Letter from the CEO: Knocked Down But Not Out

Christian at a recent trip climbing to the top and conquering the wall.

HARLINGEN, TEXAS (OCT. 22, 2020) – My eleven-year-old son is amazing!  I know, everyone’s eleven-year-old son is amazing.  I know it’s a matter of perspective.  And I’m sure some of you have some great stories to tell.  I encourage you to get out there and tell those stories because right now, we need to hear them.  We have heard of COVID fatigue.  We are hearing it more and more and will continue to do so until COVID is under control.

Back to my story.  Christian is a small guy for his age.  He has a growth hormone defect and is actually on a hormone treatment plan.  Stuff happens.  His mom is a petite lady and I’m no NFL linebacker either.  So, there you have it – a combination of genes and whatever else we want to call when God hands you a different hand.  You deal with it.

Christian is attending school in person, and the classes are actually rather small.  However, kids do get a chance to interact and I think that helps with their development.  Recently, Christian has been in what some people may say is the wrong place at the wrong time.  Others may call it boys being boys, but some call what’s been going on with him bullying.  Yes, the school people are trying to do what they can to stop the behavior.  And yes, we complain about it not being enough, as any parent would.

On several occasions over the last few weeks, he has gotten pushed down, pinned to the ground, and even had rocks thrown at him.  After all those bumps and bruises, he still wants to go to school and still wants to try to play nice with his “friends”.  He is a strong-willed yet gentle little guy that is so much like the Little Engine That Could.  He is a great example of resiliency.

In her article “What Makes Some People More Resilient Than Others1, Elene Zimmerman stated, “Resilience is the ability to recover from difficult experiences and setbacks, to adapt, move forward and sometimes even experience growth.”  I see my son doing that.  I also see many of our small business owners here in Harlingen doing that right now.

On May 1, 2020, the Harlingen Emergency Loan Program was launched.  It was the brainchild of many people who understood that our small businesses were being beaten up and pushed down through no fault of their own.  It was the local government’s way of saying we can’t wait for the state or the federal government to take care of those who are hurting because if we do, it could be too late.  And so, we started a no-interest loan program using local funds to help small businesses who demonstrated that they had been bullied by an ugly virus.

I’ve learned so much from listening to these small business owners.  The stories of hope and optimism abound.  Like my Christian, they know they will bounce back and make their lives better.  I’m glad HEDC and the City of Harlingen helped 52 small business owners as they struggle and fight to keep their businesses going.  I am happy to see that these businesses have retained over 400 existing jobs here in Harlingen.  Way to go!

HEDC won’t stop with just lending funds.  We plan on monitoring these 52 businesses over the next few years and we will help promote them and others here in Harlingen.  We will continue to fund and sponsor entrepreneurship training courses like UTRGV’s Kaufmann FastTrac.  We will continue to do webinars promoting the businesses and webinars teaching new skills for the digital world we now live in, and much more.

Small business owners are resilient.  And we are here to help them when we can.

1Source:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/18/health/resilience-relationships-trauma.html

A version of this article appears in print on June 21, 2020, Section D, Page 3 of the New York edition of The New York Times with the headline: Build Your Resilience Toolbox