It was one of five grants adding up to $50,000 announced by the Mission Economic Development Corporation at Tuesday’s meeting. Through the program, the corporation hands out up to $100,000 annually in two rounds to encourage entrepreneurial ventures.
Since the program started, the city has handed out $182,000 to local business owners. In this round, grants went both to new entrepreneurs as well as established businesses in Mission.
“We’ve definitely seen a lot of growth in this city in regards to the entrepreneurial spirit,” said Daniel Silva, who heads the program for the MEDC.
Gabriel De La Garza opened Jitterz on Conway Avenue 11 years ago. He already spent a lot of time making coffee and treats for guests at his house, and friends urged him to start his own business.
But even after more than a decade in business, De La Garza said he was able to learn a lot through the Ruby Red Ventures program. Through Ruby Red, De La Garza and his wife, Myra, met with an advisor who was able to give them ideas on ways to save money.
The couple plans to use the money on the expansion to the parking lot, which has become cramped since construction started on a retail plaza next door, as well as upgrades to the building and new signs.
“We’ve always believed that our product is great. It’s just informing people and letting them know,” Gabriel De La Garza said. “Hopefully now with the signs and the upgrade, we’ll start getting more people in.”
There were 28 applicants for this round of the Ruby Red Ventures program, and 11 business owners followed through to create and submit business plans. Of those, judges narrowed the field down to five for the grants. Other businesses that received funding were Amartec, $11,500; JDG Jewelers, $11,500; Jera IT Training, $10,000; Joe’s Pressure Washer, $7,000.
The owner of Joe’s Pressure Washer wasn’t at the meeting to accept his plaque, but Daniel Silva, who organizes the MEDC program, said Joe Ivenvera had a good reason. Ivenvera washes trucks for H-E-B and the grocery store contracted him to expand to Laredo and Eagle Pass. Through the Ruby Red Ventures program, Ivenvera was able to get the capital to meet the new H-E-B demand. His son, Jose Ivenvera Jr., accepted the MEDC plaque for the business on his father’s behalf.
Javier Hinojosa, owner of Amartec, said his company does marketing with an emphasis on technology.
It’s the second time Alejandro Rivera earned a grant through Ruby Red Ventures. Last year, he was awarded $15,000 as Ariva Business Center, a virtual office. This year, Rivera’s company, Jera IT training will provide IT training via voiceover IP.
Meanwhile, JDG Jewelers, a downtown Mission merchant, plans to purchase a 3-D printer to cut down on the time it takes to create a piece of jewelry.
“We’re trying to give back to the community that gave us a lot,” said owner Alejandro Neave. “We’re bringing the latest technology in design manufacturing, jewelry printing.”