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Texas Rural Challenge

Texas Rural Challenge

The Texas Rural Challenge features a wide range of best practices, collaboration opportunities, and ‘how-to’ learning experiences aimed at putting your big ideas into practice. The Texas Rural Challenge focuses on business and economic development, community development, and rural issues, with presentations and workshops by top innovators and change agents from across state and federal agencies and the private sector. The conference is hosted by the UTSA Institute for Economic Development – SBDC Rural Business Program and the Office of the Governor and is the largest event of its kind to focus on rural Texans and their communities.


Nominate a TRC Speaker

Nominations are open for keynote and session speakers for the 8th Annual Texas Rural Challenge, June 29-30, 2017, Waco, TX. Nominations will be accepted through January 31, 2017. Please click on the link below to submit a nomination:


Enter the Texas Student Challenge

Challenge Submission Dates
Full Business Plan Due: May 22, 2017
Presentations: June 29, 2017

The Texas Student Challenge (TSC) is a business plan competition held to encourage entrepreneurship and technological innovation among students in the State of Texas. As a part of the Texas Rural Challenge (TRC), hosted by the Office of the Governor and UTSA’s Institute for Economic Development—SBDC Rural Business Program, the TSC aims to foster high-quality business ventures and innovative technologies that will benefit rural communities through community and economic development. The competition is open to undergraduate and graduate students, of any major, attending a Texas college or university. In addition to a monetary prize, they will receive in-kind services from the Small Business Development Center Network to make your venture a reality!

Application Guidelines: Students must submit their executive summary by April 28, 2017 and will be notified by May 10, 2017 if they are selected to present their business plan at the Texas Rural Challenge in Waco.

For additional information refer to the following form: 2017 TSC Complete Rules

Email us directly with your questions to: Texas Student Challenge Email

Enter the Texas Strong Competition

The Texas Rural Challenge features a wide range of best practices, collaboration opportunities, and ‘how-to’ learning experiences aimed at putting your big ideas into practice and will include a competition that your SBDC office, advisors and clients may be interested in: Texas Strong.

The Texas Strong Committee is looking for SBDC clients from across the great state of Texas who, with the help of their local SBDC, have developed innovative products or services that could potentially benefit rural Texas communities.

Eight finalists, two from each SBDC network in Texas,* will be selected as the “Best of Texas Strong” and invited to compete in a fast-pitch competition for cash prizes. Amounts vary based on sponsorships.

The finalists will also have the chance to win a Governor’s Small Business Award. Winners are selected by the Governor’s Office and the selection process is separate from the Texas Strong Fast Pitch Competition.

Nominations and Judging

  • Complete the Texas Strong Nomination Form
  • Deadline to submit nominations is April 28, 2017
  • Finalists & SBDC advisors notified by May 15, 2017
  • Nominations will be accepted from ALL SBDC OFFICES in the state of Texas
  • The Texas Strong Committee will judge and rank each submission based on the following selection criteria:
    • 20 points – Innovation: the uniqueness of the product or service, pending or issued patents, etc.
    • 20 points – Environmental Impact: sustainable, renewable, recycled, energy-efficient
    • 20 points – Relevance to Rural Communities and Markets: business located in rural area and providing jobs in rural communities, product or service focused on rural markets, etc.
    • 20 points – Market Validation: business has demonstrated traction in the local or regional market
    • 20 points – Social Good: business model includes a philanthropic element or community involvement

Please note that applicants are not expected to meet ALL criteria to be nominated, but the more points they earn, the better their chance of being selected.

The fast-pitch competition will be held in a breakout session with Texas Strong Committee members and interested attendees. The winner of the competition will have the opportunity to make their pitch at the closing session. Once finalists are selected, we ask for the following: two high resolution (min. 1MB, 300dpi) images of product/services, logo and photo of business owner.

*Registration procedures will be discussed with each finalist. If one or more of the SBDC networks does not submit at least two nominations, the committee reserves the right to select from the entire pool of nominations. Travel cost & hotel accommodations are the responsibility of the finalist*


Rural Business Program

UTSA’s Rural Business Program is a specialty center affiliated with the University of Texas San Antonio’s South-West Texas Border Small Business Development Center Network, a 79-county service area that covers the Gulf Coast of Texas as well as South and West Texas. Rural communities in the network area have been principally agricultural based.

Today, rural communities are dealing with job loss, population loss, declining tax base, and loss of youth impacting the potential for the future leadership and innovation. Our focus is to help reverse these trends by providing rural communities and small to medium-sized business with technical assistance to help them grow, develop and create new jobs.

Texas Rural
The TRC features a wide range of best practices, collaboration opportunities, and ‘how-to’ learning experiences aimed at putting ideas into practice.

Municipal Capacity
This program of approximately five sessions targets community leaders, elected officials, and local government employees of rural communities.

La Vernia Downtown District Plan

La Vernia Downtown District Plan

A vision for revitalization and economic development.


Project Sponsor: City of La Vernia
Collaborators: La Vernia City Council – La Vernia Municipal Development District – La Vernia Planning and Zoning Committee – City of La Vernia Staff – Central Business District Advisory Committee – UTSA Institute for Economic Development – UTSA Rural Business Program – UTSA College of Architecture, Center for Urban and Regional Planning Research
Completed: November 2013

Download Project

This report presents a vision plan for the Downtown District of La Vernia, Texas and its primary market area in order to assist the community in its efforts to promote long-term sustainable economic growth while maintaining and enhancing its historical small-town ambiance. The proposals set forth in this Vision Plan also set the stage for the La Vernia community to take full advantage of its location between the growing San Antonio metropolitan area to the north and west and the thriving Eagle Ford Shale oil and gas developments to the south and east. The plan also includes a business/economic assessment and an economic gap analysis to target new investment opportunities in the La Vernia primary and secondary
market areas.