Launch McAllen: Propelling Entrepreneurs & Small Business Owners Forward

The McAllen metro area, home to more than 2 million bilingual, bicultural people, is a region that has not only become an international hub for major industries but which also supports a thriving small business community.

The McAllen Chamber of Commerce, along with leaders from the City of McAllen and McAllen Economic Development Corporation, is dedicated to paving the pathway to success for inventors, entrepreneurs, and innovators.

We have developed forward-thinking programs to provide entrepreneurs, inventors, startup owners, and business leaders with the tools and support they need to not only get their ideas off the ground but also sustain their businesses.

These programs have coalesced under Launch McAllen. Through this initiative, we are developing economic opportunity, driving innovation, and helping to build an ecosystem that will help to encourage the growth of local business.

Let’s take a look at some of the programs that fall under Launch McAllen and how they are changing the local economic landscape. To assist the business community, the Chamber has broken down the program into smaller steps – beginning with developing an idea.

Launch McAllen Programs & Initiatives

I. COMING UP WITH AN IDEA

First on the list is IDEAPLACE. This program is made of multiple sessions which help to take entrepreneurs and would-be inventors from napkin drawing to market space. The initiative is a free 8-week program held at the McAllen Creative Incubator with innovators and inventors coming together to develop and explore ideas. The sessions consist of:

  • Product research.
  • Defining customers.
  • Understanding market space and categories.
  • Financial opportunities and obstacles.
  • Importance of distribution.
  • Developing a pitch.

Individuals interested in participating in IDEAPLACE must attend every meeting held during the eight weeks.

II. DESIGNING A MODEL

DESIGNPLACE is a prototype development space created in 2016 when the McAllen Chamber of Commerce entered into an agreement with South Texas College (STC) to help inventors and entrepreneurs construct prototypes of their products. Those who are chosen to take advantage of this initiative are supported by the college’s Advanced Manufacturing and Architectural and Engineering Design Technology Program. The process is as follows:

  • Inventor/entrepreneur working with the Chamber checks the feasibility of creating their product.
  • Chamber will advocate on your behalf to STC; a meeting will be set.
  • Inventor/entrepreneur meets with STC; work begins on design.
  • Final design is created and a CAD blueprint provided to you for future use.
  • 3D design created (if feasible).

III. CROWDFUNDING CATAPULT

Understandably, inventors need financial support. That’s where creating a crowdfunding campaign comes into play. Through the Crowdfunding Catapult program, innovators are guided in the creation of a crowdfunding campaign to request money for their specific cause or project. In most of the projects, people who donate will receive rewards such as the finished product, a t-shirt, or a “thank you note.”

We walk entrepreneurs through the entire process and there is no charge for assistance, but you will need to participate in a venture/product assessment to define the maturity of the idea.

IV. INNOVATION GRANT AWARD

The Innovation Grant Award offered by the McAllen Chamber of Commerce is designed to encourage product innovation and business creation in the McAllen trade area. An innovator, inventor, or entrepreneur may apply for up to $10,000 in funding to establish, expand, develop, or advance a business product idea.

The innovation grant award is held as a competition and winners are chosen based on the strongest product, presentation, and potential to be a success.

If you would like more details, please see the official 2019 rules here.

Please be aware that the due date for submitting all info to participate in the Innovation Grant Award challenge must be submitted no later than 4:30 p.m. on May 10th.  

V. BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITION

This competition is designed to replicate the real-world experiences of entrepreneurs and inventors soliciting start-up funds from investors and venture capital firms. This competition brings out the best of McAllen and Rio Grande Valley innovators who all work diligently to create an outstanding business plan. The winner of this competition receives a $7,500 prize to bring their product or idea to life.

You can learn more about the rules here.

Please be aware that the due date for submitting all info to participate in the Business Plan Competition must be submitted no later than 4:30 p.m. on May 24th.

VI. ADDITIONAL PROGRAMS & INITIATIVES

Alongside the previously mentioned resources, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce also supports:

  • TheGoodPitch Competition
  • TechPlace
  • Thirdplace on the 2nd Floor
  • VirtualPlace
  • 1 Million Cups (1MC)
  • The I&E Network Meeting
  • The Latino Hope Network
  • McAllen Food Truck Park
  • Lemonade Day
  • Entrepreneur Summit

The Importance of Local Business

The importance of small businesses and local businesses cannot be overstated. This is a thriving sector of the economy that employs millions of people nationally and brings in millions of dollars to local economies all throughout the United States.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy:

  • There are 30.2 million small businesses in the United States.
  • These companies employed 58.9 million individuals or about 47.5% of all U.S. employees in 2015.
  • There are 8 million minority-owned businesses.
  • Small businesses created 1.9 million net jobs in 2015.

Additionally:

  • Small businesses help local economies by stimulating growth and innovation. A talented and educated workforce is drawn in by innovation and help to further propel quality of life in cities like McAllen.
  • Small businesses are a boon for sales tax collection. The money collected goes to improving the community through various infrastructure projects that ultimately benefit these same businesses in return.
  • Successful small businesses generate property tax revenue for local governments. In certain communities, this can help to improve property values in general, providing homeowner’s a higher return on their investment.
  • Small businesses play a significant role in job creation in the United States; not only that but they are creating jobs that provide a higher level of job satisfaction.

 

It is our intention at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce to create a vibrant and thriving local business community through Launch McAllen.

If you’d like more information or have any questions about Launch McAllen, contact us today at (956) 682-2871.