Assistant Secretary Castillo Highlights Trade, Entrepreneurship and Ecotourism During Visit to South Texas

US Undersecretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo traveled to the Lone Star State to take a close look at EDA’s investments in South Texas.

On Tuesday, February 22, 2022, Castillo helped cut the ribbon for the new South Texas Ecotourism Center, joining U.S. Congressmen Filemon Vela and Vicente Gonzalez and several local leaders to celebrate the center’s grand opening, including Commissioner of Cameron County, David Garza, who played a vital role in the development of the project The project itself demonstrates the impact of place-based local economic development and the significance of EDA’s impact in the communities across the country.

Federal and local leaders marked the grand opening of the South Texas Ecotourism Center.

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Assistant Secretary Castillo participated in the dedication of the South Texas Ecotourism Center.

The South Texas Ecotourism Center in Laguna Vista, Texas is expected to attract tourists to the area and showcase the diverse ecosystems of the Rio Grande Valley. EDA is proud to support this project with an investment of $700,000 to support critical project infrastructure.

After the ribbon cutting, Castillo traveled to nearby Brownsville, Texas to tour the construction of the eBridge: Center for Business and Commercialization. The project is funded by a $900,000 investment from the EDA. Renovations are underway to the old Casa del Nylon building and when complete, this state-of-the-art center will serve as a business incubator to support small businesses and entrepreneurs starting from the ground up.

Next, Castillo participated in a panel discussion with Congressmen Gonzalez at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. They were joined by regional and local leaders to discuss workforce development, supply chain challenges and cross-border trade.

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Castillo participated in a roundtable at the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley focused on workforce development and trade.

Castillo noted that the South Texas region has incredible economic development assets, including a well-trained bilingual workforce, an open and inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystem, many shovel-ready sites ready for development, and a location that connects the United States to Latin America and beyond.

Finally, Castillo ended his stopover in South Texas by visiting American aerospace manufacturer SpaceX, whose EDA grant funded the Stargate building. The company has created thousands of jobs and provided new opportunities for rural communities to work in STEM fields.

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EDA Austin Regional Director Jorge Ayala, External Affairs Manager Marisela Cortez, Assistant Secretary Castillo and Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX-15) toured SpaceX facilities in South Texas.

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