News Release

New data: UTSA economic development institute added $2.6 billion to Texas’ economy

The Valdez Institute for Economic Development (VIED) at UTSA generated an overall direct economic impact of $2.6 billion for the Texas economy in 2023

Business Announcement

University of Texas at San Antonio

UTSA Economic Development


Local business Division Laundry & Cleaners worked with the Valdez Institute for Economic Development's San Antonio MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Center.

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Credit: UTSA

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS — The Valdez Institute for Economic Development (VIED) at UTSA generated an overall direct economic impact of $2.6 billion for the Texas economy in 2023, according to the organization’s 2023 annual report, which was released Tuesday. 

The latest figure represents the work of the institute’s portfolio of time-tested economic development strategies and new innovations that enabled business owners and entrepreneurs to start and grow their small businesses.

During the 2023 fiscal year, the institute:

  • Served 41,231 business and community clients
  • Helped entrepreneurs establish 545 new business ventures
  • Assisted in scaling up 914 existing businesses
  • Created 4,042 jobs and retained 7,934 jobs
  • Provided trainings and workshops to 29,665 participants
  • Completed 7,811 consultations with area businesses

“The Valdez Institute for Economic Development is a prime example of how UTSA is strengthening Texas’ economy. Its work with entrepreneurs across South and West Texas is creating jobs and improving the quality of life for individuals and their families, which in turn is creating revenue for our state,” said JoAnn Browning, UTSA interim vice president for research.

The VIED is part of the UTSA Office of Research. Established in 1979, the institute is home to 10 centers that facilitate economic, community and business development. Since its inception, the institute has helped establish over 6,500 businesses and create more than 70,000 jobs in Texas. It is also the sole agent of the federal government to help replicate the proven methodology of small business development in more than two dozen countries around the world.

The UTSA VIED is unique among U.S. universities in its economic development approach. It receives federal, state and local support for a carefully curated combination of centers and programs that serve startups, existing businesses and policymakers seeking strategic economic growth. Its advisors work locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

While each center has a focused outcome target, the intentional one-stop, synergistic approach of co-locating the centers enables UTSA to better serve all of the institute’s clients.

The VIED offers low or no-cost training, advising, market research, target audience analysis, access to capital, lab-to-market technology transfer, business startups, and new export market discovery. It also connects with and amplifies the work of UTSA students, faculty and researchers through partnerships with the business community, municipal organizations and technology accelerators.

In 2023, the institute advised EMPIRI Inc., a Houston-based firm that has made significant contributions to the advancement of cancer care, from drug development to personalized patient care.

EMPIRI worked closely with advisors in the institute’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Technology Commercialization Center and was able to develop and win a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation, which helps small businesses advance applied research and development and innovation for mankind. Advisors at the center provided expertise to Empiri that was crucial to the competitive proposal it filed for a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation. Empiri secured the grant.

Additionally, the SBDC helped EMPIRI negotiate a better indirect rate on a National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute grant it had been awarded in collaboration with Houston Methodist Research Institute and the MD Anderson Cancer Center.

This applied research and development funding has been critical for the generation of novel cancer treatment innovations that benefit patients.

“The institute’s partnership has not only recognized and harnessed our strengths but also positioned us to make significant advancements in the biotech realm,” said Dave Gallup, biomedical engineer and co-founder of EMPIRI.

Rod McSherry, UTSA associate vice president for innovation and economic development, added, “EMPIRI’s partnership with the Valdez Institute for Economic Development and its accompanying success demonstrate the daily innovation and achievement taking place at the institute. Our team is laser-focused on strengthening Texas’ economy by accelerating the growth of our state’s small businesses.”

Texas is well known for the Fortune 500 companies that locate in the state, however according to the Texas Economic Development Corp, 99.8% of the state's 3.1 million businesses are small businesses. Hispanic and minority-owned businesses account for more than two million employees.

Division Laundry & Cleaners tapped the VIED to explore new growth opportunities. The company is a third-generation family business, founded in San Antonio 85 years ago on the city’s historic West Side with a $100 investment.

Division Laundry’s owners worked with the VIED’s San Antonio MBDA Advanced Manufacturing Center, funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA ) to obtain help with its expansion into new markets across the United States. With UTSA’s counsel, Division Laundry has maintained sales, accessed new capital, and created jobs.

The VIED is also helping Division Laundry connect with the SBA with the goal to obtain a Defense Health Agency (DHA) enterprise contract that would span multiple states. The DHA is currently working to secure a national contract with one laundry supplier. Division is one of seven businesses in the running for the contract.

"Our advisor at the institute, Charles Castro, has helped open so many doors for us. We’re growing into new markets, new states and new partnerships that we would not typically have easy access to,” said Patrick Garcia Jr., chief financial officer of Division Laundry & Cleaners. “These new connections could lead to some significant growth for us. It’s been so beneficial for us to have a valuable partner like UTSA on our side.”

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