Select Page
Harvey Rodríguez provides insights into operations of key jobs-creation panel and upcoming developments

Featured, from left: Harvey Rodríguez, Vice President, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors; Ellie M. Torres, Secretary/Treasurer, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors; Nelda Ramírez, Assistant Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; and Agustín García, Jr. Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, on Monday, December 14, 2015, when the EEDC hosted a holiday celebration for area residents at its headquarters, located at 101 North 10th Avenue. Photograph By DIEGO REYNA

By his own admission, Harvey Rodríguez, the Vice President of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, says as a younger man, the thought of serving on a city board was not even a passing thought, even though today, his leadership roles in public service also include his status as chairman of the Recreation and Park Board in Edinburg. “Did I ever feel that I would be 33 years old and be serving on the EEDC Board of Directors? If you asked me 10 years ago, there was no way,” said Rodríguez, the youngest appointee on the five-member EEDC Board of Directors. “But I relish this opportunity. I appreciated everyone who supported me through it, and now I have a chip on my shoulder to show that I am extremely capable. I wake up with that attitude every day.” The EEDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The EEDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mark Iglesias as President, Rodríguez as Vice President, Ellie M. Torres as Secretary/Treasurer, and Mayor Richard García and Richard Ruppert as Members. The mayor and the EEDC executive director are not related. Rodríguez, selected last May by Mayor Pro Tem Homer Jasso, Jr., for a two-year term on the influential EEDC governing board, said his appointment should serve notice to younger adults in the city that their ideas and experiences are essential to the successful running of municipal government and business development in Edinburg. With more than 50 percent of Edinburg’s estimated population of 77,100 aged 29 years and younger as of 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau – and more than 20 percent of the city’s population made up of residents aged 18 to 29 years – Rodríguez inspires residents as young as high school students to set their sights high, beginning with becoming involved with as many role models, community leaders, and business officials as possible. “I always encourage every high school student that if you can get a college scholarship anywhere, they have to go,” said Rodríguez. “There is a lot more outside of the Valley that I exposed myself to through college and travel, so I always tell people to go out there and meet new people.” But don’t stop there, his advice continued. “As cliché as it may be, I would tell them not to take no for an answer,” emphasized Rodríguez. Rodríguez, whose extensive professional credentials include currently serving as South Texas Operations Manager for CAS Companies, LP, took his experience and insights on behalf of the city to a major convention, held in early November 2015 in Dallas, of the International Council of Shopping Centers. Mayor Pro Tem Jasso, along with City Councilmember David Torres, his wife, Ellie Torres, who is Secretary/Treasurer of the EEDC Board of Directors, as well as Agustín García, Jr., the EEDC Executive Director, Letty Reyes, EEDC Director of Business Development & Public Affairs, Diego Reyna, EEDC Research Analyst, and then-Edinburg City Manager Ramiro Garza, Jr., also participated in the three-day event, held on Wednesday, November 4, through Friday, November 6, 2015. The gathering was billed by organizers “as a great opportunity for owners, developers, retailers, brokers, lenders, municipalities, property asset managers and product and service providers to gather under one roof to exhibit, make deals and form successful partnerships.” Edinburg continues to build its reputation as a potential successful market in the eyes of many major retailers, Rodríguez contended, saying he and the city delegation who went to Dallas had more than enough evidence to back up their civic pride. “They know we are a booming market. They know the disposable income (personal income after taxes) in the Valley regardless of the incorrect image that some national news media say about us,” he said. But the city’s selling points speak for themselves, he added. “The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, the UT School of Medicine set to open next fall, our ongoing construction projects such as the Bert Ogden Arena, the 9,400-seat soccer stadium for the Rio Grande Valley Toros professional soccer team, our major transportation corridors including Interstate Highway 69, Tres Lagos, the planned 2,571 acre master-planned community that will be located in the Edinburg school district and which will feature a future campus of Texas A&M University, and more,” Rodríguez recalled the growing and long list of reasons why businesses should stay, expand, or locate to Edinburg. “These achievements make it so much easier to show retail developers and other prospective employers why Edinburg is the place to be.”

••••••

Harvey Rodríguez, Vice President of Edinburg Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, provides insights into operations of key jobs-creation panel and upcoming developments

By DAVID A. DIAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

By his own admission, Harvey Rodríguez, the Vice President of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, says as a younger man, the thought of serving on a city board was not even a passing thought, even though today, his leadership roles in public service also include his status as chairman of the Recreation and Park Board in Edinburg.

“Did I ever feel that I would be 33 years old and be serving on the EEDC Board of Directors? If you asked me 10 years ago, there was no way,” said Rodríguez, the youngest appointee on the five-member EEDC Board of Directors. “But I relish this opportunity. I appreciated everyone who supported me through it, and now I have a chip on my shoulder to show that I am extremely capable. I wake up with that attitude every day.”

The EEDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The EEDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mark Iglesias as President, Rodríguez as Vice President, Ellie M. Torres as Secretary/Treasurer, and Mayor Richard García and Richard Ruppert as Members.

The mayor and the EEDC executive director are not related.

Rodríguez, selected last May by Mayor Pro Tem Homer Jasso, Jr., for a two-year term on the influential EEDC governing board, said his appointment should serve notice to younger adults in the city that their ideas and experiences are essential to the successful running of municipal government and business development in Edinburg.

With more than 50 percent of Edinburg’s estimated population of 77,100 aged 29 years and younger as of 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau – and more than 20 percent of the city’s population made up of residents aged 18 to 29 years – Rodríguez inspires residents as young as high school students to set their sights high, beginning with becoming involved with as many role models, community leaders, and business officials as possible.

“I always encourage every high school student that if you can get a college scholarship anywhere, they have to go,” said Rodríguez. “There is a lot more outside of the Valley that I exposed myself to through college and travel, so I always tell people to go out there and meet new people.”

But don’t stop there, his advice continued.

“As cliché as it may be, I would tell them not to take no for an answer,” emphasized Rodríguez.

Rodríguez, whose extensive professional credentials include currently serving as South Texas Operations Manager for CAS Companies, LP, took his experience and insights on behalf of the city to a major convention, held in early November 2015 in Dallas, of the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Mayor Pro Tem Jasso, along with City Councilmember David Torres, his wife, Ellie Torres, who is Secretary/Treasurer of the EEDC Board of Directors, as well as Agustín García, Jr., the EEDC Executive Director, Letty Reyes, EEDC Director of Business Development & Public Affairs, Diego Reyna, EEDC Research Analyst, and then-Edinburg City Manager Ramiro Garza, Jr., also participated in the three-day event, held on Wednesday, November 4, through Friday, November 6, 2015.

The gathering was billed by organizers “as a great opportunity for owners, developers, retailers, brokers, lenders, municipalities, property asset managers and product and service providers to gather under one roof to exhibit, make deals and form successful partnerships.”

Edinburg continues to build its reputation as a potential successful market in the eyes of many major retailers, Rodríguez contended, saying he and the city delegation who went to Dallas had more than enough evidence to back up their civic pride.

“They know we are a booming market. They know the disposable income (personal income after taxes) in the Valley regardless of the incorrect image that some national news media say about us,” he said. “But our selling points speak for themselves.

“The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, the UT School of Medicine set to open next fall, our ongoing construction projects such as the Bert Ogden Arena, the 9,400-seat soccer stadium for the Rio Grande Valley Toros professional soccer team, our major transportation corridors including Interstate Highway 69, Tres Lagos, the planned 2,571 acre master-planned community that will be located in the Edinburg school district and which will feature a future campus of Texas A&M University, and more,” Rodríguez recalled the growing and long list of reasons why businesses should stay, expand, or locate to Edinburg. “These achievements make it so much easier to show retail developers and other prospective employers why Edinburg is the place to be.”

Rodríguez shared those details and other information about the city and EEDC’s successful efforts at the International Council of Shopping Centers sessions, which was held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

Highlights of his perspectives, which he provided during the EEDC holiday celebration on Monday, December 14, 2015, at the EEDC headquarters, follow:

QUESTION:

The statewide convention of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ITSC) held in Dallas in early November was designed, according to organizers, “as a great opportunity for owners, developers, retailers, brokers, lenders, municipalities, property asset managers and product and service providers to gather under one roof to exhibit, make deals and form successful partnerships.” What were some of the goals of the delegation from Edinburg at that gathering?

HARVEY RODRÍGUEZ:

It was an opportunity for us as an economic development corporation to have some face time with statewide and national retailers and developers from across the United States. Texas, because it is such a large and populous state, gets its own international shopping center conference because of the number of retailers and developers based in our home state.

QUESTION:

Your professional background includes more than two years serving on the San Juan Economic Development Corporation as a Senior Project Specialist. Did you have previous experience in participating in such conferences, and how did that help you for the ITSC meetings in Dallas this past November?

HARVEY RODRÍGUEZ:

I had already attended this conference in Texas and Las Vegas, during their annual worldwide conventions three or four times, prior to the November 4 through November 6 (2015) event that the Edinburg delegation attended in Dallas. This was nothing new to me. I knew the expectations and I knew what was needed, but (EEDC Executive Director Agustín) Gus García and his staff were fully prepared. This was something they have gone through many times and had set up a lot of appointments and opportunities that we needed in order to try to publicize and promote what we have available for development opportunities.

QUESTION:

How important is it for Edinburg to have a delegation from the city and EEDC Board of Directors at this convention as opposed to having the EEDC staff go by themselves?

HARVEY RODRÍGUEZ:

It’s very important. Having some of the members of the City Council and EEDC Board of Directors along with the city manager and EEDC executive director made it much easier in helping convince prospective retailers to locate in Edinburg. Why? Because if there is an incentive or some type of agreement that needs to be negotiated, you have several of the elected and appointed decision-makers there. We come back and are able to make an easier decision based on the face-to-face that we had while we were there. It makes things a lot more convincing to prospective developers by being able to say, “Hey, you know what? If you have a question or you want to see if this is even possible or feasible, well, here are some of the decision-makers. Why don’t you to speak to them?’ That’s what I think that’s what makes it a lot better. It was being unified when we went up there.

QUESTION:

When you are introducing Edinburg to organizations or individuals not as familiar with this city or region, what are the key selling points you provide?

HARVEY RODRÍGUEZ:

Believe it or not, because I have been in this for some years now with my background, the Rio Grande Valley and Edinburg are not the ‘hidden gems’ that lacked familiarity in the past. Mention the Rio Grande Valley today, and many business leaders know exactly where we are. They know we are a booming market. They know the disposable income (personal income after taxes) in the Valley regardless of the incorrect image that some national news media say about us. But our selling points speak for themselves. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, the UT School of Medicine set to open next fall, our ongoing construction projects, such as the Bert Ogden Arena, the Rio Grande Valley Toros professional soccer team with the new 9,400-seat soccer stadium, our major transportation corridors, including Interstate Highway 69, Tres Lagos, the planned 2,571 acre master-planned community that will be located in the Edinburg school district and which will feature a future campus of Texas A&M University, and more. These achievements make it so much easier to show retail developers and other prospective employers why Edinburg is the place to be.

QUESTION:

During the visit by the Edinburg EDC to Dallas in November, were there familiar faces from South Texas?

HARVEY RODRÍGUEZ:

Yes. I saw and spoke with many local developers and real estate agents, former directors and staff members from Valley economic development corporations who I had met years ago.

QUESTION:

When you arrived for the convention in Dallas, did you have appointments already scheduled with some of these developers?

HARVEY RODRÍGUEZ:

Where we all gathered (Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center), you kind of fit in your 15-minute slot with everybody and you get your 15-second pitch. But the seasoned people – and I say this because our staff is experienced and knowledgable – know that you must set up these appointments outside of the convention floor, because in 15 minutes, you have a packet to give retailers and developers, and they’re going to put it aside with a stack of hundreds of other packets from other communities. In order to really get in front of somebody, it takes months of advance preparation and engagement. Then, we work to get the face-to-face interview, whether it’s through a lunch or coffee or dinner outside of the convention floor during the time we are there.

QUESTION:

Without revealing any confidential information, is there anything that is shaping up from the Dallas visit?

HARVEY RODRÍGUEZ:

We were able to make two significant agreements while we there, so to say the trip was a success was an understatement.

QUESTION:

When do you think those agreements become public?

HARVEY RODRÍGUEZ:

I think to be safe, within 60-to-90 days, there will be a sign that reveals one of the major ones we landed.

Within the next 90 days to six months, Edinburg will see movement where we intend for some of these developments to break ground.

QUESTION:

This is big news?

HARVEY RODRÍGUEZ:

It is very exciting. There is just so much, and I am blessed to be a part of it.

I have said it many times before, I think Edinburg is in the most prime position for development across the state. We’re in at the point of no return where it will be nothing but successes from here forward.

I think all the hard work has been done. and I commend everyone who was here before me who laid down the groundwork. For now, it’s just being strategic to make sure we are making the right moves.

For a long time, I think we had to pry people to try and get them here. Now I don’t think Edinburg has to do so much pitching. People know what’s here and what the future holds here, and now it’s about being strategic and making intelligent moves to make sure we are using the right amount of resources for certain deals rather than giving the farm away for something that might not have as much return for the citizens here.

QUESTION:

On Thursday, May 21, you and Mark Iglesias were appointed by the Edinburg City Council to the five-member EEDC Board of Directors. Later in the summer, your colleagues on the EEDC Board of Directors selected you as Vice President. What have been your assessments and experiences in your capacity since your first came on to the board?

HARVEY RODRÍGUEZ:

I think we hit the ground running. Luckily, I didn’t need much of a learning curve because of my background, so I jumped right into the situation by working hand-in-hand with Gus and (EEDC Assistant Executive Director) Nelda (Ramírez) to bring myself up to par on everything that has happened in the last five years and looking into what we needed to do from here on. It’s intriguing how there are so many pieces to a puzzle when something is brought to the city or someone is interested in the city. I think all of us on the board, with the City Council and the Mayor being on the same page, really make things a lot easier. I can only look forward to what the future holds, not for myself on the board, but the Edinburg in general.

QUESTION:

You were appointed to the EEDC Board by Mayor Pro Tem Homer Jasso, Jr. Did he approach you to serve on the board? How did that transpire?

HARVEY RODRÍGUEZ:

I don’t think it was a secret. If you talk to Gus, I think he’ll tell you that four years ago, when he got the job as EEDC Executive Director, I couldn’t wait to have an opportunity to serve on the EEDC Board of Directors. I have always made it known that the EEDC Board of Directors was one board I knew that I would be beneficial. I just knew that it was something in which I would really put my heart and soul.

I am very hard working and aggressive in my nature and in my business. It’s how I approach everything.

I also serve as Chairman of the city’s Recreation and Park Board (which exercises general supervision over the maintenance and equipment of parks, playgrounds, athletic fields, swimming pools and recreation centers and buildings and facilities).

I grew up as an athlete. I played in the Edinburg sports and wellness programs all my life so I am extremely passionate about our youth and our community. So going from helping our youth to helping the business and commerce of the city, it works hand-in-hand. It’s a circle of life type of situation.

When the opportunity came up that each Edinburg council member would be able to each appoint one member to the EEDC Board of Directors, I was hopeful that one of them would understand how much I wanted to serve in that capacity as well, and that I had earned the privilege and honor of being on the EEDC Board of Directors.

QUESTION:

As allowed by law, many of the possible economic development projects and strategies being considered or negotiated by the EEDC Board of Directors take place in executive session, which means behind closed doors. Only when decisions are made by the EEDC Board of Directors to take official action on those items, do those projects and strategies become public information. Until that happens, please further explain why it is important to keep those issues confidential until final decisions are made by the EEDC Board of Directors.

HARVEY RODRÍGUEZ:

First and foremost, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and the Edinburg City Council and Mayor are strong champions of transparency in government. In addition, the many laws that govern public information and open government in Texas are available, and easily explained, by going to Office of the Attorney General, and logging on to the open meetings and public information sections of its website.

Also as allowed by these state laws, as we deliberate or negotiate strategies or agreements in executive session, it is done for many important and lawful reasons, including to protect developers, some who are very finicky. A lot of these developers and other business prospects make the EEDC Board of Directors sign non-disclosure agreements so they don’t give other business rivals an unfair advantage. We also don’t want other neighboring cities to know who we are trying to bring into Edinburg so they don’t compete against us. Finally, we don’t reveal the details until we have an agreement in writing.

QUESTION:

What do you say to younger adults, aged 18 to 29, who make up more than 20 percent (15,464) of the city’s population (77,100), why they should get involved in their local government and its boards, such as the EEDC Board of Directors?

HARVEY RODRÍGUEZ:

As cliché as it may be, I would tell them not to take no for an answer.

That’s about as cliché as you can get, but it’s about exposure.

I always encourage every high school student that if you can get a scholarship anywhere, they have to go. There is a lot more outside of the Valley that I exposed myself to through college and travel, but I always tell people to go out there and meet new people.

Did I ever feel that I would be 33 years old and be serving on the EEDC Board of Directors? If you asked me 10 years ago, there was no way. But I relish this opportunity. I appreciated everyone who supported me through it, and now I have a chip on my shoulder to show that I am extremely capable. I wake up with that attitude everyday.

QUESTION:

You hinted at two major development that might come to fruition within the next three months. Looking into 2016, what is it that you can reveal to perk the excitement of the citizens?

HARVEY RODRÍGUEZ:

Our shopping and eating experiences will be enhanced within the next 12 months beyond anything Edinburg has seen.

••••••

For more information on the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and the City of Edinburg, please log on to http://edinburgedc.com or to http://www.facebook.com/edinburgedc

Share This

Share this post with your friends!