Local EDC Funding Unique Venture Program to Help Attract Jobs

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MISSION – You may have heard the recent news about the company Black & Decker opening up shop in the city of Mission’s industry park, bringing upwards of 400 jobs to the area.

That’s thanks in part to the work of the Mission Economic Development Corporation.

From Starr to Cameron counties, economic development corporations around the Rio Grande Valley work to create new jobs by attracting corporations and businesses to the region.

Now, the Mission EDC is taking it a step further with a unique training program to grow local entrepreneurs. Their vision is to help establish big businesses like Black & Decker right here at home.

Mission EDC uses their Ruby Red Venture Program to invest in their own community, helping to build a strong foundation for local “mom and pops.”

The venture program gives them the support they need to advance to the next level. They say once a business is born in Mission, it will likely never leave – staying there to generate the economy for years to come.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS looked into how the program is changing JDG Jewelers, a bustling jewelry store off of Conway Avenue in Mission.

“Everything is customized so everything they have in mind, we can create for them,” explained Abraham Neave, whose family built the business from the ground up.

Neave showed us 3D printed prototype jewelry models, something he says is changing the jewelry industry in the Valley. So far, JDG tells us they’re the only shop using the new technology.

“It’s like using a regular typewriter and now using a computer to type a paper,” Neave explained. “If you made a mistake before you’d have to start all over again. Using 3D printing it’s the opposite, you can just go back, edit it and make a couple of changes and there you go. You don’t have to go back.”

It cuts production time from two to three months, down to about a week depending on the piece. A grant from the venture program allowed the family to buy the printer, as well as another machine that tests the qualities of material they use.

“Sales have increased,” explained Neave, crediting Ruby Red Ventures. “We’ve also increased the reputation with customers.”

“Abraham took a family business and implemented technology to it,” explained Alex Mead, the President and CEO of Mission EDC. Mead works with participants of the venture program.

“We decided to invest in training people. Basically, investing in the community,” Mead explained. “Investing in the community in hopes that the more talent you have, the more successful companies you have in the region, the more vibrant economy you’ll have in the community.”

Neave’s family first started selling their products in Mexico and flea markets back in 2001. Fast forward to today and now they’re in a busy storefront.

Through the venture program, they were able to write a business plan on how they planned to get there. It was approved and then funded.

“How can we expect a large company to invest in our community when we’re not willing to invest in our own community, right?” explained Mead. “That local company will likely never leave Mission. They might expand to another community but they’ll always be based out of Mission.”

Neave says not only do they plan to stay in Mission, but they’re also looking to expand.

“We are definitely looking to hire a couple more in the next couple of months,” he said.

A business of seven employees, that's planning on adding two more means it’s growing by 28 percent. Mission EDC has faith they’ll only continue to grow from there.

That venture program is free for you to apply for. Anyone can apply as long as they plan to open their business in Mission. You can find more information on their website.

Mission EDC says attracting business starts with a skilled workforce, that’s why they’re kicking off a new technology training program which, like the venture program, is free for anyone in the Valley to apply for. It’s a 12-week boot camp cybersecurity program aimed at vamping up tech skills in the region.

“We decided to address that because we felt that if we want to continue growing the entrepreneurial environment, technology’s going to have to play a role,” said Mead.

All you have to do is apply.

Mission EDC will run a second round of training in the spring. You can apply at their website here.

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