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Edinburg’s unemployment rate stays under five percent for March 2015 as $42.7 million Performing Arts Complex opens at UT-Pan American

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Featured, from left: Dr. Dahlia Guerra, D.M.A., Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, the University of Texas-Pan American; Edinburg Mayor Richard García; Kirk Clark and Jeri Clark, patrons of the UTPA arts, on Thursday, April 23, in the reception room of the $42.7 million Performing Arts Complex at The University of Texas-Pan American.

Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

Edinburg’s unemployment rate for March 2015 was 4.8 percent, representing the second consecutive month that the city posted a monthly rate under five percent, with only McAllen being the other major Valley city to come under five percent, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. The EEDC is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. Edinburg’s unemployment rate, as reported by the Texas Workforce Commission, was the best showing for the city during that month since March 2008, when it was reported at 4.4 percent by the state agency. The city’s latest performance also was better than the U.S. unemployment rate for March 2015, which came in at 5.5 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. The latest data represents an increase of 457 jobs in Edinburg when comparing the employment figures for March 2015 and March 2014. In March 2015, there were 35,651 persons employed in Edinburg, compared with 35,194 in March 2014. Those most recent figures, released on Friday, April 19 by the Texas Workforce Commission, came about a week before the Grand Premier of the Performing Arts Complex at The University of Texas-Pan American. On Thursday, April 23, the latest ultra-modern complex in Edinburg formally opened to the public, with a free concert, which included faculty and student performers from both campuses, that attracted not only arts patrons, but also students and community members to the 1,000-seat, state-of-the-art performance hall. Dr. Dahlia Guerra, D.M.A., Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, built on the economic impact theme of the new performing arts conglomerate. “The arts bring so much to a community. It is the heart and soul,” said Guerra, whose brother is Edinburg Mayor Richard García. “The artists bring with them a draw to the community because a city wants to have these opportunities to offer their citizens.” In addition to the cultural aspects of Edinburg that will be enhanced because of the new facility, the financial prosperity of the city also will be increased, she added. “A community that is rich in the arts and rich in culture, it draws business, it draws hotels, it benefits the local economy because people will come to Edinburg to see the events, concerts, art exhibits,” Guerra said. “A rich community will be rich in arts and culture.” The Performing Arts Complex is a $42.7 million investment by the Texas Legislature and the UT System Board of Regents which was the result of successful lobbying several years ago by the Edinburg Mayor, Edinburg City Council, and Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. City officials credit Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, for delivering on the state legislation that resulted in the funding, through the issuance of tuition revenue bonds, for the Performing Arts Complex. Hinojosa shared the praise with his fellow state lawmakers and UTPA leaders, past and present, and reflected on the significance of the Performing Arts Complex. “Today is a momentous day in the history of this campus and of our community. We are opening the most magnificent performing arts center you can imagine,” said Hinojosa, who participated in the public ceremony. “It is wonderful acoustics, incredible lighting and sounds. The most important part to me is that it is an academic performing hall. There are classrooms which are rehearsal halls for our students. Now, they will have the best facilities, and it really does makes a difference when it comes time for performing.” Guerra provided additional details that are designed to make all performances reach world-class levels. “On this stage, there is an incredible amount of clarity. The sound bounces from the stage through the entire auditorium, so the student is required to have very fine-tuning skills to listen carefully and make sure he or she is at the top of their game,” she said. “We will see an improvement in the musical skills of our students.”

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For Sen. Hinojosa, upcoming April 23 premiere of $42.7 million Performing Arts Complex will be one of the latest feathers in his famous legislative hat

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Featured, from left: Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen; Dr. Francisco Fernández, Founding Dean, The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine; Mayor Richard García, who also serves as President of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors; and Richard Molina, Edinburg City Councilmember, at the UT-Pan American Ballroom on Wednesday, February 26, 2014.

Photograph By PEDRO PÉREZ, IV

Almost 10 years after the Texas Legislature first authorized the financing for its creation, the $42.7 million, 1,000-seat Performing Arts Complex at The University of Texas-Pan American will host thousands of area residents during a Thursday, April 23 debut with a Grande Premiere Concert, beginning at 7:30 p.m. (UT-Pan American will be renamed The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley in the fall.) UTPA and UT-RGV leaders are pulling out all the stops to showcase what will be a showpiece among the Valley’s increasing number of impressive centers for musical performances, sports events, and other major gatherings. The State Farm Arena in Hidalgo and the McAllen Convention Center – both publicly-owned entertainment facilities that can serve thousands of patrons per event – now share center stage with the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance, the Bert Ogden Arena, set to begin construction in Edinburg, and now, the Performing Arts Complex that will serve as the heart of the local University of Texas System campus. UTPA officials on Tuesday, April 14, announced that in order to celebrate the highly anticipated grand opening of the state-of-the-art facility, they have planned a spectacular evening of the arts, starting at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 23, and featuring performances by faculty and student artists from UTPA and The University of Texas at Brownsville. Doors open at 7 p.m. for the Grand Premiere Concert, and the public is invited to be part of the free festivities. For more information or if special accommodations are needed to attend the concert, call (956) 665-5301. Mayor Richard García, who also serves as President of the EEDC’s five-member Board of Directors, said the emergence of the Performing Arts Complex will have profound and long-lasting effects on the city council’s and EEDC’s vision for downtown revitalization. “It fits in with our master plan for cultural development for our city,” the mayor said. “With the $42.7 million Performing Arts Complex, as well as the coming construction of the $68 million city-owned Bert Ogden Arena, along with the $54 million UT-RGV School of Medicine’s Medical Academic Building now under construction, and a $70 million UT-RGV science building annex approved to be built on campus, we are making our hometown the center for high-quality, family entertainment venues and educational excellence that not only improve our quality of life, but make it that much more attractive for businesses to expand and locate in our city, and with it, create more jobs and economic prosperity. García also praised the Valley’s state legislative delegation for securing more than $30 million earlier in April for a new engineering building at UT-RGV in Edinburg, a tremendous funding boost that could result in the planned development of a $50 million complex. García, who has built a statewide reputation as a leader who always shares the credit with others on major successes, said he wants one person in particular to be forever linked to the Performing Arts Complex. “We wanted this facility badly, we needed this facility badly, and the big hero on that is Sen. (Juan ‘Chuy’) Hinojosa (D-McAllen),” the mayor said. “I would love to see that facility be named after him. I have told him that in the past, and I will lead that charge because he was largely responsible for the state funding, and fighting to keep that money for the Performing Arts C0mplex.” Hinojosa was the driving force in the spring of 2006, when the Texas Legislature was at work during a special session at the State Capitol. “He was the principal legislative architect who made the state financing possible for this landmark project,” García recalled. “He successfully attached an amendment to a statewide tuition revenue bond bill. His effective move provided the needed financing mechanisms to pay for the Performing Arts Complex, which represents one of the largest infusions of financial resources by the state for new construction at UT-RGV.” Hinojosa emphasized the positive impact of the Performing Arts Complex. “This facility will attract supporters of the arts, quality performers and outside visitors. These benefits will also radiate into the community in other ways,” said Hinojosa. “I am confident the Performing Arts Complex will be top-notch, and it will bolster the local economy by attracting jobs and investment, and enrich the cultural life of the Rio Grande Valley. Investments like these are particularly beneficial because they help boost UT-RGV’s profile in the region.”

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