Select Page

Edinburg’s retail economy in November 2014 up 6.69 percent over November 2013 – best improvement rate among Valley’s largest cities

garcia

Featured, from left: Congressman Joaquín Castro, D-San Antonio; and Mayor Richard García, President, Board of Directors, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation.

Photograph by ISMAEL GARCÍA

Edinburg’s retail economy for the month of November 2014 was 6.69 percent better than the same month in 2013, a figure that was best among all major Valley cities, and higher than the growth rates for all cities combined, respectively, in each of the four Valley counties, Mayor Richard García, President, Board of Directors, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, has announced. The EEDC is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council. Based on the amount of local sales taxes collected, which reflects the strength of an economy, Edinburg’s retail sector generated more than $1.5 million in local sales taxes in November 2014, compared with more than $1.4 million in November 2013 – producing the improvement of almost seven percent. Among the Valley’s largest economies, Edinburg’s improvement rate of 6.69 percent was followed by Pharr (5.56 percent), McAllen (5.07 percent), Mission (4.76 percent), Brownsville (4.30 percent); Weslaco (2.79 percent), and Harlingen (-1.57 percent). In addition, from January through November 2014, Edinburg’s retail economy maintained a double-digit upswing over the same 11-month period in 2013, generating $16,848,135 in local sales taxes, compared with $15,292,818 for January through November 2013 – a rise of 10.17 percent. This latest data was released on Wednesday, January 7, by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. The local sales tax figures represent sales reported by monthly filers in November sent to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts in December, and returned as sales tax rebates to the respective local government entities in January. The local sales tax is used in Edinburg to help pay for many city services, while the EEDC uses its one-half cent local sales tax to help generate economic development in the city. Augustín “Gus” García, the EEDC’s Executive Director for the Edinburg Economic Development, said the performance of the city’s retail economy for 2014 has come from a combination of proven leadership by the Edinburg City Council and EEDC Board of Directors, the strategies they have developed and put into place through the city and EEDC staffs, and by the vision of business owners and their employees in the city to provide high-quality goods and services that draw consumers from Edinburg and beyond “EEDC’s projects constantly bring together leaders who craft state policy, influence economic advancement and have the capabilities to effect change at a regional and global level. EEDC works with them to promote leadership, information exchange, training and experience,” García said. “The future of Edinburg lies before us, fraught with issues, yet poised with promise. On the threshold of a new turning point, 2015, we are presented with limitless opportunities.”

(more…)

Tom Schieffer, Democratic gubernatorial candidate,"will do everything" he can to bring Valley VA Hospital

 

On the eve of Veterans Day, Texas gubernatorial candidate Tom Schieffer – featured fourth from left – a Democrat from Fort Worth, told South Texans that he "will do everything" he can to persuade the federal government to build a Veterans Affairs Hospital in the Rio Grande Valley. His pledge to work towards bringing a VA Hospital to the Valley came as part of his latest visit to South Texas. Schieffer was in the three-time All-America City for a round of meetings with area political, business, and community leaders before capping off his visit with a fundraiser early Tuesday evening, November 10, at Edwards Abstract and Title Co., located at 3111 W. Freddy González Drive. "Such a facility is long overdue, and I will do everything I can to assure that Washington is listening. Failing to provide proper health care for our veterans makes it more difficult to recruit our next generation of service men and women, and it breaks a sacred trust between our government and those who were willing to put themselves in harm’s way to protect our country," said Schieffer, a former U.S. Ambassador to Australia and Japan. Featured with Schieffer in Edinburg are from left: Rosalie Weisfeld; Hidalgo County District Judge Juan Partida; Justice of the Peace Mary Alice Palacios; Tom Schieffer; Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg; Hidalgo County Democratic Party Chairwoman Dolly Elizondo; former Hidalgo County District Judge Fernando Mancias; former Rep. Cullen Looney, D-Edinburg; and Keely Lewis and her husband, Byron Jay Lewis. See lead story in this posting.  

•••••• 

President Barack Obama, left, and Army Brig. Gen. Karl Horst, commander of the U.S. Army Military District of Washington, stand during Veterans Day services at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va., on Wednesday, November 11.  Earlier that day, the FBI announced that it continues to work closely with the Department of the Army in the joint, ongoing investigation into the tragic events that occurred on Thursday, November 5 at Fort Hood. Twelve U.S. military personnel were killed and 31 other people were injured during a massacre allegedly undertaken by Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who reportedly opened fire at a military processing center at Fort Hood around 1:30 p.m. that afternoon. See story later in this posting. 

•••••• 

The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce recently welcomed Cynthia Bocanegra as its chairman, along with the rest of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce’s 2009-2010 Board of Directors. Chairman-elect is Johnny Rodríguez, and immediate past chair is Lee Castro.  The Board of Directors also held their first planning session and board meeting to discuss the Chamber’s program of work. Large events such as Fiesta Edinburg, Night of Lights and Texas Cook’em are currently being strategized to offer the Rio Grande Valley and the City of Edinburg quality of life events fun for the entire family. The organization’s leadership also oversees membership  and tourism events as well the governmental affairs events and luncheons. “I am honored to serve as Chairman of the Board, I feel strongly that if we all work together and strive for the same objectives, we will all benefit from the growth and opportunities that will arise. Your continued support is vital to our success. Help make Edinburg a better city for you and me. Join me in making this our best year yet” said Bocanegra. Board directors featured are, front row, from left: Maggie Kent with General Dentistry Center; Darcy Kelly with Peter Piper Pizza; Johnny Rodríguez with Austin Personnel Services; Cynthia Bocanegra with Chaps Bar & Grill; Edna Peña with Horizon Properties; Flo Prater with Rio Valley Realty. Standing, from left: Lee Castro with Memorial Funeral Home; Toribio “Terry” Palacios, Edinburg Municipal Court Judge, with the Law Offices of García Quintanilla & Palacios; Elias Longoria with Lone Star National Bank; Robert McGurk with Elsa State Bank and Trust Co.; Manny Mantrana with the University of Texas-Pan American Athletics; Naomi Perales with South Texas Gas Service; Dina Araguz with IBC Bank; Marissa Castañeda with Doctors Hospital at Renaissance; and Gus Casas with G&S Glass. (Not pictured: Pamela Dougherty with Security land Title Co.; Thelma García with First National Bank; and Abel Leal with Edward Jones Investments.) For more information on the Chamber of Commerce, please call 956/383-4974 or go online at http://www.edinburg.com or http://www.facebook.com/edinburgchamberofcommerce. 

•••••• 

Joining the other Corporate Partners of the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is Al Treviño, owner of Tico’s Mexican Restaurant, which has locations at 5000 N. 23rd Street in McAllen, 1424 E. Ridge Road in Edinburg, and 519 S. Sugar Road in Edinburg. “My desire to give back to the community is by becoming a Corporate Partner of the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as this organization helps the community in many ways. It assists the business community by helping businesses get started and/or to expand their business, offers workshops that focus on health, business issues, and government related issues and also concentrates on education," said Treviño. He has been in the restaurant business for 33 years.  Featured, first row, from left: Roxanna Godínez; Albert Treviño; Rubén Garza; and Brenda Lee Huerta. Back row, from left: Dr. John Thomas; Beto Manrique; and Hari Namboodiri. For information on becoming a Corporate Partner or a member of the McAllen Hispanic Chamber,  call 928-0060. 

(more…)

Texas veterans denounce Texas Monthly’s attack on Rep. Flores for fighting for disabled war heroes 

Rep. Ismael "Kino" Flores, D-Palmview, flanked by leaders of local veterans’ groups, on Thursday, June 11, explained why he took on powerful legislative enemies in order to get his bill passed that will provide up to a 100 percent home property tax break for thousands of disabled veterans. "We veterans, we don’t leave anyone behind, and I wasn’t about to leave these veterans behind," Flores said during a press conference organized by the Veterans Alliance of the Rio Grande Valley. The group chose the Rio  Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery in Mission as the site for the news event, noting that Flores had also been the principal architect in bringing the state veterans cemetery to the Valley. Despite behind-the-scenes legislative opposition to his measure, Flores, a U.S. Army veteran, outmaneuvered his  political rivals and passed the veterans’ home tax break. Flores praised Texas veterans groups for playing a key role in the measure’s hard-fought success.  See lead story later in this posting. 

•••••• 

Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, featured first on right, was rated as one of the best state lawmakers in Texas by Capitol Inside, a non-partisan web site news service has been a big hit with Republicans, Democrats and diehard independents as well since making its debut online in January 2003. At the conclusion of each legislative session, several political publications and websites name best and worst performers based on their service to their districts and the state. This year, Capitol Inside and political strategists Ted Delisi and Harold Cook compiled top ten lists, each naming Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, as one of Texas’ top ten legislators. Capitol Inside referred to Hinojosa as a veteran legislator that "just keeps getting better."  The Delisi/Cook list noted Hinojosa’s ability to secure funding for District 20 projects, including highway infrastructure, and millions of dollars for health care delivery services. From left, during a recent visit to the Capitol, are Hidalgo County Treasurer Norma G. García, Hidalgo County District Clerk Laura Hinojosa (no relation to the senator), Hidalgo County County Clerk Arturo Guajardo, Jr., and Hinojosa. See story on the Capitol Inside ranking later in this posting. 

•••••• 

South Texas firefighters were among the dozens of area groups which visited state lawmakers at the Capitol during the recently-concluded five month regular session. On Wednesday, April 1, a Valley delegation brought their issues to Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville. Featured with Lucio, in his office, are, from left: Manuel Vargas, McAllen; Raul R. Zúñiga, Jr., San Benito; Javier Gutiérrez, McAllen; Lucio; Ramón Martínez, San Benito; Jesús Tijerina, San Benito; and Ernest Abrego, Harlingen. Later in this posting, Lucio writes about several key measures approved by the Legislature that will benefit another key constituency – military veterans.  

•••••• 

The Convention Committee of the McAllen Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is finalizing plans for the 34th annual Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce (TAMACC) Convention, which this year will be held at the McAllen Convention Center from July 29 through August 1.  The theme to the convention is “Growing Hispanic Business, for a Stronger Texas Economy”. Featured, front row, from left:  Sam Guzmán, TAMACC president;  Froy Garza with Congressman Henry Cuellar’s office; and Salomon Torres with Congressman Ruben Hinojosa’s office. Back row, from left: Rick Carrera, University of Texas-Pan American Small Business Development Center; Dr. John Thomas, MHCC board of directors; Mark Winchester, UTPA’s Director of the Rio South Texas Regional Procurement Technical Assistance Center; Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, MHCC Pres/CEO; Letty Flores with Gov. Rick Perry’s office; Margie Treviño, Southern Minority Supplier Development Council; and María Juárez, UTPA Director of the Small Business Development Center. See story later in this posting. 

•••••• 

The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce will host a Power Punch @ Lunch on Wednesday, June 24 at the Depot, located at 602 W. University Drive, sponsored by Doctors Hospital at Renaissance (DHR). The business community of Edinburg and the Rio Grande Valley are invited to attend the free networking luncheon from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Persons who attend are being asked to bring their business cards to distribute during the chamber’s most notable social-networking luncheon, which includes food, door prizes and fun. Area residents interested in attending should RSVP by calling 956/383-4974. Featured, from left: Joanna Álvarez, DHR Assistant Director for Marketing; McAllen City Commissioner Jim Darling, who serves as DHR’s legal counsel; Mario Lizcano, DHR Director for Marketing; Marissa Castañeda, DHR’s Chief Operations Officer; and Frank Lara, Membership Director, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce.  

(more…)

Texas Monthly ignores Valley lawmakers’ successes, again puts Hispanics in negative light, says Rep. Flores

The nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit appears to have caused some confusion among members of the media and news consumers, according to the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. That organization is encouraging news organizations to avoid any confusion over Sotomayor’s ethnic background. Her Puerto Rican parents are not immigrants, as some journalists have reported, since island-born residents are U.S. citizens, conferred by an act of Congress in 1917. "People who move to the U.S. mainland from Puerto Rico are no more immigrants than those who move from Nebraska to New York," said Iván Román, NAHJ’s executive director. "Her nomination to replace Justice David H. Souter represents the possibility of the first Latino sitting on the nation’s highest court. As the debate over her qualifications develops, NAHJ would encourage the highest form of discourse." Sotomayor, 54, is featured here on May 26 with President Obama and Vice President Biden following her nomination by the president to the U.S. Supreme Court.

••••••

Congressman Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, featured here, third from right, during an unrelated photograph with constituents and then-President Bush, on officially launched the Congressional Media Fairness Caucus (MFC) to counter what he says is media bias. The purpose of the MFC is not to censor or condemn, but to encourage the media to adhere to the highest standards of reporting and to provide the American people with the facts, balanced stories and fair coverage of the news, Smith contended. A study by the nonpartisan Center for Media and Public Affairs found that network news programs gave President Obama more than three times the coverage that they gave former President George W. Bush early in his presidency, Smith noted. See related story later in this posting.

••••••

Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg, featured here, front row, second from left, with fellow members who first came into the Texas Legislature with him about six-and-a-half years ago, on Friday, June 5, declared that legislation authorizing the establishment of a medical school in the Rio Grande Valley was his and the region’s number one legislative priority. "The Rio Grande Valley has been long underserved in access to healthcare and health care providers," said Peña. "The establishment of a medical school and health science center will not only serve to bridge that gap but it has the power to transform our economy. I applaud Sen. Eddie Lucio for his leadership, our legislative delegation and community and business leaders for all their efforts. While we can relish this achievement we have a lot of important work ahead to ensure that the facility is fully funded and world-class." See story later in this posting.

••••••

The employees of South Texas College have been recognized by the United Way of South Texas for being the most charitable among all staffs at state agencies across the Rio Grande Valley, including outperforming other major universities and state offices. STC employees pledged more than $40,000 through the 2008 State Employees Charitable Campaign (SECC), administered by the United Way of South Texas. The college merited the SECC Lone Star Award for its effort. Featured, representing STC and UWST, are, from left, front: Gloria Ann Hernández, community relations public sector campaign for UWST; Thelma Garza, UWST president; and Diana Peña, vice president of Finance and Administrative Services for STC. Back row, from left: Dr. Shirley A. Reed, president of STC; Jeff Heavin, instructor, STC Human Resources Specialist Program; and Shirley Ingram, Director of Human Resources for STC. See story later in this posting.

••••••

(more…)

Disabled veterans’ home property tax breaks, Valley VA Hospital plan, posting big victories in Legislature

Paul Cowen, longtime chief-of-staff for Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville, and an alumni of then Pan American University, on Monday, June 1, was honored by the Senate for his legislative work on behalf of the Valley and Texas. Cowen will be leaving his Senate post on August 31. “Paul has been the most loyal employee and friend. His enormous contributions to state government and to the people of District 27 will never be forgotten,” said Lucio. “His work has been exemplary and of the highest quality, and as one of the Texas Senate’s most valuable employees, he will be greatly missed by all of us.” See story later in this posting.

••••••

“Little Women” author Louisa May Alcott once said, “helping one another is part of the religion of sisterhood.” No need to tell that to the “Trigo sisters” of Edinburg, as they have come to be known in the College of Education at The University of Texas-Pan American. The three siblings – featured from left, Elda Trigo, Armidia Trigo Ríos, and Iliana Trigo – all celebrated earning their master’s degrees at the same time in the same field – bilingual education – at one of three UTPA commencement ceremonies held May 9 at the McAllen Convention Center. See story later in this posting.

••••••

Julissa Barrera, shown second from left, learned over her years as a student at The University of Texas-Pan American that leadership requires creativity, determination and perseverance. For her final project as a member of the four-year Student Leadership Program at the university, Barrera created, researched and implemented a drive in which she successfully collected nearly 8,000 diapers to give to clients of AVANCE Rio Grande Valley, a local nonprofit agency providing services to lower income Valley families. Featured at a recent ceremony to present diapers to AVANCE RGV collected as a part of a UTPA Student Leadership Program senior project are, from left: Noelia Telles, family service coordinator for the Parent/Child Education Program, AVANCE RGV; Julissa Barrera, who graduated this spring; Cecilia Quiroga, parent educator for the Parent/Child Education Program, AVANCE RGV; and Teresa González, supervisor of family programs, AVANCE RGV. See story later in this posting.

••••••

Top leaders with South Texas College and Texas A&M-Kingsville recently signed an agreement to ease the transfer of students studying education. Featured, seated from left, are: Steven Tallant, TAMUK president; Juan E. Mejia, STC vice president for academic affairs; and Ali Emaeili, STC dean for bachelor programs and university relations. Standing, from left, are: Marilyn J Bartlett, TAMUK dean of the College of Education; Art Montiel, chair of STC’s Education Department; and Mike F. Desiderio, TAMUK chair for education. See story later in this posting.

(more…)