U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, partnered with economic groups in Hidalgo and Starr counties Friday morning to host Access to Capital, a resource fair and financing forum for small businesses, at the South Texas College campus in Rio Grande City.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy,” Cuellar said in a news release issued Friday. “It is a pleasure to work with the Small Business Administration and the Small Business Development Center to coordinate events such as Access to Capital to bring together business owners, federal agencies and constituents interested in starting their entrepreneurial career.”

The free event helped people “looking to start or expand their business” in the two counties “learn more about federal and private financing opportunities,” the release read. The purpose was to promote financing resources available to local business owners.

“I understand how difficult it can be to comply with burdensome regulations while staying afloat,” Cuellar said in the release. “The need for credit to keep your doors open and support your employees’ jobs is also critical.”

The release expanded on Cuellar’s efforts at a congressional level to help small business owners in the Rio Grande Valley. He hopes his actions will support those at the event and others in similar situations.

“This year, I helped secure funding that will help eliminate heavy burdens and increase job growth in the 28th district,” Cuellar said. “It will also alleviate regulations on small financial institutions, increase trade with other countries and lower prices for consumer goods.”

The groups Cuellar partnered with were the UTRGV Small Business Development Center, Starr County Industrial Foundation, Rio Grande City Economic Development Corporation, Rio Grande Public Library and the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Cuellar said he has a personal connection to the event, and his experiences enable him to create effective programs within the community.

“As a former small business owner, I know the challenges of opening a business, including finding the resources and funds to get started, and how to keep the business running,” Cuellar said. “This is why the Access to Capital event is so crucial. Having exposure to different resources, such as federal funding and counseling, is key.”