This article originally appeared in the Friday Nov. 1, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.
After kicking off last year, the Information Technology Association, headquartered in Mission’s CEED building, held their latest meeting Friday, Oct. 25, with a special guest.
ITA is a non-profit corporation specialized in providing academic, professional development, and experiential learning opportunities to information technology professionals, IT-oriented entrepreneurs, IT economic development professionals, our community, and other stakeholders, according to the company website.
“It’s almost like an economic development corporation, we work with the Mission EDC and are now starting to work with the chamber of commerce and institutions of higher education to basically pursue a common purpose of helping IT development in the region,” explained Andy Garcia, ITA executive director. “We’re planning on developing IT infrastructure in the region by educating individuals and helping them obtain credentials needed in the field.”
Garcia said ITA kicked off August of last year under a different name- the South Texas Information Technology Association. He said it was created in part because of the success of the Mission EDC’s CyberMission program, a cybersecurity boot camp where students enroll to train in the IT field.
“They had a lot of students who didn’t know what to do with those credentials afterward,” Garcia recalled. “The answer we provided is keeping these smart individuals in the Valley to develop infrastructure down here for more IT.”
At their monthly meetings, ITA members receive many networking opportunities with professionals to create collaborations with local businesses.
“For the past year we’ve actually started collaborating with police departments like the Mission pd to provide free cameras in select neighborhoods to capture any violations to help keep the neighborhood safe,” Garcia said. “We do a lot of development activities at UTRGV and the UTRGV McAllen teaching center. We filled a void for learning gaps as the application of these skills is what’s key to becoming an informational technology professional. So, when you actually go out there to put this to use, we assist. That’s what we’re about.”
For their meeting last week, ITA members were greeted with a presentation by Juan Fernandez, a public speaker with experience in the IT field and who sits on the board for CompTIA, the company partnering with the Mission EDC for their CyberMission boot camp.
“Just like my grandpa told me a long time ago, if you work hard, and work smart, you will figure it out,” Fernandez told attendees at the meeting. “Hopefully me being here today is a testament of you being able to do the exact same thing I’ve done to be successful because I have that same faith in you that I had in myself. You guys can do this, be successful, do everything you can to educate yourself on your own craft, become your own business, person, believe you can do it no matter what anyone says.”
ITA is growing with plans to open an office in San Antonio.
“Eventually we’ll be all over the state,” Garcia said.
More information on ITA can be found on their website ITASSN.org.