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Featured: Letty Reyes, Director of Business Development and Public Affairs, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; and Juan Guerra, City Manager, City of Pharr. Both area leaders on Friday, October 7, 2016 participated in a panel discussion about entrepreneurial innovation during the Fourth Annual Binational Innovation Conference (INNO 2016), which was hosted by South Texas College (STC) in McAllen. The Edinburg EDC was a sponsor of the event. INNO 2016 was held at the STC Technology Campus located at 3700 W. Military Highway in McAllen. Also on the panel, but not shown in this image, were: Keith Patridge, President/CEO, McAllen Economic Development Corporation; Francisco “Frank” Almaraz, CEO, Workforce Solutions, Lower Rio Grande Valley; and Bobby Villarreal, County Executive Director, Hidalgo County.

Photograph By LAURA VELA

Edinburg’s retail economy from January through August 2016 has improved more than 4.6 percent, which is the best showing of all major Rio Grande Valley cities, and better than the statewide average of a 1.1 percent increase of all cities in the state, according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. For the month of August 2016, Edinburg’s retail economy – as measured by local sales taxes generated from purchases of eligible goods and services – also remained healthy, showing an almost two percent improvement over the month of August 2015. Those figures are based on sales made in August 2016 by businesses that report tax monthly, according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. The local sales tax data is among the latest economic barometers featured in a detailed summary provided by the state comptroller’s office, which released retail sales figures on Wednesday, October 12, 2016. During the first eight months of 2016, Edinburg’s retail economy produced $17,592,870.93 in local sales taxes, compared with $16,812,351.02 for January through August 2015, representing an improvement of 4.64 percent. For August 2016, Edinburg’s retail economy generated $1,702,561.82 in local sales taxes, compared with $1,671,788.87 during the same period in 2015, representing the improvement of 1.84 percent, also according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. The sales tax, formally known as the State Sales and Use Tax, is imposed on all retail sales, leases and rentals of most goods, as well as taxable services. Texas cities, counties, transit authorities and special purpose districts have the option of imposing an additional local sales tax for a combined total of state and local taxes of 8 1/4% (.0825). The local sales tax is used in Edinburg to help pay for many city services, while the Edinburg EDC uses its one-half cent local sales tax to help generate economic development in the city. The amount of local sales taxes collected also helps reflect the strength of an economy, along with construction activities, per capita income, education, historical performances, and related trends. 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, Elías Longoria, Jr., Harvey Rodríguez, Jr., Richard Rupert, and Dr. Peter Dabrowski.

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Edinburg’s retail economy leading major Valley cities in rate of growth during first eight months of 2016

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

Edinburg’s retail economy from January through August 2016 has improved more than 4.6 percent, which is the best showing of all major Rio Grande Valley cities, and better than the statewide average of a 1.1 percent increase of all cities in the state, according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

For the month of August 2016, Edinburg’s retail economy – as measured by local sales taxes generated from purchases of eligible goods and services – also remained healthy, showing an almost two percent improvement over the month of August 2015.

Those figures are based on sales made in August 2016 by businesses that report tax monthly, according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

The local sales tax data is among the latest economic barometers featured in a detailed summary provided by the state comptroller’s office, which released retail sales figures on Wednesday, October 12, 2016.

Among its many duties, the Texas Comptroller’s office is the state’s chief tax collector, accountant, revenue estimator and treasurer.

The local sales tax is used in Edinburg to help pay for many city services, while the Edinburg EDC uses its one-half cent local sales tax to help generate economic development in the city.

The amount of local sales taxes collected also helps reflect the strength of an economy, along with construction activities, per capita income, education, historical performances, and related trends.

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, Elías Longoria, Jr., Harvey Rodríguez, Jr., Richard Rupert, and Dr. Peter Dabrowski.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced on Wednesday, October 12, 2016 that cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts combined generated $650 million in local sales tax in August 2016, 5.5 percent more than in August 2015.

“The cities of San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano and McKinney saw noticeable increases in sales tax allocations,” Hegar said. “The cities of Houston and Midland saw significant decreases in sales tax allocations.”

Among the Valley’s largest cities, Edinburg’s retail economy from January through August 2016 was 4.64 percent better than January through August 2015, with Harlingen posting the best rate of increase for that same eight-month period, with a 2.56 percent improvement.

For the month of August 2016, Edinburg’s retail economy was 1.84 percent better than August 2015.

Harlingen had the best showing for all major Valley cities for the month of August 2016, registering a 9.98 percent improvement over August 2015.

Based on local sales taxes generated, McAllen had the best showing in terms of revenue for August 2016 ($4,681,802.99), followed by Brownsville ($2,954,272.64), Harlingen ($1,808,509.02), and Edinburg ($1,702,561.82).

During the first eight months of 2016, Edinburg’s retail economy produced $17,592,870.93 in local sales taxes, compared with $16,812,351.02 for January through August 2015, representing an improvement of 4.64 percent.

For August 2016, Edinburg’s retail economy generated $1,702,561.82 in local sales taxes, compared with $1,671,788.87 during the same period in 2015, representing the improvement of 1.84 percent, also according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

The sales tax, formally known as the State Sales and Use Tax, is imposed on all retail sales, leases and rentals of most goods, as well as taxable services. Texas cities, counties, transit authorities and special purpose districts have the option of imposing an additional local sales tax for a combined total of state and local taxes of 8 1/4% (.0825).

HOW OTHER VALLEY CITIES, COUNTIES PERFORMED FOR AUGUST 2016 AND JANUARY THROUGH AUGUST 2016

Based on the amount of sales taxes generated, according to the state comptroller’s office, the Valley’s major cities ranked accordingly in the following local sales tax figures for August 2016 and January through August 2016:

August 2016 compared with August 2015

McAllen: $4,681,802.99, down 1.29 percent compared with August 2015 ($4,743,107.24);
Brownsville: $2,954,272.64, up 8.33 percent compared with August 2015 ($2,726,877.29);
Harlingen: $1,808,509.02, up 9.98 percent compared with August 2015 ($1,644,280.70);
Edinburg: $1,702,561.82, up 1.84 percent compared with August 2015 ($1,671,788.87);
Pharr: $1,317,280.55, down 18.95 percent compared with August 2015 ($1,625,313.23);
Mission: $1,234,395.85, down 6.11 percent compared with August 2015 ($1,314,837.51); and
Weslaco: $862,804.81, up 5.66 percent compared with August 2015 ($816,520.77).

January through August 2016

McAllen: $50,646,735.24, down 4.04 percent compared with January through August 2015 ($52,783,331.22);
Brownsville: $31,074,563.19, up 2.52 percent compared with January through August 2015 ($30,309,280.63);
Harlingen: $18,906,302.78, up 2.56 percent compared with January through August 2015 ($18,432,793.73);
Edinburg: $17,592,870.93, up 4.64 percent compared with January through August 2015 ($16,812,351.02);
Pharr: $14,016,450.77, up 2.40 percent compared with January through August 2015 ($13,687,462.00);
Mission: $12,653,545.06, down 0.50 percent compared with January through August 2015 ($12,717,235.93); and
Weslaco: $9,768,272.94, down 1.26 percent compared with January through August 2015 ($9,893,215.14).

All cities in Hidalgo County reported a total of $11,876,805.88 in local sales taxes during August 2016, compared with $12,426,919.88 in August 2015, a decrease of 4.43 percent. Year-to-date (January through August 2016), all cities in Hidalgo County registered $126,849,374.83 in local sales taxes, compared with $127,580,524.84 for the same eight months in 2015, a decrease of 0.57 percent.

Hidalgo County government does not collect a local sales tax.

All cities in Cameron County generated $5,940,331.96 in local sales taxes during August 2016, compared with $5,509,355.02 in August 2015, an increase of 7.82 percent. Year-to-date (January through August 2016), all cities in Cameron County registered $61,138,701.92 in local sales taxes, compared with $59,302,198.24 for the same period in 2015, an improvement of 3.09 percent.

Cameron County government does not collect a local sales tax.

All cities in Starr County produced $371,844.61 in local sales taxes during August 2016, compared with $358,186.06 in August 2015, an increase of 3.81 percent. Year-to-date (January through August 2016), all cities in Starr County registered $4,488,598.02 in local sales taxes, compared with $4,514,630.99 for the same period in 2015, a decrease of 0.58 percent.

Starr County government does not collect a local sales tax.

All cities in Willacy County produced $110,127.99 in local sales taxes during August 2016, compared with $119,517.15 during the same month in 2015, a decrease of 7.85 percent. Year-to-date (January through August 2016), all cities in Willacy County registered $1,252,673.51 in local sales taxes, compared with $1,289,398.54 for the same period in 2015, a decrease of 2.85 percent.

Willacy County government does not collect a local sales tax.

For details of the August 2016 local sales tax figures for all cities, counties, transit systems, and special purpose taxing districts, locate the Monthly Sales Tax Allocation Comparison Summary Reports at the comptroller’s website:

https://www.comptroller.texas.gov/transparency/local/allocations/sales-tax/

STC’S INNO CONFERENCE, WHICH INCLUDED EDINBURG EDC AS A SPONSOR, BECOMES CRITICAL RESOURCE FOR DEVELOPING ENTREPRENEURS IN THE REGION

As an educator, Pamela Lang says she sees many students who are eager to start businesses in the Rio Grande Valley. What is astounding, she says, are those students who are getting a head start while still completing high school.

“They want to see the community grow, and they want to bring business in from Austin, Houston and all the big cities,” said Lang, a business teacher at McAllen Memorial High School who teaches entrepreneurship to students. In her class, students go through the process of creating a business and develop it from beginning to end.

“They determine whether they need to create a business plan, business concept, advertising, marketing or where they can get investors,” said Lang, who bring years of experience through her time in Human Resources, DPS, City of McAllen and Doctors Hospital at Renaissance.

“I get to take all of those real world experiences to my students and let them know what it looks like when they enter the real world,” Lang said. “They begin to ask themselves ‘Is there a need to do an industry analysis?’ Then they gather information from all over the United States and say ‘Hey, this type of industry will work here.’ That’s a real world perspective they bring into the classroom.”

Lang was among those present when South Texas College kicked off its annual binational effort to promote entrepreneurship and business locally and south of the border.

The 4th Annual Binational Innovation Conference (INNO 2016), which took place on Friday, October 14, 2016 in McAllen, focused on Binational Entrepreneurial Innovation. INNO is the name of the bi-national collaborative effort between STC and El Instituto Internacional de Estudios Superiores in Reynosa, Mexico.

“I think this is very useful. We’re getting to hear people from Reynosa and from South Texas College, EDC directors, and it’s important for the kids to know that McAllen is growing and there are opportunities available for them,” Lang said. “A lot of them think they have to leave the area to do something big, and I think it’s important to gather information to give back to our students. We need to let them know that they can do something here, and something big.”

The INNO Conference provides entrepreneurs and the business community with information about the new cross-border economic opportunities that could arise so they are enabled to develop new business plans, and adjust existing strategies to potential opportunities. The conference consisted of speakers, sessions and student workshops, all designed to foster cross-border economic development.

Notable speakers at the event included Amy Jordan, a business economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, who gave an economic outlook of the South Texas region; Dr. John Sargent, a professor of International Business and Entrepreneurship at the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, speaking about entrepreneurial innovation in higher education; and Joaquín Spamer, president of Consejo Binacional Para El Fomento Económico de Reynosa (COBIFER), speaking about cross border entrepreneurial innovation.

“The conference is all about trying to inform the public what it takes to become an entrepreneur. We have a lot of individuals in the local community who have ideas, but sometimes don’t have the tools they need to put these ideas to market,” said Mario Reyna, Dean for Business and Technology at South Texas College. “I think most of the speakers so far are talking about exactly what it takes to get your idea to market. Most people have limited resources so what they are saying to them is, even though you have limited resources, you can go to the Chambers of Commerce, the Economic Development Corporations and Angel Investors for assistance.”

INNO will also included a panel featuring representatives from the various Economic Development Corporations (EDCs) in the region talking about entrepreneurial innovation.

“I think it’s critical. We are moving in a really new direction for South Texas. Traditionally, we have been agriculture, tourism and retail. We are now moving into a new sector. We are moving into advanced manufacturing and into research and development,” said Keith Patridge, President of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation. “In order for the community to really understand what is happening, and for students at STC and high school and university to really understand the opportunities that may be developing for them, we really need to address that. I think STC is doing that with these innovation forums each year.”

Letty Reyes, Director of Business Development and Public Affairs, said she and her colleagues with the Edinburg EDC provide a wide range of services, at no charge, to anyone looking to locate or expand their business in their city.

“Many times, we here at the Edinburg EDC serve as an information source to business owners, ranging from a lone proprietor to a large corporation, by helping guide them through the governmental processes required to establish, expand, and succeed in Edinburg,” Reyes said. “How to obtain building permits, going before the City Council or Edinburg EDC Board of Directors, meeting with city department leaders, and other information that will help a business owner prosper and hire more employees, we are here to provide such advice for free.”

The Edinburg EDC is located at 101 N. 10th Avenue, immediately west of the Hidalgo County Courthouse.

The local telephone number is 956/383-7124, while a toll-free telephone number is 1/877-368-3380, while its fax is 956/380.2738.

The email address is info@edinburgedc.com, while the Edinburg EDC.

Two other main sources of information for the Edinburg EDC are its website (http://edinburgedc.com) and its Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/edinburgedc).

Reyes also provided the following summary of the key services and goals of the Edinburg EDC:

ACCESS

We connect you to the right people. Whether it is finding the right talent, necessary capital to grow your business, or connecting you to industry peers, EDC leverages its network of partners to help companies grow in our region. We’ll serve as your advocate with local government agencies, facilitate introductions to industry trade associations, and other private organizations throughout our region.

ADVOCACY

We coordinate and conduct outreach to discuss issues affecting companies’ ability to stay and grow in the region. We work with elected officials, universities, and other policy makers to facilitate your needs whether your concern is workforce, infrastructure, transportation, housing, or another issue.

POSITIONING

We work through local, state, national, and international communication channels to elevate our region, leading industry sectors, and individual companies. Our regularly distributed publications showcase investment in the region and news in a wide spectrum of industries.

BUSINESS RETENTION

We serve local companies by providing assistance with expansion plans, programs to help retain business, and advocating for policies that enhance the region’s economic competitiveness.

BUSINESS EXPANSION

We lead attraction efforts to bring new investment and new companies to the region. We market the region to highlight the incredible talent available and the quality of life that keeps them here. We collaborate with industry associations and economic development partners to develop cohesive approaches to regional issues.

BUSINESS ATTRACTION

We see the big picture. Work with us to determine how your company can take advantage of the unique assets of this bi-national, bi-lingual, region.

Photos:
http://southtexascollege.photoshelter.com/galleries/C0000ROXI979Ykzg/G0000.6.z8PPH4uo

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Joey Gómez and Allison Mansfield 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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