Featured in this image during the Thursday, February 6, 2014 grand opening of the EEDC’s office in downtown Edinburg are, from left: Agustín “Gus” García, Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; Edinburg City Councilmember Richard Molina; Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, and Ramiro Garza, Jr., City Manager, City of Edinburg.
Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR
Edinburg’s unemployment rate for December 2014 was 4.8 percent, the best showing for the city during 2014, and the first time in almost seven years – since January 2008, which also achieved a 4.8 percent unemployment rate – that the city’s economy had registered such a strong figure in the jobs market, Mayor Richard García has announced. The EEDC is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council. The annual unemployment rate in Edinburg for 2014 was 6.15 percent, the best 12-month average from January through December in seven years. Edinburg’s annual unemployment rates since 2005, which is the year in which the state government began preparing those figures using a more accurate formula, have registered as follows: 2014 (6.15 percent); 2013 (7.3 percent); 2012 (7.8 percent); 2011 (8.9 percent); 2010 (8.4 percent); 2009 (6.8 percent); 2008 (5.0 percent); 2007 (4.8 percent); 2006 (5.3 percent); and 2005 (4.9 percent). In deep South Texas, only McAllen registered a better December 2014 monthly unemployment figure than Edinburg’s 4.8 percent, but not by much, as the City of Palms came in at 4.6 percent. The statewide unemployment average in Texas for December 2014 was 4.6 percent, while the U.S. unemployment rate for that month was 5.6 percent. Agustín “Gus” García, Executive Director for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, says the ongoing improvements of the local and regional unemployment rates are tied into the strengths and diversity of the economies throughout deep South Texas. “Edinburg has our medical, educational and governmental sectors which help power our economy, while McAllen has their large manufacturing and retail industries,” he illustrated. “With the scheduled opening in February of the $180 million Santana Textiles denim manufacturing complex in north Edinburg, and with the continuing growth of The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley and its planned School of Medicine in Edinburg, we should see more economic advances for our community and region.” García (no relation to Mayor Richard García) pointed out that the Valley is an economic success story which reaches beyond its four-county boundaries. “We are fortunate as a whole to be in a growing sector of the United States. Recently the Edinburg/McAllen/Mission/Pharr metropolitan statistical area was ranked as the second-fastest growth area in the Texas, and Texas has continually been ranked as the fastest-growing state in the nation,” the EEDC Executive Director continued. “The EEDC’s role as a center of economic development is to harness these opportunities. These and other positive economic achievements reflect the efforts of not only the EEDC Board of Directors and its staff, but also of the city management, and of course, our city leadership: Mayor García and the Edinburg City Council.”
Featured in this image during the Thursday, February 6, 2014 grand opening of Rep. Terry Canales’ District Office in Edinburg, are, from left: Edinburg City Councilmember Richard Molina; Agustín “Gus” García, Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; Fred Palacios, Secretary-Treasurer, Board of Directors, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; Edinburg Mayor Pro Tem Elías Longoria, Jr.; Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg; Erica E. Canales, wife of Rep. Canales; Rachel Borchard, mother of Rep. Canales; Alex Ríos, Director for Rep. Canales’ District Office; and Elva Jackson Garza, Edwards Abstract and Title Company.
Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR
A groundbreaking legislative internship program for qualified students of The University of Texas-Pan American has begun at the Texas Capitol, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, who helped set it in motion, has announced. The fledgling program, featuring five students assigned to five Hidalgo County lawmakers, including Canales, promises to create a new generation of powerful political leaders who will be able to champion many of the dreams of deep South Texas, not just in future years, but during the current 140-day regular legislative session, which runs through the end of May. “The Texas Legislature, which meets every two years, approves hundreds of state laws and policies that affect almost every portion of our lives, from deciding how much of the estimated $200+ billion state budget over the next two years will be invested in the Valley, to acting on the other great issues of the day in Texas, from education reform proposals to anti-tax measures, and dozens more major legislative priorities,” said Canales. Influenced by his experiences in the Legislature, Canales wants more Valley residents to have the opportunity to develop the firsthand expertise needed to excel in the state legislative process. Opening the doors to the corridors of power and knowledge, as is currently being done by other major universities in Texas, is part of his vision. “It’s real simple,” Canales said of his hopes for the UTPA legislative internship program. “If we in the Valley are going to continue building on our influence in the Texas Legislature, we must bring more South Texans into this powerful arena, let them see in person how it really works, and help them take their rightful place as the future leaders of our great state.” The legislative interns currently participating at the Texas Capitol are: Carlos Aguayo of McAllen, serving with the Office of Rep. Óscar Longoria, Jr., D-La Joya; Jacqueline Sandoval of Harlingen, serving with the Office of Rep. Armando “Mando” Martínez, D-Weslaco; Lesley Andrea Marín of Weslaco, serving with the Office of Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg; Johnathan Simcha Weisfeld-Hinojosa of McAllen, serving with the Office of Rep. R.D. “Bobby” Guerra, D-McAllen; and Shawna Miller of Wimberly, serving with the Office of Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr., D-Mission.
From left: Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin; Rep. Poncho Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass; Rep. Rafael Anchía, D-Dallas; Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland; Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg; Rep. Tony Dale, R-Cedar Park; Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Ft. Worth; and Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall, during a legislative hearing in Edinburg in late September 2014.
Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR
Students at The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley would be able to vote this fall on an official athletics nickname for their school, which would best define the image of students, former students, graduates, staff, faculty, and administrators, while still keeping Vaqueros as the mascot, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, featured fourth from right, has proposed. “Holding an election on an issue of such importance – deciding on what the world will call the people of this incredible university – is the ‘American Way’,” he said. On Friday, January 23, the House District 40 lawmaker, who represents the Edinburg campuses of UT-RGV, filed House Bill 901, which would require the UT System to allow students to determine the name by which they will be known. The House District 40 lawmaker represents the largest campus – both in enrollment and physical size – of UT-RGV, along with a major component of the UT-Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine. Under HB 901, the students at UT-RGV, which is also set to open its full-fledged medical school in late summer 2016, would be able to choose from “Broncs”, “Ocelots” and “any other options the university chooses, including nicknames nominated by students and approved by the university.”
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.”
From left: Bernice Espinosa-Torres, Committee Clerk, House Committee on Energy Resources, and Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg.
Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR
Forged search warrants, which were used by the now-disgraced and defunct Panama Unit anti-narcotics law enforcement task force to threaten the innocent in Hidalgo County, would be more difficult to counterfeit under legislation pre-filed on Friday, January 9, by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg. The Panama Unit – created in 2010 and disbanded in January 2013 – was made up of a small group of area law enforcement officers who wound up breaking the law themselves by stealing from, or working with, drug dealers. Canales’ House Bill 644 seeks to close what he contends is a potential legal weakness in the search warrant process, which was prompted by the infamous Panama Unit law enforcement scandal. The House District 40 lawmaker’s HB 644 requires that the name of the judge or magistrate, who are authorized to issue search warrants, must be typewritten on that powerful legal document. “Currently, a search warrant requires a judge or magistrate to sign their name on it, but many people have signatures which are too difficult to make out,” explained Canales, who is a lawyer. The Panama Unit would just scribble names on search warrants, making it difficult to verify because no one could read the judge’s supposed signature. “If our bill would have been a law already, we might have caught the Panama Unit much sooner,” Canales said. The second-term lawmaker added: “The actions of the Panama Unit, whose members have been convicted of their crimes, painted a very unfair and negative image of our law enforcement professionals in Hidalgo County. But this tragic episode shed light on a weakness in the search warrant process, and by passing this measure, a very important improvement can be made in the name of justice and civil liberties.” The plan is being supported by the Texas Municipal Police Association, the largest law enforcement association in Texas, which represents more than 21,000 local, county and state law enforcement officers.