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Statewide Conference to Encourage Rural Economic Development

Statewide Conference to Encourage Rural Economic Development

Attracting hundreds of attendees from 90+ Texas cities, the Texas Rural Challenge bridges state and federal resources with rural community leaders.

(San Antonio, June 7, 2018) – The University of Texas at San Antonio Institute for Economic Development will launch its 9th annual Texas Rural Challenge conference in New Braunfels, Texas on July 16 -17. This year’s conference theme, “Forging Our Future,” will focus on trending themes among today’s rural communities including technology, trade and regionalism. The conference will also promote best practices and offer collaborative opportunities to spur ideas and professional relationships that can help Texas rural communities thrive. Keynote speakers will include Texas Secretary of State Rolando B. Pablos, TV personality Chet Garner of The Daytripper and industry experts representing the Governor’s Office, U.S. Economic Development Administration, Texas Workforce Commission, Councils of Government, VTX1 Companies, higher education and more.

Event: Texas Rural Challenge (Media are encouraged to attend.)
Date: July 16-17
Location: New Braunfels Civic Center
375 S. Castell Ave, New Braunfels, Texas
Registration: $199 per individual / Sponsorship opportunities available

>>Register and view the full conference agenda at

Notably, Texas Strong, a featured competition of the conference, will test how effectively entrepreneurs are able to fast-pitch their businesses. Texas Small Business Development Center (SBDC) clients who have developed innovative products or services to benefit rural communities will vie for cash awards of up to $5,000 to support their business endeavors.

“Texas Strong opened my eyes to all the amazing things happening in our rural communities and made me proud to be from a rural community,” said Robert Likarish, 2016 Texas Strong first place winner and CEO of Ironroot Republic Distillery.

Texas is comprised of 254 counties, including 177 that are considered rural and have a population less than 50,000.

“Rural communities account for more than half the State of Texas. With the immense growth that the Texas Rural Challenge has experienced over the years, we invite interested local, state, and federal partners, rural community leaders and the general public to get involved in a conference that caters specifically to Texas rural communities,” said Albert Salgado, executive director of the UTSA South-West Texas Border SBDC Network.

Year after year, the Texas Rural Challenge has connected community leaders and agency representatives, leading to professional relationships that have created prosperous opportunities for development and growth in rural Texas.

“This conference will give communities the ability to consider successful policy tools and other elements available in the context of regional economic development. One way to develop a successful strategy is to hear and assess policies based on their potential contribution to economic growth and consider choices that will work in individual communities,” said Bob Velasquez, director of the Southwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center.

“The Texas Rural Challenge conference is an outstanding event and a real showcase for the economic vitality and strength of rural communities. The innovation and resilience we see in rural small businesses in Texas is a real beacon for SBDC efforts nationwide. Thanks to UTSA and the South-West Texas Border SBDC Region for their leadership in this effort to energize rural entrepreneurship,” said Tee Rowe, America’s SBDC president.


Register for the Texas Rural Challenge at

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About the UTSA Institute for Economic Development

The UTSA Institute for Economic Development is dedicated to growing businesses, creating jobs and fostering economic development. Focused on building the economy one business at a time, the Institute consists of 9 centers and programs that provide professional business advising, technical training, research and strategic planning for entrepreneurs, business owners and community leaders. These programs serve Greater San Antonio, the Texas-Mexico border area as well as regional, national and international stakeholders. Together with the federal, state and local governments, and private businesses, the UTSA Institute for Economic Development fosters economic and community development in support of UTSA’s community engagement mission. In 2017, the Institute generated direct regional economic impact of 7,350 jobs, started 626 new businesses, $459 million in new financing, $46 million in new tax revenue and exceeded $1.3 billion in new sales, exports and contracts.

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The Institute for Economic Development is funded in part through the State of Texas and a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities or limited English proficiency will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance.