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Texas A&M renews collaboration with RVP, pledges $350,000 annually in funding

Texas A&M University has renewed and expanded its collaboration with the Research Valley Partnership as a part of its newly redefined economic development strategy. 

While A&M had previously funded the organization with $10,000 per year for strategic planning, the new agreement will see the university elevate its stake to an annual $350,000 as a full funding partner, on par with
Brazos County and the cities of Bryan and College Station.

Along with its financial contributions, A&M also will have two seats on the organization's board of directors, filled by Associate Vice President for External Affairs Chad Wootton and Vice President for Economic Development Andrew Morriss.

University President Michael K. Young said the decision to once again partner with the organization aligned with a shift in the RVP as well.

"Over the past year and a half or so, there has been some change in their focus with a certain realization: This is a wonderful place for businesses to come, and it's a wonderful place for businesses to be created, but the distinctive part of this community as opposed to so many other communities in Texas really is Texas A&M," Young said. "The current leadership of the RVP really seems quite committed to that notion and, therefore, deeper collaboration with us at a substantive level seems to be their interest and passion, and I think more calculated, in my judgment, to be successful."

In a statement announcing the partnership, RVP President and CEO Matt Prochaska said he sees the move as "a pivotal next step for our community."

"With the university working in unison with community leaders, our value proposition could not be stronger," Prochaska said. "Texas A&M University's engagement will have a direct impact on the projects we are working on and will make it easier to recruit and retain top-quality industry leaders that will change the landscape for research, development, commercialization, and knowledge transfer in the Brazos Valley."

Prochaska was announced as the organization's leader in August following a five-month nationwide search. He replaces former RVP leader Todd McDaniel, who had led the organization since November 2005.
In March, McDaniel informed the organization's board of directors that he intended to leave the position at the end of the year when his contract expired, but the board unanimously voted to terminate his employment agreement effective April 30.

Texas A&M previously cut ties with the organization in May 2016, citing a desire for university leaders to take a more hands-on role in the institution's economic development efforts with local government leaders.
Young said the decision at the time was also made in part because he and his administration felt the two organization's goals were not aligned.

"When I got here, we sort of looked at our participation and realized for the most part under the leadership and the way they were running it at that point in time, it wasn't clear there was much alignment with what we were interested in doing and what the RVP was doing," Young said.Morriss, who also serves as dean of the university's newly created School of Innovation as well as being the university's lead on economic development, said he is excited to be a part of the renewed efforts alongside the RVP to help draw new businesses to the area.
He said with the university and community "moving in the same direction on economic development," he believes the partnership could provide Bryan-College Station with "a real edge."
"I think there is enormous potential because what the community can offer to employers or businesses thinking of locating here is this incredible resource of 68,000 students and all the faculty and staff," Morriss said. "…
I think that has great potential if we can get the message out and communicate effectively to potential businesses that might move to the Bryan-College Station area the resources we have."
Moving ahead, Young said he looks forward to seeing what the partnership can accomplish.