Non-Prime Mortgage Program

Texas Wildflowers

Texas Top 20 Wildflowers


Spring is in the air. We can start seeing an explosion of different colors on the side of our Texas roads due to wildflowers. The range of flowers will be from bluebonnets, primroses, black-eyed-Susans to firewheels. 

Texas Wildflower Center has come out with a list of top 20 most common wildflowers you’ll see in Texas during spring and summer. Be able to identify these with the list HERE.

Two local parks north of Austin that are great for seeing wildflowers and enjoying the day outdoors are:

Cedar Park’s Brushy Creek Lake Park is a perfect spot for family picnics. The park includes a lake, nature trails, picnic areas, and wildflowers. 

Round Rock has 645 acres that are great for viewing the wildflowers at Old Settlers Park . The park includes spots to barbecue and picnic.

Share your wildflower photos with us so we can share by private messaging our Facebook page.

Add Bluebonnets to your License Plate


Love seeing the blooming bluebonnets on the side of the road. Capture that scene when you put a bluebonnet license plate from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on your vehicle! 

Get a Bluebonnet license plate for your vehicle, trailer or motorcycle for $30*, and $22 of every purchase goes directly to Texas State Parks to help fund educational, cultural and natural resource projects, as well as to preserve the unique natural beauty of the 89 state parks and natural areas across Texas.  The cost will be pro-rated for your next vehicle registration renewal. Order your plate HERE. Or, see for more information.

The bluebonnet is the state flower and symbolizes the natural beauty of Texas. Bluebonnet license plate  helps fund several programs.

Bluebonnet license plates buyers have helped make State Parks more “green” than ever before by providing funds to purchase electric vehicles for use in parks. These battery powered vehicles allow staff to perform campground patrol and maintenance duties quietly and without producing emissions. That’s good for park visitors AND the environment.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department staff and volunteers are leading the effort to educate the public of the important contributions to Texas history made by military units staffed by African-Americans during the period of 1867-1948. The Buffalo Soldiers program brings history to life with stories, costumes and tools to thousands of park visitors and school children each year. Sales of the Bluebonnet license plates help support the Buffalo Soldier Program, and demonstrate the roots of the multi-cultural society that make Texas unique.

The use of fire is an important tool in maintaining the ecosystems in state parks. Safe and effective use of this tool requires the proper equipment for managing wild land fires and protecting employees working on fire lines. Bluebonnet license plate funds have been used to purchase a specialized fire engine to be used for wildfire suppression and implementation of prescribed fires on State Parks across the State.

Amplify Austin

Local generosity movement through Amplify Austin


Amplify Austin Day is a city wide 24 hour online giving initiative. that ignites positive change in the community. This year the Central Texas community collectively raised $12.3 Million for more than 760 local nonprofit organizations!

 The donations meant healthy meals for families in need, new trees and trails in our public spaces, opportunities for local creatives, activities to empower our community’s youth, forever homes for animals, and so much more. 

“Today, I am especially proud to call Central Texas home. Once again, our community met the ambitious Amplify Austin Day challenge. I will never underestimate the power of collective giving around a common cause. Today’s success exemplifies that impact. I am also proud to report that the average gift size increased!” says Courtney Manuel, executive director of I Live Here I Give Here. “Thank you for making today a success and for supporting the critical missions of more than 760 charities. As a next step, I challenge each of you to get to know the nonprofits that you donated to this year and consider getting involved year-round. It’s this generous spirit that makes Central Texas one of the best places to live 365 days a year.”

Skilled worker

Skills Development Fund


The Skills Development Fund is Texas’ premier job-training program providing local customized training opportunities for Texas businesses and workers to increase skill levels and wages of the Texas workforce. The Texas Workforce Commission administers funding for the program. Success is achieved through collaboration among businesses, public community and technical colleges, Workforce Development Boards and economic development partners.

Becoming a Partner

As a Texas employer, you are the focus of the Skills Development Fund. You provide two things — a desire to collaborate with the other partners involved with the project and the commitment to see the project through to completion.

To be considered for a Skills Development Fund grant, the private business, business consortium or trade union must:

  • Partner with an eligible grant applicant, which is a public community or technical college, the Texas Engineering Extension Service, or a private, nonprofit community-based organization in partnership with one of those institutions.
  • Be actively involved in the planning and design of the customized training project.
  • Pay wages to the employees who successfully complete the training program that are equal to or greater than the prevailing wage for the occupation in the local labor market.
  • Disclose any other state or federal grant funds sought or awarded for the proposed training project.
  • Sign an agreement with the grant applicant outlining each entity’s roles and responsibilities in the training project, including reporting requirements related to trainee participation.
  • Provide equal employment opportunity documentation as well as information on the occupations for training, employment benefits, wages and social security numbers for trainees.
  • Use to post openings for new workers trained under the project.

More information HERE.

Find out how Texas’ premier job training program can help your business upgrade the skills of your workforce HERE.


2020 Census


2020 Census count is coming up soon. This data is so important as it determines voting districts, federal funding for schools, infrastructure, social services and every person living in the US (all status, even foreign nationals temporarily working here) is required by law to complete the Census. The less federal funding we receive, the more taxes we will have to raise locally. A lot is at stake in the 2020 Census, and our communities can’t afford an under count. Essential neighborhood resources like street improvements, school lunches for children in need, and housing for seniors and families will all be gained or lost because of the 2020 Census.

We only get one chance every 10 years to count all of our residents. With so many new people moving in and others being forced to move to new parts of town, no Census has ever been more important for Austin and Travis County. This Census count will also help local elected officials inform important decisions and determine federal funding allocations for the next decade.

Important Dates

  • Mar 12-20 Invitations to complete census online mailed
  • Mar 16-24 Reminder letters mailed
  • Mar 26-Apr 3 Reminder postcard mailed
  • Apr 1 Census Day: the count is of how many people there are on this day
  • Apr 8-16 Hard copy of questionnaire if you haven’t responded, mailed
  • Apr 20-27 Final postcards mailed
  • In person follow ups will begin

We are counting on you to help spread the word about the Census too! Click Austin Travis County census website for more information.

Skilled worker

Skills for Small Business for Employers


Through the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Skills for Small Business program, up to $2 million from the Skills Development Fund is dedicated to the backbone of Texas’ business community—our small employers. Small businesses can apply to TWC for training offered by their local community or technical college, or the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX). TWC processes the applications and works with the college to fund the specific courses selected by businesses for their employees.

This exceptional opportunity supports businesses with fewer than 100 employees, and emphasizes training for new workers though it also may help upgrade the skills of incumbent workers.

  • Skills for Small Business emphasizes training newly hired employees, those who have been hired by the business up to twelve months prior to the date that TWC receives an application.
  • The program pays up to $1,800 for each new employee being trained and $900 for existing employees per 12-month period.
  • Funding for training is for full-time employees.
  • All training must be provided by a public community or technical college, or the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX). No third-party vendor training is allowed.
  • Training must be selected from active course catalogs/schedules— credit, continuing education, online or other available unpublished courses.
  • Employers must pay the prevailing wages in the local labor market for the trainees funded under the grant.

How to Apply

  • Identify new or incumbent employees to be trained.
  • Identify each employee’s job/occupational title and corresponding Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) Code. Employers may use the Texas AutoCoder to find the best match between job titles/descriptions and SOC-coded occupations.
  • Identify employee’s wages. Wages must meet or exceed prevailing wage for the area where the business is located.
  • Identify the two-year public community or technical college nearest your location using the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s College Locator.
  • Apply online in the upper right hand corner or complete and submit the application directly to TWC, by email: [email protected] or fax: 512-463-7187.
  • View the Skills for Small Business FAQ for additional information on completing and submitting applications to TWC .

For assistance, contact TWC’s Workforce Business Services staff at 877-463-1777 or [email protected]

For more information click HERE.

Romeo Manzanilla

Meet Romeo Manzanilla, Austin Board of Realtors President and retired U.S. Navy Officer


 Romeo Manzanilla grew up in Los Angeles, California enjoying all of the area’s attractions, events, and fast-paced lifestyle. But after a successful military career as a U.S. Navy Officer, Romeo decided to call Austin home because of its booming economy, scenic beauty and quality of life. While working as an Operations Manager for Dell Computer Corporation, he became involved with Habitat for Humanity, donating his time in assisting with the construction of low-income family housing and working alongside others who freely gave of themselves to improve the lives of those around them. It was this positive experience of giving back to the community that would later mold his decision to become a real estate professional.

Romeo’s unique life experiences while serving in the military and working in both private and corporate organizations have made him a well-rounded person that easily connects with his clients on different levels. His focus on family life with his wife and son has helped him gain a deeper appreciation of spending quality time at home.

Romeo has been an active member of the Austin Board of Realtors since 2006 and has served as a Director for ABoR from 2015-2017 and is the current ABoR President. On the state level, Romeo is a Professional Standards member and Mediator for the Texas Association of Realtors.

Romeo holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern California and a Master of Business Administration degree from Regis University.When not working or volunteering, Romeo admits he’s a motor sports enthusiast and actively participates in organized track events in the Central Texas area.

Nanny Goat Salsa

Locally made Nanny Goat Salsa


After suddenly being laid off from her job of 8 years; LaRicher Parks had a lot of time on her hands. She was looking for ways to keep busy and seriously one could only scrub the tub, floors and toilet so many times. So she decided to refocus her energy  on cooking. She remembered baking a zillion loaves of friendship bread, cookies, cakes, casseroles- you name it. 

She got bored with baking and decided to try her hand at making salsa. After several batches she finally had something worth sharing with family and friends. Her family was eating it faster than she could make the salsa. 

 10 years later, she convinced her husband, who never takes anything to the company potluck, to take a couple of jars of salsa with him to work. After the potluck he called to let me know everyone loved the salsa and several folks offered to pay for more. That evening he came home with a few of orders from his coworkers. Soon after she had a chance to serve the salsa at a local ribbon cutting. After receiving positive feedback from the community they decided to give the salsa business a serious consideration.  Along the way one of LaRicher’s sisters unexpectedly passed away, so in honor of her they named the salsa after her, well her childhood nickname.- Nanny Goat.

The salsa can be purchased in the following flavors original, cilantro lime, or chunky. The salsa can either be ordered online HERE or at local events North East of Austin like the Elgin Farmers Market and Sip Shop and Stroll.

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