BBVA Compass, which has channeled $79 million in community development loans and investments in rural Texas communities since 2015, was honored with a Rural Matters award last month at the Texas Rural Challenge.
The Texas Rural Challenge is the largest state event of its kind, focusing on business and economic development, community development and statewide issues including energy and health care access in the state’s rural communities. The conference, which had more than 300 attendees from over 90 cities across the state, is hosted annually by the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Small Business Development Center Rural Business Program and the Office of the Governor. The conference’s steering committee selected BBVA Compass and four other organizations as recipients of the inaugural Rural Matters awards on the strength of their efforts to serve rural Texas.
“This award is particularly meaningful to BBVA Compass because our purpose is to create opportunities for brighter futures for all people,” said BBVA Compass Waco City President J.D. King, who accepted the award on behalf of the bank at an evening reception during the conference at the Waco suspension bridge. “Let me underscore that last part: all people. It’s not just those in big cities or their suburbs, but everyone. It’s why we actively look for ways to support our rural communities.”
One of those initiatives is BBVA Compass’ sponsorship of the strategic plan and feasibility study that ultimately led to the Pharr Life Net pilot program in Pharr, Texas. The program is giving 50 families in the border community broadband access and bilingual training and technical support, with an additional 250 homes to receive broadband internet in the coming months. The bank’s investment — it is the largest corporate sponsor of the strategic plan and feasibility study — was spurred by research by BBVA Compass economists that found internet access to be the dominant factor in financial inclusion, and that the McAllen area, of which Pharr is part, was ranked last among 250 cities for financial inclusion levels.
BBVA Compass’ interest and investment is making rural Texas more competitive and sustainable. But, more importantly, it’s restoring hope and opportunity for rural Texans.
The BBVA Compass Foundation also awarded a $50,000 grant in 2016 to the Housing Assistance Council, whose mission is to improve housing conditions for the rural poor.
“BBVA Compass’ interest and investment is making rural Texas more competitive and sustainable,” said Gil Gonzalez, director of the SBDC Rural Business Program at the University of Texas at San Antonio. “But, more importantly, it’s restoring hope and opportunity for rural Texans.”
UTSA’s SBDC Rural Business Program is a specialty center affiliated with the university’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. The program’s focus is to provide rural communities and small to medium-sized businesses with technical assistance to help them grow, develop and create new jobs across the state’s rural areas.