Brownsville economic arm’s Rally in the Valley initiative wins state award

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The Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation has been awarded the 2024 Workforce Excellence Award by the Texas Economic Development Council, or TDEC.

GBIC said the award, in TEDC’s regional category, recognizes its impact on the community through successful workforce initiatives. GBIC is one of Brownsville’s two economic development organizations (EDOs). It and the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation each are supported by a quarter-cent sales tax.

GBIC said its two-year-old Rally in the Valley internship expo was a key initiative earning it the TEDC award.

“Through Rally in the Valley, we have successfully connected over 1,000 students with internship opportunities and valuable resources for their professional development,” the organization said.

Also, employers who participated in the expo benefit from GBIC’s partnership with the TXWORKS Internship Program, a statewide paid-internship program for Texas undergraduate students and employers. Employers who hire eligible students through TXWORKS, a program of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, are reimbursed a portion of each intern’s hourly wages at the completion of the internship period.

GBIC was among seven recipients of this year’s Workforce Excellence Awards in various population categories from around the state. The only other South Texas recipient this year was the Kingsville Chamber of Commerce, which won in the 15,001-40,000 population category.

GBIC Deputy Executive Director Jerry Briones credited Karla De La Riva, the organization’s former workforce director, for creating and pioneering Rally in the Valley.

“By connecting students with real-world opportunities and resources, we are not only shaping their professional paths but also strengthening the economic future of our community,” he said.

Award nominee applications were reviewed and scored by TEDC’s Workforce Development Committee based on five criteria: innovativeness, transferability, community commitment and leverage, measured objectives and secondary benefits, GBIC said.

According to GBIC’s application, Rally in the Valley has been replicated by the state in communities such as The Woodlands (along with Sugar Land part of the Houston metropolitan), which has an initiative called Power in the Pines.

“These initiatives, similar to Rally in the Valley, aim to connect students with resources and internship opportunities, showcasing the program’s potential for adaptation and success in diverse communities,” GBIC said.