."
Thursday's event was just the latest in a strong bond between the U.S. Department of Commerce and UTPA.
The Economic Development Administration (EDA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce provided a $2.25 million grant to help build the $3.1 million UTPA International Trade and Technology Center, which opened in 1998.
In addition, the EDA recently allocated $1.5 million to expand the capacity of the University's Central Utility Plant to provide fresh air to the upcoming Rio Grande Valley Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC).
As a result of these grants, the University has been able to work with various businesses to create more jobs, more income and more prominent recognition, Arriola said.
"This is a tremendous thing for our University to gain national and international attention," Arriola said. "This speaks volumes of our business school and our international Ph.D. program. And this technology is available for the business community."