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After receiving a short introduction as a “friend of South Texas” by McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos, Gov. Greg Abbott appeared onstage for a business summit held at the McAllen Convention Center on Monday.

“It’s easier for a business to start here and grow here,” Abbott said before a crowd of entrepreneurs and elected officials gathered at the Rio Grande Valley Business Summit hosted by the Texas Association of Business and the RGV Partnership.

“In Texas, we pride ourselves at being able to move at the speed of business,” Abbott said, after talking about a lower tax burden and lighter regulations in the state compared to others.

The governor, who is in the midst of a re-election campaign, touted the more than 245 corporations that moved their headquarters to the state during his administration, but he praised the notable contributions made by small businesses.

“We do care about those trophies that we get involving big business, but 90% of all businesses in Texas are small businesses and they employ about half of all employees in the entire state. So, small businesses literally are our primary focus,” Abbot added.

Multiple offices dedicated to helping small businesses participated in the event to share information about the resources and opportunities accessible through the Texas Workforce Commission, Office of the Governor, and University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley, among others.

The summit aimed to address a common setback businesses often face: a lack of awareness of services available to them.

“The biggest challenge that we have is letting people know we exist,” Jarvis Brewer, a small business advocate with the Office of the Governor, said.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott smiles on stage as he is greeted by the crowd before speaking at the Rio Grande Valley Business Summit at the McAllen Convention Center on Monday, May 16, 2022, in McAllen. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Brewer explained the role of the Office of the Small Business Assistance which is designed to provide education, training, management and technical assistance to entrepreneurs and small businesses in Texas.

The Texas Workforce Commission’s workforce development division director spoke about child care services that benefit about 140,000 children per day, adult training programs, and apprenticeship opportunities.

“Small business was definitely affected a lot, because of COVID,” Javier Villalobos, McAllen’s mayor, said during the summit. “As a matter of fact, two of my businesses went under. So, I know first hand what they’re talking about.”

The mayor was one of several elected officials who attended, along with the mayor and city manager from Rio Grande City.

Villalobos said he was glad to have a summit that speaks to Texas’ ‘pro-business’ image.

“Business is what we need,” Villalobos stressed. “It’s the backbone of our society, our economy and we need it.”