JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) — The next phase of Microsoft Corporation’s TechSpark program is ready to roll in the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez area.
The first phase concluded last summer with managers and entrepreneurs from 10 companies graduating from the Bridge Accelerator program. The second phase begins Feb. 4 with a new 12-week class meant to turn a dozen new businesses into border manufacturing industry providers or entrepreneurs who can take advantage, on their own. of changing global business trends.
The initial TechSpark class participants brokered $1.5 million in sales and created 33 new jobs, said Rudy Vazquez, chief industry officer at Juarez’s Technology Hub, which manages the program here.
He said many small to medium-sized companies on both sides of the border already have the skills and tools to become providers for global companies — such as the 400 or so foreign-run maquiladora plants in Juarez — but haven’t been taught to optimize them.
“We review proficiencies in basic skills as a company, then they’ll learn to adjust their business model, to discover how to use the tools they already have to become more agile, more efficient and to apply them to new opportunities,” Vazquez said.
Microsoft last year funded a pilot program and has since committed to a three-year $1.5 million investment likely to benefit more than 80 companies in Juarez, El Paso and Las Cruces, New Mexico. The program provides classes on new technical capabilities, speakers and networking within the automotive, electronics and biomedical fields, among others.
Applications are being accepted through Jan. 22 for the new class that kicks off the week of Feb. 4. Half of the participants will be from Mexico, half from the United States, Vazquez said.
To participate, companies must have been in business for at least two years, be based on the Juarez-El Paso-Las Cruces area, have had some previous dealings with manufacturers at some level, and have employees who can attend sessions in El Paso (U.S.A.) or Juarez (Mexico).Have operations in the Paso del Norte region.
For more information on the Bridge Accelerator program, visit tb-xl.com.