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Image Courtesy RGV FC TOROS

Featured: An artist’s rendition of the 9,700-seat RGV FC Toros Stadium, located on 1616 South Raúl Longoria Road in Edinburg, one of many symbols of economic growth in the city. On Thursday, July 21, 2016, a press conference will be held beginning at 9 a.m. at the amphitheater, located on the park side of the professional sports complex, to announce the naming rights for the venue.

Image Courtesy RGV FC TOROS

The city’s continuing strong economic growth and the strategies by its elected leaders to protect taxpayers and manage public funds have resulted in one of the nation’s best bond ratings for investors, sending a strong message nationwide that the future remains bright for people to live, work and do business in Edinburg. The ratings, which were released on Monday, July 11, 2016, focused on several bonds previously issued by the city and the Edinburg EDC. Fitch Ratings upgraded those bonds to “AA”. “The improved ‘AA’ ratings mean that the Mayor, City Council, and Edinburg EDC Board of Directors, through their policies and actions, continue to demonstrate their excellence in helping shape an economy that means more good-paying jobs, a great environment for businesses of all sizes, and a high quality of life for our community,” said EEDC Executive Director Agustín García, Jr.

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Edinburg EDC Director Agustín García, Jr. reports that city’s strong economic growth and local governments’ financial integrity help community qualify for one of nation’s best bond ratings for investors

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

The city’s continuing strong economic growth and the strategies by its elected leaders to protect taxpayers and manage public funds have resulted in one of the nation’s best bond ratings for investors, sending a strong message nationwide that the future remains bright for people to live, work and do business in Edinburg.

Those opinions are included in a July 11, 2016 review produced by Fitch Ratings, which along with Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, is one of the three nationally recognized statistical rating organizations designated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 1975.

Fitch Ratings, based out of New York and London, is a leading provider of credit ratings, commentary and research, according to its website.

The announcement of the latest positive and independent view of Edinburg’s economy was announced on Friday, July 15, 2016 by the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, which is the the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council.

Agustín García, Jr., is the Executive Director for the Edinburg EDC.

The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mark Iglesias as President, Harvey Rodríguez as Vice President, Ellie M. Torres as Secretary/Treasurer, and Mayor Richard García and Richard Ruppert as Members.

Agustín García, Jr. and Mayor Richard García are not related.

The ratings, which were released on Monday, July 11, 2016, focused on several bonds previously issued by the city and the Edinburg EDC. Fitch Ratings upgraded those bonds to “AA”.

According to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, bonds are the primary source of long-term debt for local governments. A bond is a debt instrument issued for a period of more than one year with the purpose of raising money by borrowing. The federal government, states, cities, corporations, and many other types of institutions sell bonds. Generally, a bond is a promise to repay the principal along with interest on a specified date (http://www.texastransparency.org/State_Finance/Debt/).

“The improved ‘AA’ ratings mean that the Mayor, City Council, and Edinburg EDC Board of Directors, through their policies and actions, continue to demonstrate their excellence in helping shape an economy that means more good-paying jobs, a great environment for businesses of all sizes, and a high quality of life for our community,” said EEDC Executive Director Agustín García, Jr.

Previously, the ratings for those Edinburg bonds were ‘AA-’, which means they have been viewed favorably as ‘investor grade quality’, a clear sign that the city’s economy, and the financial practices by the city government and Edinburg EDC have been strong for some time, noted Mayor Richard García.

“For years, we on the City Council and the EEDC Board of Directors, along with our outstanding city and EEDC staffs, have worked diligently and successfully to always look out for the best interests of our citizens. These latest observations by Fitch Ratings are just the latest proof that we are doing our jobs for the people,” the mayor said. “But the ones who deserve the most credit are our residents, whose skills, talents, and hard work make Edinburg an American success story.”

Mark Iglesias, President of the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors, said Edinburg continues to see progress with all major economic indicators.

“Like any modern, progressive city, Edinburg has a bold vision for which we are constantly striving and seeing become realities,” said Iglesias. “Best of all, we don’t just rest on our many accomplishments. We look at our challenges and will continue to turn them into opportunities for citizens from all walks of life.”

Among the favorable views of the city’s economy and the local government’s ability to remain financially responsible and provide public services, the Fitch Ratings report found:

• Edinburg, with an estimated 2015 population of about 84,497 is the county seat of Hidalgo County. The city is 20 miles from the Texas-Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley and has grown by a compound annual average of 2.9% since 2010;

• A healthy pace of revenue growth is likely to continue due to population growth and economic expansion;

• Because of its position near the Mexican border along a major transportation route, Edinburg serves as a distribution center, benefiting from the trade generated by cross-border manufacturing activity as well as the agricultural production in the region. Retail trade, government, education and health services are all major components of the area economy. Enhanced border security in the form of additional barriers or walls, as discussed in the current U.S. presidential campaign, is not anticipated to have an impact on the legal flow of cross-border commerce;

• Further economic expansion is expected in the near term related to $150 million in projects underway at the newly designated University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley (UT-RGV), including the region’s first medical school which will open this fall. The UT-RGV’s current enrollment is 20,000 students and is projected to increase to 40,000 within 10 years due to its expanded mission and degree offerings;

• The city’s healthcare sector has grown due to a recent $200 million expansion of the local hospital which will serve as the teaching hospital for UT-RGV’s medical school. Planned projects include an upscale retail, entertainment, and hotel complex adjacent to the $60 million multi-purpose arena that is currently under construction. The arena will serve as the home of the local basketball team of the National Basketball Association Development League. An $8 million soccer arena is also under construction and will serve as the home of a United Soccer League franchise;

• The rating reflects the city’s favorable revenue framework, moderate fixed costs and long-term liability burden, and demonstrated financial resiliency during economic downturns;

• The city’s wealth and income indicators are well below average but poised to grow due to the ongoing diversification of the employment base; and

• The unemployment rate remains steady and in line with the U.S. average, an improvement from historical results that has been aided by several major economic development projects recently completed or underway.

Fitch Ratings assigned a ‘AA’ rating to the following Edinburg issuance:

• $3.925 million combination and tax revenue certificates of obligation (COs), series 2016.

Proceeds of the COs will fund street, curb, and sidewalk improvements. The COs are scheduled to sell via negotiation during the week of July 18.

In addition, Fitch upgrades the following outstanding ratings of the city:

• Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to ‘AA’ from ‘AA-‘; $41.5 million limited tax bonds to ‘AA’ from ‘AA-‘; and

• $19.6 million Edinburg Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) sales tax revenue bonds to ‘AA’ from ‘AA-‘.

According to Wikipedia, Fitch Ratings’ long-term credit ratings are assigned on an alphabetic scale from ‘AAA’ to ‘D’, first introduced in 1924 and later adopted and licensed by S&P. (Moody’s also uses a similar scale, but names the categories differently.)

Like S&P, Fitch also uses intermediate +/? modifiers for each category between AA and CCC (e.g., AA+, AA, AA?, A+, A, A?, BBB+, BBB, BBB?, etc.).

Investment grade

  •  AAA: the best quality companies or governments, reliable and stable;
  •  AA: quality companies or governments, a bit higher risk than AAA;
  •  A: economic situation can affect finance; and
  •  BBB: medium class companies or governments, which are satisfactory at the moment.

Non-investment grade

  •  BB: more prone to changes in the economy;
  •  B: financial situation varies noticeably;
  •  CCC: currently vulnerable and dependent on favorable economic conditions to meet its commitments;
  •  CC: highly vulnerable, very speculative bonds;
  •  C: highly vulnerable, perhaps in bankruptcy or in arrears but still continuing to pay out on obligations;
  •  D: has defaulted on obligations and Fitch believes that it will generally default on most or all obligations; and
  •  NR: not publicly rated.

RGV FC TOROS TO ANNOUNCE NAMING RIGHTS TO SOCCER STADIUM ON THURSDAY, JULY 21

In related economic news, the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros will be having a press conference on Thursday, July 21, 2016 announcing the naming rights to the 9,700-seat RGV FC Toros Stadium.

The press conference will commence at 9 a.m. at the amphitheater located on the park side of the RGV FC Toros stadium located on 1616 S. Raul Longoria Road in Edinburg.

Toros Stadium is comprised of 9,700 stadium seats. The stadium also includes a full-service restaurant, concessions, a park with a playground and amphitheater, practice fields, executive lounges, a sports bar, and 33 suites. Suites include VIP amenities and a 16-seat capacity. In addition to soccer games, the stadium will also host concerts, high school sporting events, and a variety of other forms of entertainment.

The multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art stadium will provide the club with leading infrastructure including various locker rooms, offices, and a training facility. In the park side, the amphitheater has a capacity of 2,000 that will be able to host various type of events ranging from wedding ceremonies to concerts. A bridge connects the park with the RGV FC Practice Complex. Ample parking lots also double as festival grounds.

The stadium will mainly serve as the home of the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros. The United Soccer League (USL) awarded its 25th franchise to Alonzo Cantú, owner of the NBA Development League Rio Grande Valley Vipers, on July 15, 2015. The club will serve as the hybrid affiliate of the Houston Dynamo, the first hybrid affiliation in the USL.

The first season for the Toros kicked off their inaugural season on March 26, 2016 when they visited Tulsa Roughnecks FC.

About the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros

Lone Star FC, LLC, established the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros in 2015. The team’s inaugural season began in 2016. The RGV FC Toros is a member of the United Soccer League (USL). The team will serve as the development affiliate of Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo.

The USL is one of the fastest growing leagues in the country. This season alone, 13 new clubs entered the league, seven of which are owned by MLS clubs. The RGV FC Toros and Houston Dynamo are the first clubs to operate as hybrid affiliates. The Houston Dynamo will manage soccer operations, while the team’s owners will manage all business operations locally.

About the United Soccer League (USL)

The USL is a vital part of soccer in the United States, on and off the field, and has more than doubled in size since 2014.

The USL offers the highest level of competition under MLS on a national footprint with strong local ownership groups in major markets positioned for long-term success. With 29 teams in 19 American states and three Canadian provinces, the USL is the largest professional soccer league in the United States and Canada, and the world.

The 2016 season marks the introduction of six teams – Bethlehem Steel FC, FC Cincinnati, Orlando City B, Rio Grande Valley FC, San Antonio FC and Swope Park Rangers KC.

The USL’s teams are divided into two conferences – Eastern and Western – with each team playing 30 regular season games. In addition to league play, USL teams compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as well as various domestic and international exhibitions.

The USL is the longest-standing professional affiliate member of U.S. Soccer. Every game of the 2016 USL season can be seen live, free and in HD on Match Center at http://www.USLSoccer.com, with updates from across the league also available on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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Anwar Chagollan contributed to this story. 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

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