By: Adolfo A. Lopez and Marco I. Kidder | August 17, 2022
MISSION, TEXAS – This past year, the Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce (GMCC) hosted a Business Accelerator Bootcamp in an effort to strengthen and improve local businesses’ resiliency to economic impacts like those of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Mission Economic Resiliency, Innovation, and Training (M.E.R.I.T.) Project was just one of the many relief programs initiated by the U.S. government to help businesses adapt to economic changes and improve employment opportunities for local businesses.
Through the efforts of the GMCC and the City of Mission, $125,000 were granted to provide educational and sustainable business strategies to local businesses of the Hidalgo County area. With this grant, UTRGV interns, business consultants, and business experts were employed to conduct seminars and workshops for 40 prospected businesses throughout 3 cohorts of the project.
Below is a short summary of events and successes that transpired during the M.E.R.I.T. Project; and, how local businesses can continue to build a greater business community with their local government.
M.E.R.I.T. Project Highlights and Partnerships
One of the project’s biggest resources was the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) and their support in opening the door to employing 20 interns (paid by the project). Other notable resources include Hector Ramirez, Dr. Peter Magnusson, Maria Villalon, and Linda Ufland in their efforts in developing the Accounting, Marketing, and E-Commerce seminars for the project. These seminars, conducted for each cohort, set the tone for what the registered business could expect to learn during the business coaching sessions. Once the seminars ended, it was time for the student interns and business coaches to begin working as a team alongside the registered businesses.
- Each business benefited from a total of 6, 1-hour business coaching sessions in the area(s) of their choice (acct, mktg, e-com); and 12 weeks of intern support in any business strategies developed by the team during the business coaching sessions.
- The teams put their minds together to discover new financial opportunities and ways to improve business practices that related to the three areas of the seminars. A few strategies that were developed that are worth mentioning are:
- QuickBooks startup and tutorial
- Separating Personal and Business Accounts
- Website Designing
- Business Re-Branding
- Win-Win-Win! This project, like any other, offered a lot of benefits for everyone involved. Interns gained experience in working with local businesses and business consultants. The business consultants worked with and mentored student interns. Businesses received support from the student interns and business consultants at no cost to them.
Projects like these continue to bring light to local governments and increase the potential amount of grants their business community can receive. Throughout the entire duration of the project, there has been great feedback and interest in continuing the project, however, the M.E.R.I.T. Project had only received enough funding for the entire 12 months.
Interested in learning more about other similar opportunities?
Reach out to your local chambers of commerce! Ask about business development programs or visit some of these sites: