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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
Featured, from left: Priscilla Guillén, who works in the School of Rehabilitation Services & Counseling office, has been named the Edinburg Campus Student Employee of the Year at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Forty-two students who work on the Edinburg Campus were nominated for the recognition, as part of UTRGV’s annual National Student Employment Appreciation Week, held Monday, April 10 through Friday, April 14, 2017. She is presented a certificate of appreciation by Ana B. Pérez, Assistant Director for Student Employment.
Photograph by SILVER SALAS
Edinburg reported the largest number of jobs in its history in March 2017 – 36,851 – along with posting one of Valley’s lowest unemployment rates for that month, according to preliminary estimates released on Friday, April 21, 2017 by the Texas Workforce Commission. This latest data also showed that Edinburg saw a growth of 511 jobs when comparing the monthly totals of March 2017 (36,851) and March 2016 (36,340), according to the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. In addition, Edinburg continues to have one of the best rates in the Valley of persons holding jobs in a community, coming in with a 6.1 percent unemployment rate for March 2017 – second among all regional economies. The unemployment rate is a key indicator of the strength of the local economy. Mayor Richard García, during his State of the City Address on Wednesday, April 12, 2017, said the rising growth of jobs in Edinburg draws more private investments into the local economy, which in turn helps create a larger, better-paid workforce. “Edinburg continues to record one of the lowest unemployment rates in the Rio Grande Valley,” the mayor noted. “This latest report indicated our 6.1 percent, second only to McAllen at 6 percent. That rate is not just a sign of new investments but also of business retention and growth of our existing businesses – large and small.” García said the increasing number of jobs in Edinburg has been noticed by private investors and policy makers throughout Texas and beyond. “I am proud to report the state of Edinburg’s economy is thriving. In January, Wallethub named Edinburg number five amongst the top most improved cities since the 2008 recession,” he said. “They looked at our employment and earning opportunities as well as our economic environment to reach that conclusion.” The Edinburg EDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. 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 Agustín García, Jr. are not related.
Featured: A recent U.S. Air Force poster, part of an ongoing campaign by the American military in support of Airmen and their families who have been a victim of sexual assault. In Texas, a statewide effort led by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, is underway to develop strategies to reduce sexual assault by equipping the public with knowledge and awareness of this serious crime by designating April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Photograph Courtesy of U.S. AIR FORCE
Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, has proposed that April would be designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Texas in order to increase knowledge that leads to more prevention of sexual assault and punishment of criminals, and to authorize the regular observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month through appropriate activities in public schools and other places. Sexual assault, according to FindLaw.com, occurs when a defendant – intentionally and knowingly – commits any of a number of prohibited sexual activities listed under Texas’ sexual assault law without the victim’s consent. Canales’ proposal, as illustrated in House Bill 822, was overwhelmingly approved by the Texas House of Representatives on Thursday, April 2o, 2017. The bill will now go to the Texas Senate for their action. “Today, I passed legislation out of the House to officially designate the month of April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month in an effort to raise public awareness about sexual assault and educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual assault,” Canales said. “We need everyone’s help to reduce sexual assault, and I believe that officially designating this month is a step in the right direction towards proactively reducing sexual assault.” Sexual assault is a serious criminal violation. Canales’ measure stems from a study conducted by UT Austin’s Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault, whose findings were released on Friday, March 24, 2017. The report titled Cultivating Learning and Safe Environments showed that sexual assault is an ongoing problem throughout society, including in the halls of higher education. According to the study, almost 200 out of the more than 3,800 students who participated in the anonymous online survey reported to have been sexually assaulted since they have been enrolled at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s campuses. Nine percent of those students who participated in the anonymous online survey – almost 350 individuals – said they had been victims of unwanted sexual touching since they have been enrolled at UTRGV’s campuses. “These figures are shocking, to say the least,” said Canales, an attorney who also serves on the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence, which shapes state laws to protect Texans, especially from violent criminals. “But through this legislation, and another major bill I am working on, we are going to help remove the shroud of secrecy over sexual assault, family violence, and stalking policies at our public universities and colleges.” House Bill 1096, coauthored by Canales and Rep. J.M. Lozano, R-Kingsville, would require public universities and colleges in Texas to provide students and organizations with information about these crimes. “If HB 1096 becomes law, but a public university or college fails to provide that information, that university or college would not receive any state funding,” Canales said.
Featured: Following his State of the City Address on Wednesday, April 12, 2017, held inside the newly-opened $5 million IMAX theatre at Carmike Cinemas, Mayor Richard García, speaking to area journalists in a section of the IMAX lobby, praises Edinburg for its many assets, including the diversity of its people.
Photograph By DIEGO REYNA
With more than 80,000 Hidalgo County residents estimated by the state government with various types and degrees of disabilities, Edinburg Mayor Richard García, whose hometown is the county seat, wants them and their loved ones to know they are very important to the general well-being, positive image, reputation for diversity, and successes of the city. As part of his vision for Edinburg is a landmark plan to create a “special needs” park next to City Hall that would provide recreational equipment and positive experiences for children and teens with hearing, vision, independent living, ambulatory or cognitive difficulties. “This park will be a place where children with all types of challenges will be able to enjoy the outdoors, and have fun with other kids,” the mayor said. “It will be a place where they can learn about feelings of belonging and acceptance.” García, during his Wednesday, April 12, 2017 State of the City Address that he delivered as part of the public unveiling of the $5 million IMAX theater at Carmike Cinemas, emphasized his determination for such an outdoors complex. At the State of the City address, in announcing the special needs park, the mayor was joined by several young people and their families who represented the many residents for which the park is being created. Funding for the special needs park, when a final price tag is determined at a later date, will include financial support from the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The mayor’s proposed special needs park also sends a clear message to Edinburg’s youngest residents that the city government is responsive to all of its constituents. “Everyone, no matter what challenges or difficulties we face, has the potential for greatness,” García reflected. “This park will let people know that all of our young people are part of their hometown’s goals and achievements. Edinburg’s current successes and bright future will depend on the city’s leadership providing our young people with the encouragement, opportunities, resources, and physical and emotional support to help them reach their goals and dreams.” In general, a special needs park has an all-inclusive playground that is a place where children can play together with their peers, family, friends, and neighbors without experiencing physical or social barriers to inclusion. Play components are featured that challenge and accommodate typically developing children, as well as children with autism, hearing impairments, cognitive disabilities, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, and other physical and developmental needs.
Featured: Students and faculty from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in February 2017 won numerous awards for creative excellence at the American Advertising Federation (AAF)-Rio Grande Valley ADDY awards competition. Shown, front row, from left, are: Ping Xu, UTRGV Assistant Professor of Graphic Design; and UTRGV students Richard Guzmán; Alexandra González; Jacqueline Maldonado; and Arael Meza. Back row, from left: Samuel Hernández; UTRGV Art Lecturer Erika Balogh; Mónica Lugo; Julio Aranda; Mariana Zapata; and Robert Gilbert, Associate Professor of Graphic Design. The Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council, along with the Board of Directors of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, lobby the Texas Legislature and the UT System Board of Regents on behalf of UTRGV in Edinburg and the UTRGV School of Medicine in Edinburg.
Photograph Courtesy of MARCI CALTABIANO
Between November 2016 and February 2017, Edinburg’s retail economy remained ahead of the same period the year before, up 0.63 percent, based on local sales taxes generated, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. For the month of February 2017, the city’s retail economy was slightly behind the pace set during the month of February 2016 – registering a slight drop of 1.08 percent – with almost all of the other Valley communities also reporting decreases in local sales taxes generated from the same month the prior year. From November 2016 through February 2017, Edinburg’s retail economy produced $6,888,933.94 in local sales taxes, compared with $6,845,130.80 for November 2015 through February 2016, an increase of 0.63 percent. For February 2017, Edinburg’s retail economy produced $1,543,532.91 in local sales taxes, compared with $1,560,406.24 in February 2016, representing a decrease of 1.08 percent. The Edinburg EDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. 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 Rupert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members. Mayor Richard García and Edinburg EDC Executive Director Agustín García, Jr. are not related.
In certain situations, active duty members and veterans of the U.S. military who suffer from a brain injury, mental illness, or mental disorder, including post-traumatic stress disorder, or was a victim of military sexual trauma that occurred during or resulted from the defendant’s military services – and who are convicted of their first criminal offense in Texas – would be able to have that conviction wiped off their record automatically and for free, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, has proposed. His measure, House Bill 322, which was approved on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 by the Texas House of Representatives on a vote of 146 to 0, now goes to the Texas Senate for its action. HB 322 also would extend these protections to eligible members of the reserves, national guard, or state guard. Having a court order the destruction of records of the conviction is known as an expungement. An expungement is currently available for certain Texans, but the costs nationwide can start around $400 and go up to $4,000, plus court costs, depending on the nature of the charge, according to CostHelper.com. Texas veterans “are being failed by current law because in many cases these wounded warriors do not get their record expunged because it requires hiring a lawyer and paying additional court fees,” added the House District 40 state lawmaker, who is an attorney. “Such costs prevent many veterans eligible for an expungement from doing so.” But under HB 332, U.S. military personnel and veterans who successfully complete a rigorous and effective series of rehabilitative programs offered through veterans courts in Texas would be able to have their record cleared of a first offense, saving them thousands of dollars and precious time. “Criminal records are like scarlet letters that a person carries for the rest of their lives,” Canales said. “Our active military personnel and veterans fight and die for us, and I believe if they mess up, they should be given special consideration under the law.” HB 322 was requested by judges statewide who oversee the state’s veterans treatment courts.
Graphic Courtesy U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Featured, from left: Mayor Pro Tem J.R. Betancourt; Harvey Rodríguez, Jr., Vice President, Board of Directors, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; Elías Longoria, Jr., Secretary/Treasurer, Board of Directors, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; and City Councilmember Homer Jasso, Jr. The local leaders were in attendance on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 for the State of the City Address by Mayor Richard García, held in the recently-opened IMAX theatre in Edinburg. “Success attracts success, and major developments such as this venue where we are, is one such example,” García said. “We are proud to be the home to the only IMAX theatre south of San Antonio. This IMAX is a $5 million investment, creating 50 jobs, and contributing a riveting movie experience.”
Featured, from left: City Councilmember David Torres and his wife, Ellie Torres, who currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District; and Ambrosio “Amos” Hernández, M.D., Mayor of Pharr, on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 for the State of the City Address by Mayor Richard García, held in the recently-opened $5 million IMAX theatre in Edinburg. Torres also is a former member of the Board of Directors for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. Mayor Richard García predicted that the construction activities in Edinburg are sure to break last year’s mark. “In 2016, the Planning and Zoning Department issued $209 in construction project permits, up from $139.5 million in 2015, $120.5 million in 2014, and $123 million in 2013,” the mayor reported. “We are on track to exceed $209 million by the end of this year.”
Featured: City Councilmember Richard Molina and his wife, Dalia (shown smiling at the camera), take a photograph with an unidentified resident outside the recently-opened $5 million IMAX theater in Edinburg. The Molinas along with the Edinburg City Council and the Board of Directors for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation joined several hundred area residents on Wednesday, May 12, 2017, for the State of the City Address by Mayor Richard García. Total construction activities in Edinburg during February 2017 reached more than $9.2 million – almost the exact total for the February 2016 figure – with the construction of new homes leading the way, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. Year-t0-date, however, as a result of a construction permit valued at $80 million for the city-owned Bert Ogden Arena being issued in January 2017, total construction in the city for the first two months of 2017 is valued at more than $102.6 million – more than double the $45.4 million combined level for January and February 2016.
Photographs By ALEX RÍOS