Q: What is the UHV Center for Regional Collaboration, and what does it do?
A: The University of Houston-Victoria Center for Regional Collaboration, located at UHV Northwest, 1604 E. Airline Road, is a center focused on forming partnerships to promote long-term job growth, economic prosperity and stability in the region. The goal of the center is to bring university resources to area communities and increase awareness about UHV in the region. UHV strives not only to be a source of higher education for the region, but also a place that can offer a variety of resources and professional expertise for the community.
The center was established in October 2019 after the university recognized a need to provide leadership as a regional connector and to serve as a neutral environment for communities and organizations to collaborate. The center also aligns with the university’s goals of community engagement and partnerships. It is led by Director Donald Jirkovsky and Community Development Specialist Heidi Shook. Previously, Jirkovsky was a business advisor for three years for the UHV Small Business Development Center and worked for more than 30 years for the Texas Department of Transportation. Shook has been part of the administration staff for both the center and the SBDC for the past couple of years, and now solely works with Jirkovsky in the center.
Some of the entities that Jirkovsky and Shook work with include schools, businesses, corporations, and government and nonprofit groups. By working with these groups in the community, UHV can help in promoting the educational, economic and cultural development of the region.
So far, the center has teamed up with organizations to work on bringing broadband internet service to communities in DeWitt, Lavaca and Refugio counties for their residents. Because the pandemic caused people to work and attend school from home, having a sufficient internet connection became a critical commodity.
The center linked up with Texas Rural Funders, a coalition of funding organizations that works to bring additional attention and resources to rural Texas communities, and with Connected Nation Texas, an organization that uses data to help communities understand their broadband needs and challenges. That data is being presented to communities to determine what internet services would work best for residents.
The center’s staff also does outreach in the Victoria and Crossroads communities and travels each week to meet with leaders and community members to see how the center can best assist with that community’s goals. Members of the center’s staff also sit on the boards for community organizations to learn more about what is needed in certain areas.
The center sends out a monthly newsletter called The Beacon to its stakeholders to update them on what is going on at UHV, what the center is working on, where staff will be heading next and highlight a person of the month. The center also provides a quarterly newsletter that includes information and resources, such as information for a nonprofit that helps connect volunteer professionals to help other nonprofits on projects. Another example of a resource the center provides information about is Main Street America and how communities can work to revitalize historic downtowns.
Some of the center’s goals include providing a podcast that highlights organizations, nonprofits and businesses in the Crossroads area; offer trainings in areas such as customer service; meet with organizations in the multi-purpose room in UHV Northwest and offer the space for other organizations to use for collaboration; and host regional summits to bring together organizations from around the Crossroads community.
The UHV Center for Regional Collaboration is here to help our communities grow and thrive. Contact the center at 361-485-4949 or email@example.com to learn more.