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Mission EDC to hold first Innovation Summit

Residents interested in changing the world through technology and exchanging ideas can do so next week in the city of Mission.

The Mission Economic Development Corporation, in partnership with the San Antonio-based company Cityflag, will host the city’s first ever Civic Innovation Summit Thursday, Feb. 22.

20180216 CivicSummitThe all-day event, which will be housed at the Mission Center for Education and Economic Development at 801 N. Bryan Rd., is a conference that will focus on how civic engagement, economic development, technology and education can push progress in the region, Mission EDC Program Director Cristina Garza said.

“It is a conference for people who care about the future of the Rio Grande Valley,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for people to hear from renowned speakers from all over the country and to have a space to exchange ideas. We can look at new models for economic development, see new ways in which other cities have implemented technology to make communication with their citizens easier, learn about different models in which people are using technology like virtual reality to attract tourism and more.”

Mission EDC Chief Executive Officer Alex Meade said the summit provides a forum for new civic ideas and discussing technology-based solutions, which is the kind of pioneering conference the Mission EDC wants to be involved in.

“Technology has claimed a position in almost every corner of society, and we would be remised not to include it in our approach to solve civic challenges and improve our lives,” said Meade. “We need conferences like these to bring people and ideas together, and we are happy to team up with Cityflag to offer the RGV a unique conference that will have something for everyone.”

Among the speakers set for the event are Mark Madrid, the head of Latino entrepreneurship at Stanford Business School, Chelsea Collier, founder of the smart city technology policy platform Digi.City, Lorenzo Gomez, chairman of the San Antonio-based coworking space Geekdom, Michael Henderson, project manager at the City of Austin Innovation Office, Daniel Lucio, community impact manager at Google Fiber, Natalie Campos Goodman, Co-founder green projects database Green Money Search.

Also included is Mission native Alberto Altamirano, Cityflag’s CEO whose company is currently Mission EDC’s expert-in-residence. Last fall, the 28-year-old was listed as one of Forbe’s “30 under 30” social entrepreneurs.

In a statement, Altamirano said a civic innovation revolution is taking place in Texas cities and elsewhere.

“That means using new technologies and design methods to bring efficiency to government and power to citizens,” Altamirano said. “The Mission EDC Civic Innovation Summit is about bringing together forward thinkers and creative minds to discuss solutions to the 21st century challenges. Cityflag is excited to participate as a collaborator of the event.”

Tickets to the event are currently $125, but Garza argues that price is a bargain.

“Similar summits in bigger cities like in Silicon Valley or Austin’s South by Southwest charge up to $1,200 to attend a summit like this,” she explained. “What we’re offering is the same type of caliber of speakers to the Valley so anyone can meet and interact with them at a much lower cost.”

For Garza, the summit is a way to support the area as residents will benefit from the ideas shared there.

“We’ve always invested in the professional development of our residents and that means giving them an opportunity to learn about what other people are doing,” she said. “It’s why people attend conferences, to be inspired by what’s happening in the country. In order for us to move forward, we need to rustle up some feathers and throw some ideas out there that haven’t been heard in the Valley and that can only be done in spaces like this. We can’t expect people in the Rio Grande Valley to create change if we’re not there to support them.”

A schedule of the event, as well as tickets and registration information for the all-day Civic Innovation Summit can be found at http://www.civicinnovationsummit.com.

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