Sepcial to Texas Border Business South Texas College will lead the development of a new $3.5 million project to build and operate a Rural Technology Center in Starr County . Texas House Bill 2235 established a grant program under the Office of Rural Community Affairs to fund the construction and equipping of rural technology center in Starr and Zapata counties.
The center will offer the opportunity to learn about a variety of information technology from basic computer skills, to Internet and wireless technology, to advanced courses and seminars on Web design, graphic design, multimedia development, computer maintenance and computer aided drafting and design. Local school districts will have an opportunity to participate in dual enrollment courses in the area of information technology and the development of a Dual Enrollment Information Technology Academy . In addition, the local schools will be encouraged to utilize the Center to enhance the preparation of students interested in fields related to information technology. "If there is anything we can attribute to perseverance, this project is a great example," said Manuel Benavidez Jr., founding member of STC's Board of Trustees.
"After being told no for more than seven years from so many different people and organizations, we just decided not to take no for a final answer. There is a desperate need for this kind of facility in Starr County and so we persisted. We thank everyone who contributed to the success of HB 2235 to approve the funding of this project. It is only through team work that we are able to accomplish so much." HB 2235 was carried by State Representative Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City , during the 80th Legislative session, and had been carried by Representative Ismael "Kino" Flores, D-Palmview, in previous sessions.
"Opening doors to a better future for south Texas students and their families is a duty that I take seriously and passing and funding HB 2235 was part of that duty. I look forward to working closely with STC president Dr. Shirley A. Reed, the staff at STC and local officials to provide this advanced training," said Rep. Ryan Guillen after a private signing ceremony for HB 2235 at the Texas capital last week. The development of a Rural Technology Center with an infrastructure of hardware, software, wireless technology, high speed internet connections, coupled with learning and training modules in the area of information technology, dual credit information technology programs, and entry level job skills training awards in technological disciplines can create a vehicle for economic development, better paying jobs and community collaboration. South Texas College will lead the project and coordinate with local public schools, libraries, learning centers, community groups and businesses to ensure that the center is accessible and offers the needed courses, technologies and materials.
The college will offer a variety of information technology-related courses and programs at the center, in particular, courses that high school students can take for dual enrollment, which gives students both high school and college credit. "More than 35 percent of Starr County 's population is 18 years old or younger and these students need access to cutting-edge technology that will put their knowledge-base on par with other students in large metropolitan areas. That is the point of this facility â to provide students with a cutting edge advantage," said STC president Dr. Shirley A. Reed. "We hope to offers a variety of credit and non-credit courses to students and the community. We also hope to build labs that will be available to the community to use computer technology and the Internet. These are invaluable tools and with the median annual household income just at $16,500 dollars, we know that many families do not have a computer or Internet access at home."
A Rural Technology Center in Starr County serving K-12 education and adult learning through an empowered community will accomplish the following: Awareness of career fields in the area of information technology for public school students and members of the community, career pathways leading to employment in these fields, continuing education for those seeking careers in these fields or for professionals seeking advancement in the same, targeted workshops and dual enrollment in the area of information technologies, and the development of the infrastructure required by a rural community to improve its economic status. Once complete, the 22,000 square foot facility will provide space for Internet-connected classrooms, computer aided drafting labs, a graphic arts lab, a network administration lab, a Web page design lab, telecommunications technology labs, computer maintenance labs and areas for a variety of other information technology-related tools and instruction. The state of Texas has provided $3.5 million in state appropriations to fund the center's construction and initial technology purchase costs. STC will fund the center's annual operating costs.