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      Brownsville Grant Department banking on opportunites

      Stephanie Reyes is the Director of the Grants Management Office for the City of Brownsville.

      With the help of just three other employees, the office has clinched nearly $6.5 million in grants in just one year.

      We finally found a funding source and now we're going to pursue that," Reyes said.

      That grant money has gone towards many city projects like the new downtown multi-modal bus station, renovation of the city hall and about one million dollars went to the Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport.

      Reyes said it takes time and research to capitalize on free money.

      "There are many free search agents that exist on the internet, the city actually pays for one|it's a great program, Reyes said. We're able to key-in the type of projects that we're looking to fund|and once we get them, writing the grant is like any research paper. The important thing is that we have those projects in place already.

      City Manager Charlie Cabler said grants have and will always be needed to help improve city infrastructure and the quality of life of Brownsville TMs citizens.

      "Obviously it brings funds to our city without having to stress our community with issues relating to funding taxes or things like that," Cabler said.

      Reyes said besides having the project in place, the city must also show that there is a need for the grant they TMre applying for, and that they intend to use the funds to meet that specific need.

      "There's many (needs and type of grants), Reyes said. There's the Department of Education that we could work with - we work with (Brownsville Independent School District) to collaborate. The Department of Energy is one we're in really great standing with. (They TMve given) us money to retrofit our traffic signal lights (and) retrofit our city buildings."

      Cabler said with the money they're awarded comes great responsibility. The Office of Grant Management has to make sure to keep the city in good standings with the granting agencies and that they keep their end of the deal.