Mission EDC entrepreneurship program creates small business opportunities

The Mission Economic Development Corporation’s small business development program, Ruby Red Ventures, named three new winners of its small business funding competition.

An all-natural, cold-pressed juice producer, a maker of pre-packaged Mexican stews and meals and manufacturer of gourmet grilling sauces are the recipients of funding after claiming the top three spots in the business competition of Ruby Red Ventures. The small businesses went through the four-month long small business development program – in collaboration with UTRGV’s Small Business Development Center – and then pitched their ideas to a committee much like in the show Shark Tank. The winners were announced on August 21.

“Ruby Red Ventures is doing exactly what we’ve wanted it to do: develop and nurture small business opportunities in the City of Mission,” said Mission EDC CEO Alex Meade. “We’ve awarded $600,000 to nearly 40 small businesses since the program started six years ago. These businesses, in turn, have created jobs and made capital investments here in Mission.”

The Mission EDC typically funds several small entrepreneurs annually in two cycles through the Ruby Red program. With August’s group, the Mission EDC has invested in 37 local enterprises since 2013.

This round of funding included: § First place $25,000 winner: Mr. Pepe, a manufacturer of gourmet grilling sauces, is owned by Jose Luis Lopez and Heidi Lopez. They will use funding to redesign product bottle. § Second place $15,000 winner: El Cazos Guisos, a maker of pre-packaged Mexican meals and stews, is owned by Alejandro Chavez. He will use funding to increase production. § Third place $10,000 winner: B. Veggie, a producer of natural fruit and vegetable juices using cold press technology, is owned by Maribeny Jenis. She will use the funds on a manufacturing facility. In addition to the winners, dozens more program applicants went through the rigorous business plan development process, with assistance from the Mission EDC and the UTRGV Small Business Development Center.

Plans are then turned into completed proposals, which are then graded. Business plans that make the grade are then pitched by the entrepreneur to a special committee Shark Tank style.

The committee picks the winners after all presentations are complete. Funding is a grant and not a loan; however, if funds are not used as defined in the business plan, funds must be repaid.

Additionally, the Ruby Red Ventures funding cannot be the entrepreneur’s sole source of capital. There are two rounds of funding per year. The next round will take place in the spring of next year. For more information contact Alex Meade at the Mission EDC at 956.585.0040.