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Edinburg EDC reports that $5.4+ million Edinburg Transit Terminal will have far-reaching benefits not just for city, but throughout region

Featured, from left: Councilmember David Torres; Councilmember Richard Molina; Mayor Richard García; Elías Longoria, Jr., Secretary/Treasurer, Board of Directors, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; Gus García, Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; and Richard Hinojosa, Edinburg City Manager. The area leaders were gathered on Thursday, May 11, 2017, for the groundbreaking of the multi-million dollar Edinburg Transit Terminal. The facility also will serve as the new headquarters for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. The Edinburg EDC, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council, is led by a five-member Board of Directors which features Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Rupert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members. Mayor Richard García and Gus García, who is the Executive Director of the Edinburg EDC, are not related.

Photograph By RONNIE LARRALDE

The promising future for the community continued moving forward on Thursday, May 11, 2017, with the groundbreaking of the multi-million dollar Edinburg Transit Terminal, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. The 15,000-square-foot, two-story complex, located on a 1.2 acre tract donated by the Edinburg EDC, will serve as a home for Valley Metro, which is the publicly-owned bus service for deep South Texas that is administered and operated by the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council. Valley Metro’s increased presence in Edinburg will have far-reaching benefits not just for the city, but throughout the region, according to local and area leaders. One of the many key needs the Edinburg Transit Terminal will fulfill when it opens for business in early 2018 will be to help handle the thousands of vehicles that converge into and near the city’s downtown during the work week.

Artist’s Rendition Courtesy of NEGRETE & KOLAR ARCHITECTS, LLP

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Sweeping reform by Rep. Canales of unfair system that annually jails hundreds of thousands of poor Texans for traffic tickets is signed by Gov. Abbott

Featured: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, looks out at the Texas Capitol grounds in Austin as he handles calls from constituents during a break from legislative debate on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives earlier this spring 2017.

Photograph By HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY

Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday, June 15, 2017, approved House Bill 351 by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, which will help do away with a decades-old injustice which results in hundreds of thousands of Texans going to jail every year because they are too poor to pay fines for traffic tickets and other Class C misdemeanors. HB 351 was one of 12 measures passed by Canales which were approved by the Texas Legislature and the governor following the five-month regular session, which ended on Monday, May 31, 2017. Those 12 now-enacted state laws covered a wide range of issues, from protecting veterans and victims of family violence, to advancing medical education, creating more jobs, and promoting open government. In addition, Canales also served as a joint author or co-author of 24 other bills. The legislator who files a bill and guides it through the legislative process is the author (also called the primary author). The Senate allows multiple primary authors for each bill or resolution. The House of Representatives allows only one primary author, the house member whose signature appears on the original measure and on the copies filed with the chief clerk. Both chambers also have coauthors, and the house of representatives has joint authors. Canales said HB 351 represents a “sweeping reform” of the state’s criminal justice system. “In Texas, at the rate we are going, we were going to eventually be throwing a million poor people in jail every year for failure to pay tickets, fines and fees arising from court cases,” explained the House District 40 lawmaker, who is an attorney. “We have too many Texans statewide who are struggling to pay rent and groceries, then they wind up getting ticketed and getting jailed for the most minor offenses, such as traffic violations.” For Class C misdemeanors, there is no jail time, and the fine is limited up to $500. But a person can be put in jail for not paying the fines, and other related costs, such as failure to appear in court. Canale added that the border of jailing all these people for petty crimes ultimately falls on the shoulders of taxpayers. “This whole system of putting poor people in jail has become a convenient cash cow for our government, which wants to squeeze money out of indigent Texans,” he said. “HB 351 provides a much better way for minor offenders to pay their debt to society without unjustly putting them behind bars.” Canales is the primary author of HB 351 while Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, by carrying HB 351 in the Senate, is the primary sponsor of the legislation. The measure, which won final support in the House of Representatives on a huge, bipartisan vote of 132 Yeas, 11 Nays, and 2 Present, Not Voting.

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Rep. Canales’ plan to do away with “debtors prisons” for poor people who can’t pay traffic fines and other minor offenses approved by Texas Legislature and on its way to Gov. Abbott

Featured: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, and Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins, D-San Antonio, during a meeting at the Capitol of the Jurisprudence Subcommittee on Asset Forfeiture on Wednesday, March 29, 2017.

Photograph By HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY

State lawmakers on Friday, May 26, 2017, approved House Bill 351 by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, which will help do away with a decades-old injustice which results in hundreds of thousands of Texans going to jail every year because they are too poor to pay fines for traffic tickets and other Class C misdemeanors. Canales said HB 351 represents a “sweeping reform” of the state’s criminal justice system. “In Texas, at the rate we are going, we were going to eventually be throwing a million poor people in jail every year for failure to pay tickets, fines and fees arising from court cases,” explained the House District 40 lawmaker, who is an attorney. “We have too many Texans statewide who are struggling to pay rent and groceries, then they wind up getting ticketed and getting jailed for the most minor offenses, such as traffic violations.” For Class C misdemeanors, there is no jail time, and the fine is limited up to $500. But a person can be put in jail for not paying the fines, and other related costs, such as failure to appear in court. Canales added that taxpayers wind up paying more because through the costs it takes to look after people who are in local jails for petty crimes. “This whole system of putting poor people in jail has become a convenient cash cow for our government, who want to squeeze money out of indigent Texans,” he said. “HB 351 provides a much better way for minor offenders to pay their debt to society without unjustly putting them behind bars.” Canales is the primary author of HB 351 while Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, by carrying HB 351 in the Senate, is the primary sponsor of the legislation. Hinojosa, also an attorney, agreed with the need for Canales’ legislation. “Our current system is counter-productive, and it traps people into a cycle of debt when they cannot pay their tickets and other low-level, fine-only citations. Our current practice also leads to license suspensions and arrest warrants,” said Hinojosa. “In 2015, fines in over 677,00 cases were satisfied through jail credit and over 230,000 Texas were unable to renew expired licenses until their fines and fees were paid off.” HB 351 allows courts to ask about a defendant’s ability to pay during the sentencing phase, Hinojosa explained. “After making that determination, courts would be allowed to reduce or waive fines and costs and offer community service as an alternative. In 2015, judges resolved fine-only cases with community service just 1.3 percent of the time,” Hinojosa said. “HB 351 seeks to put the justice system’s time and resources to more efficient use by holding people accountable while saving money and increasing public safety.”

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Edinburg Economic Development Corporation reports $140+ million in construction activities in city during the first four months of 2017

Featured, from left: William Brock, Chief Medical Officer, South Texas Health System; Richard Hinojosa, Edinburg City Manager; Roxanne Godínez, Chief Executive Officer, Cornerstone Regional Hospital; Jennifer Garza, Chief Executive Officer, Edinburg Regional Medical Center/Edinburg Children’s Hospital, and Member, Board of Directors, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; Anthony De Luna, TIS Total Imaging Solutions; Mayor Richard García; Precinct 4 Hidalgo County Commissioner Joseph Palacios; Cat Domian, Chief Nursing Officer, Edinburg Regional Medical Center/Edinburg Children’s Hospital; and Councilmember Richard Molina, Member, Board of Directors, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. The group was on hand on Tuesday, May 23, 2017 for the groundbreaking of the $8.6 million STHS ER (medical emergency room), located in north Edinburg.

Photograph By RONNIE LARRALDE

Days after South Texas Health System held a groundbreaking on Tuesday, May 23, 2017, of its multi-million dollar, stand-alone STHS ER (medical emergency room) to be built in north Edinburg, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation announced that total construction activities in the city reached more than $140 million from January through April 2017, including $23.1 million for the month of April. The year-to-date figure of $140.4 million continues to outperform last year’s pace, when total construction in Edinburg for the first four months of 2016 had reached almost $82.1 million. For the month of April 2017 – the latest figures available from the city – Edinburg saw construction permits issued for work valued at $23,146,234, with multi-family residences and single-family homes leading the way, at $11.8 million and $6.3 million, respectively. The building permits do not include the value of the land for the homes and buildings. Those totals do not include the value of any building-related activities at The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley and the UTRGV School of Medicine in Edinburg because the state government, not the city, oversees all construction at the Edinburg campus. The Edinburg EDC, of which Gus García is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr., as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Ruppert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members. Mayor Richard García and Edinburg EDC Executive Director Gus García are not related.

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Edinburg EDC Board of Directors to review quality-of-life goals and business prospects at noon Tuesday, May 30, 2017 at Edinburg City Hall

Featured: Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, helped salute the estimated 2,401 graduates at the McAllen Convention Center on Saturday, May 13, 2017 as they walked the stage during the Spring 2017 Commencement Ceremonies to accept the degrees they worked so hard for over the years. More than 700 graduates also were honored during an evening ceremony on Friday, May 12, 2017 on the UTRGV Brownsville Campus. A combined total of more than 3,100 UTRGV graduates were celebrated in four ceremonies over a two-day period. Rodríguez is a former member of the Board of Directors for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg Council.

Photograph By PAUL CHOUY

With the month of May featuring graduation ceremonies from local and area high schools, South Texas College and The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, one of the most influential supporters of publication in the Valley – the Board of Directors for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation – will hold its public meeting on Tuesday, May 30, 2017, at Edinburg City Hall. The session, which begins at 12 p.m., will be held at Edinburg City Hall, located at 415 West University Drive. The Edinburg EDC, of which Gus García is the Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr., as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Ruppert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members. Mayor Richard García and Edinburg EDC Executive Director Gus García are not related. According to the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors’ agenda, which is also posted online at: http://edinburgedc.com/meetings-agendas/, they will meet to consider the following: Open Session: Call meeting to order; Roll Call; Presentation by Capable Kids Foundation; Discuss and consider authorizing the Executive Director to renew the Professional Services Agreement with Signature Public Affairs, Inc.; Discuss and consider approval of termination of the Interlocal agreement with the City of Edinburg regarding Project Wildcat; and Discuss and consider approval of a sponsorship for the Valley Symphony Orchestra. Executive (Closed) Session: Deliberate the offers of financial or other incentives to business prospects; Deliberate authorizing the Executive Director to enter into a Development Agreement with Dennis Owens; and Consultation with Attorney.

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Edinburg EDC announces Edinburg posted the lowest monthly unemployment rate – 5.4 percent – among all Valley cities for April 2017

Featured, the Board of Directors for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, from left, are: Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer; Mayor Richard García as President (seated); Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Member; Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President; and Richard Ruppert as Member (seated).

Photograph By JULIO GONZÁLEZ

Edinburg, which for numerous consecutive years has registered the lowest or second-lowest unemployment rate among all Valley cities, for the month of April 2017 posted the best figure, at 5.4 percent, edging out McAllen, which came in with a 5.5 percent unemployment rate, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. Both cities were the only Valley communities with unemployment rates under six percent for April 2017, according to preliminary data released on Friday, May 19, 2017 by the Texas Workforce Commission. This latest data also showed that Edinburg saw a growth of 415 jobs when comparing the monthly totals of April 2017 (36,909) and April 2016 (36,494), according to the Edinburg EDC. In addition, Edinburg’s 36,909 individuals employed during April 2017 represented an increase of 47 employees over March 2017. The March 2017 employment number was estimated at 36,862 – the most jobs in the city’s history. The continued growth of jobs in Edinburg is independently documented by the Texas Workforce Commission, a state agency with many key duties, such as maintaining and reporting on key trends in state and local economies, including unemployment rates and the number of people employed in cities. The Edinburg EDC, of which Gus García is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Ruppert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members. Richard García and Gus García are not related.

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Edinburg EDC, as part of its Business Retention and Expansion Program, and Grindstone Coworking launch application process, with deadline of June 1, 2017, for second round of innovative entrepreneurship development initiative known as the Hive Effect

Featured, from left: Luis Martínez and Christopher Galicia with Bob’s Steak & Chop House in Edinburg join Juan Luis Mussenden, General Manager/Wine Director of Bob’s Steak & Chop House, as they perform some of their key administrative duties on Friday, May 19, 2017 at Grindstone Coworking, located at 506 W. University Drive. The multi-million dollar Bob’s Steak & Chop House is currently under construction at The Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg.

Photograph By DANIEL RIVERA

Providing the resources needed by residents to successfully start and run a small business is one of the many services provided at no charge by the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. To that effect – both figuratively and literally – the Edinburg EDC and Grindstone Coworking of Edinburg have kicked off the second round of the Hive Effect, an entrepreneur development initiative aiming to help business from the Rio Grande Valley thrive. The Hive Effect is part of the Business Retention and Expansion Program of the Edinburg EDC, which is the jobs-creation of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. (http://edinburgedc.com/services-we-offer/) Applications are being accepted through June 1, 2017 that will offer 15 business owners the opportunity to grow their respective businesses through curriculum, coworking and mentorship. The application process is available online at: http://www.hiveeffect.com/apply. Coworking is generally defined as the use of an office or other working environment by people who are self-employed or working for different employers, typically so as to share equipment, ideas, and knowledge. Coworking, which is a cutting-edge approach for sole proprietors and small business owners, is one of the strategies being promoted by the Edinburg EDC to create more successful firms in the city. Even Harvard Business Review gives the concept two thumbs up in a September 2015 article titled “Why People Thrive in Coworking Spaces”.  (https://hbr.org/2015/05/why-people-thrive-in-coworking-spaces) “We’re proud of what we accomplished with Hive Effect since its launch last September 2106,” said Daniel Rivera, Director of Grindstone Coworking and Hive Effect. “Our coursework, mentorship and implementation of the coworking concept have helped 10 entrepreneurs achieve great things for their respective businesses and we’re looking forward to introducing a new set of members to our growing community.” Gus García, the Executive Director for the Edinburg EDC, is a leading champion for the Hive Effect. “Small businesses are a staple to helping our economy thrive and with Hive Effect we can help entrepreneurs not only be successful but also contribute to the local economy.” 

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International trade with Mexico is vital for state’s and American economies and 382,ooo Texas jobs, Rep. Canales’ legislation, approved by House of Representatives, tells President and Congress

Featured, from left: Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler; Rep. Mike Lang, R-Grandbury; Rachel Wetsel, Clerk, House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence; and Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg. Canales was serving as Chair of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Subcommittee on Asset Forfeiture during its meeting in Austin on Wednesday, March 29, 2017.

Photograph By HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY

Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, along with a bipartisan supermajority of the Texas House of Representatives, wants President Trump and Congress to avoid any actions that would threaten almost $92.5 billion in annual Texas exports to Mexico, which is the largest trading partner for the Lone Star State. Exports are goods or services sent to another country for sale. Mexico’s relationship to Texas is so important to state lawmakers that they want to make sure their federal counterparts in Washington D.C. also don’t jeopardize hundreds of thousands of Texas jobs because of negative stereotypes or ignorance of Mexico’s roles in creating jobs and prosperity for all Americans. Through the use of a legislative measure, House Resolution 1025 by Canales, the Texas House of Representatives is urging the nation’s top elected leaders to recognize the huge significance of trade between Texas and Mexico. “As Texans, we understand the importance of the Texas-Mexico relationship to the economic success of state. 382,000 Texas jobs are supported by trade with Mexico” said Canales. “Should this relationship be impacted negatively, the social and economic security of the Texas border region would be devastating.” HR 1025, which is being sent to President Trump and Congress, calls on national leaders – many who are unfamiliar with U.S. international commerce involving Mexico – “to fully evaluate the impact of proposed federal trade policies, legislation, executive orders, and other actions on Texas-Mexico commerce.”

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Edinburg Economic Development Corporation announces $117.2 million in construction has taken place in city during the first quarter of 2017

Featured: The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley honored the City of Edinburg Solid Waste Management and the United Way of South Texas on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 with its Distinguished Community Engagement Partner Awards. Back row, from left, are Jeanette Ahlenius, Board Member, United Way of South Texas; Janie Chapa, Recycling Coordinator, City of Edinburg Solid Waste Management; Dalinda Cárdenas, Administrative Specialist, City of Edinburg Solid Waste Management; Ramiro Gómez, Director, City of Edinburg Solid Waste Management; and Dr. Dean Kyne, UTRGV Assistant Professor of Sociology. Front, from left, are Fidencio Mercado, Board Member, United Way of South Texas and UTRGV Clinical Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Services and Counseling; Celene González, Accounts Manager, City of Edinburg Solid Waste Management; Dr. Doris Mendiola, Data and Research Manager, UTRGV Community Engagement and Assessment; and Cris Trejo, UTRGV Assistant Vice President for Community Engagement and Assessment.

Photograph By PAUL CHOUY

As the multi-million dollar Edinburg Transit Terminal gets ready for its official groundbreaking at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 12, 2017, total construction activities in the city have reached more than $117 million during the first three months of the year, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. That level is almost double the $65 million figure reached from January through March 2016. For the month of March 2017 – the latest figures available from the city – Edinburg saw construction permits issued for work valued at more than $14.6 million, with new homes and new businesses leading the way, at $4.55 million and $4.51 million, respectively. Those totals do not include the value of any building-related activities at The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley and the UTRGV School of Medicine in Edinburg because the state government, not the city, oversees all construction at the Edinburg campus. The building permits do not include the value of the land for the homes and buildings. The Edinburg EDC, of which Gus García is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr., as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Ruppert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members. Mayor Richard García and Edinburg EDC Executive Director Gus García are not related. In general, a building permit is legal permission given by the City of Edinburg, through the Code Enforcement Department, to erect, construct, renovate, maintain, or conduct any other specified activity on any building or structure, or on any installations or facilities therein. The term “building permit” includes but is not limited to building permits, electrical permits, mechanical permits, and plumbing permits.

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Edinburg EDC Director Gus García announces EDC earns best rating from independent internal audit, which also finds “finances remain healthy and strong; 2017 to be a year of continued growth”

Featured: Gus García, Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, addresses area journalists on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 about key items reviewed and acted upon by the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors during their regular monthly meeting, which took place at the Edinburg EDC complex, located at 101 N. 10th Street.

Photograph By JENNIFER V. CABRERA

The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, which uses the one-half cent economic development sales tax for creating jobs and improving the quality of life in the city, has received the best national rating for how it handles and protects public money, according to a state-required independent annual audit. The audit covers a one-year period of financial activities by the Edinburg EDC for Fiscal Year 2015 (October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016). In general, an audit is a systematic examination and verification of an organization’s books of account, transaction records, other relevant documents, and physical inspection of inventory by qualified accountants (called auditors). (Read more at http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/audit.html.) “This very important report on the Edinburg EDC, which is led by Mayor Richard García as President of our five-member Board of Directors, also found in its 36-page detailed analysis that our ‘finances remain healthy’ and ‘2017 to be year of continued growth,’” said Gus García, the Executive Director of the Edinburg EDC. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr., as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Ruppert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members. Mayor Richard García and Edinburg EDC Executive Director Gus García are not related. The audit, prepared by Reyna & Garza CPA, LLC of Edinburg, was publicly released, discussed and approved on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at the regular meeting of the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors, which gathered in open session in the executive board. Fiscal year 2017 (October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017) “is projected to be a year of continued growth. Both public and private development in building and infrastructure activity will serve to broaden the city’s tax base and provide continuing employment opportunities for the residents,” the audit stated. Reflecting the city’s long history of annual economic gains – and specifically for the Fiscal Year 2015 audit – Reyna & Garza CPA, LLC further stated that “in 2016, the Edinburg EDC experienced an increase in sales tax revenue from 2015. As a result, the Edinburg EDC finances have remained healthy and strong. Cash reserves are in place in accordance with the Investment Policy in secured investments.”

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