Featured: In this image taken on Tuesday, October 27, 2015, construction continues on schedule of the $54 million, 88,000 square foot University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine Medical Academic Building in Edinburg.
Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR
Just weeks after The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley officially opened its first fall semester, more outstanding news came to Edinburg and the Rio Grande Valley, said Mayor Pro Tem Homer Jasso, Jr. On October 16, 2015, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine announced it is now recruiting its inaugural class of students, after receiving preliminary accreditation from the federally recognized Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). The LCME designation allows the UTRGV School of Medicine to function as a medical school and implement its academic programs and curriculum. Scheduled to open in Fall 2016, the UTRGV School of Medicine plans to enroll 50 students into its charter class. “As part of the UTRGV campus in Edinburg, we are home to the first new academic building for the upcoming medical school, and UT System leaders have said there is room for more medical school facilities at our local campus in the future,” said Jasso. “These amazing developments just don’t happen on their own – it takes leadership and teamwork by everyone who is dedicated to bringing the resources we have earned to our home region.” With the Edinburg campus this fall bustling with action, including more than $150 million in ongoing and planned new construction, key city leaders are praising the landmark advances that highlight the historic first semester of UTRGV, whose largest campus is in Edinburg. “Since the first moment in 1927 when Edinburg Junior College was founded to opening day on Monday, August 31, 2015, when The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley opened with it first day of classes, generations of South Texans were able to receive a higher education that is first-class,” said Mayor Richard García. “Now, we are well on the way to creating, here in Edinburg and throughout the Valley, a university that will become world-class – among the best in the world.” García, who also serves as a member of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, said that a revolution is taking place at the 318.1 acre local campus (with plans by the UT System to soon expand by another 53 acres) that deserve constant and deserving attention. Throughout its history, Edinburg Junior College, which then would become Pan American College, Pan American University, UT Pan American, has had many of the best students, faculty, and athletic and academic programs in Texas, the mayor recalled. “The unprecedented growth that is unfolding before our very eyes is a direct result of the vision, determination, hard work, and incredible successes of the huge number of graduates, citizens, and leaders who, for the past 88 years, have built the powerful foundation which will always support The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley,” said García. The EEDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The EEDC 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. Richard García and Agustín García, Jr. are not related. Iglesias said UTRGV, which also has campuses in Brownsville, Rio Grande City, Harlingen, McAllen, and South Padre Island, draws considerable positive attention to deep South Texas and its people. “In its first semester, UTRGV registered almost 29,000 students Valleywide, with Edinburg being the largest component, both in physical size and enrollment, of any university south of San Antonio,” said Iglesias. “That figure places us among the top 10 largest student enrollments among Texas universities. According to UTRGV, the Fall 2015 total student enrollment among its campuses is 28,583. Iglesias said UTRGV – and its predecessor institutions, UT Pan American in Edinburg and UT Brownsville, which were brought together to become UTRGV – benefit from a deep and talented pool of students from deep South Texas. “It’s no wonder that Texas A&M announced in mid-September that they, too, plan to expand their presence in Hidalgo County with a new site a few miles down the road in McAllen from UTRGV,” Iglesias noted. “The UT and A&M Systems, which are among the best in the U.S., recognize what we in the Valley have always known – we have what it takes to be among the very best.”
Featured: Dr. Temple Grandin signed her books for fans on Monday, October 26, 2015, at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Performing Arts Complex on the Edinburg Campus. Photograph By PAUL CHOY
Clad in her trademark authentic Western wear, Dr. Temple Grandin spent the day at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley telling a rapt audience to “look at what people can do, not at what they can’t.” Celebrated in the world of autism and a renowned expert on cattle handling, Grandin signed her many books for a long line of admirers, before and after a 90-minute talk about her life with autism and how to encourage the skills of those on the autism disorder spectrum (ASD) to achieve a productive life. “I want these kids to be successful, I want them to be everything they can be,” said Grandin, who has a Ph.D. and is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University. Diagnosed with autism at age 3, Grandin began her life communicating her frustration with only screams, peeps and hums. Considered “weird” as a youngster, a mentor helped her develop a successful career as a livestock-handling equipment designer. Today, she is one of the world’s most accomplished and well-known adults with autism, and has written a number of best-selling books on that topic, as well as on animal behavior. Her life was featured in the 2010 Emmy award-winning HBO movie Temple Grandin starring Claire Danes. Grandin said her mother encouraged her artistic talents and set her on a path of learning important work and social skills. Grandin had a sewing job at age 13 and at 15 was cleaning out eight horse stalls and a horse barn daily. In college, she did career-relevant internships. And a trip to her aunt’s ranch, when she didn’t want to go, changed her life, she said. “You’ve got to stretch these kids. I’m seeing kids getting babied, they are not doing everything they can do. You’ve got to learn how to work … it creates discipline,” she said. “One geeky kid is going to Silicon Valley to work for Google and another geeky kid is playing video games while on social security, and they are the same geek.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a federal agency, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a federal agency. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less. ASD occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, but is almost five times more common among boys than among girls. CDC estimates that about 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Featured: Staff members with the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation during October 2015 wore pink attire to show their support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. From left are Diego Reyna, Research Analyst; Dalila Razo, Business Manager; Laura Vela, Administrative Assistant; Nelda Ramírez, Assistant Executive Director; and Agustín García, Jr., Executive Director.
Photograph Coordinated By DIEGO REYNA
Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer and second most common cause of cancer-related death among Texas women, the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court announced on Tuesday, October 6. But it’s also important to note that breast cancer doesn’t only affect women, according to the American Cancer Society, which adds that about one in 1,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in his lifetime. This month-long observance, held every October, is dedicated to educating the public about breast cancer, preventative measures, and the importance of early detection. As the month approaches its final days, the EEDC Board of Directors is scheduled to hold its regular public meeting, which will take place at Edinburg City Hall, located at 415 West University Drive, on Tuesday, October 27, beginning at 1 p.m. Among its agenda will be presentations by Santana Textiles, LLC, Annova LNG Gas, and the Edinburg School District. The session, which is open to the public, also will be broadcast live and videotaped on the Edinburg Cable Network, which is available on Time Warner Cable Channel 17, and accessible on the Internet through the Edinburg Cable Network. The EEDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The EEDC 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. Richard García and Agustín García, Jr. are not related.
Featured: Edinburg City Councilmember Richard Molina, addressing constituents at the Edinburg City Auditorium on Wednesday, May 27, 2015, also serves on Edinburg’s Planning and Zoning Commission, which reviews and make recommendations to the City Council on rezoning, special use permits, and subdivisions.
Photograph By MARK MONTE MAYOR
Residential subdivisions in Edinburg are experiencing significant growth in 2015, with the construction of 257 new homes leading the way from January through September of this year. In all, construction and related building activities in Edinburg from January through September 2015 total more than $100 million, with building permits for those 257 new single-family residences valued at more than $37.1 million leading the way, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. The EEDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The EEDC 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. Richard García and Agustín García, Jr. are not related. From January through September 2015, building permits valued at $100,045,966 were issued by the city, compared with $103,901,996 for the same period in 2014. For the month of September 2015, building permits valued at $14,230,592 were issued, compared with building permits valued at $9,863,971 for September 2014. The top categories in Edinburg from January through September 2015 were: $37,102,917 – Single-Family Residences New Construction; $23,765.605 – Non-Taxable New/Alterations (government, religious, but not including the value of construction activities at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley or its School of Medicine); $15,875,178 – Commercial New Construction; $13,227,202 – Commercial Alterations; $5,365,356 – Multi-Family Residences New Construction; and $4,709,708 – Residential Alterations. A building permit includes the estimated value of the work, but does not include the costs of the lot, equipment and furnishings. In general, a building permit is legal permission given by the City of Edinburg to erect, construct, renovate, maintain, or conduct any other specified activity on any building or structure, or on any installations or facilities therein. The term “building permit” includes but is not limited to building permits, electrical permits, mechanical permits, and plumbing permits.
Featured, from left: Keith Patridge, President and CEO, McAllen Economic Development Corporation; Sergio Contreras, Executive Director, Pharr Economic Development Corporation; Agustín García, Jr., Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; Rose Benavidez, Executive Director, Starr County Industrial Foundation; and Julian Álvarez, President, Rio Grande Valley Partnership, on Friday, September 25, participating in a presentation during the South Texas College Inno’ 2015, held at the STC Technology Campus Atrium, Building B, in south McAllen.
PHOTOGRAPH BY DIEGO REYNA
Edinburg’s unemployment rate for September 2015 was 4.9 percent – the same as McAllen – representing the best performances among the Valley’s major cities for that month, and the lowest figure for that month for Edinburg since September 2007, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. Also according to the latest data, which was released on Friday, October 16, 2015 by the Texas Workforce Commission, there were more than 35,000 people employed in Edinburg during the month of September 2015. The EEDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The EEDC 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. The unemployment rate is a key indicator of the strength of the local economy. Edinburg’s latest showing was better than the U.S. unemployment rate for September 2015, which came in at 5.1 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000). In its mission to help create jobs and help private businesses prosper, the Edinburg City Council and the EEDC Board of Directors place a high priority on the importance of a strong education system, said Mayor Richard García. “All that we are, and all that we want to be, one of the keys to our economic successes and quality-of-life is the classroom, and Edinburg has worked smart and hard to become a center of education in Texas,” the mayor said. “Just recently, top leaders from several of our nation’s largest corporations met with our area school district superintendents, in part because these industries recognize that their future, just like that of our nation, also depends on South Texas.” On Monday, October 5, 2015, a large group of public and charter school superintendents from across the Rio Grande Valley met during HESTEC with national government leaders, corporate partners, and administrators and faculty of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, during the Superintendents Leadership Breakfast. HESTEC stands for Hispanic Engineering, Science and Technology Week, an annual weeklong gathering which this year was held from Sunday, October 4, through Saturday, October 10, at the Edinburg campus of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Mark Iglesias, the President of the EEDC Board of Directors, added that the deep pool of talent of Edinburg and South Texas was further emphasized by the attendance of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to HESTEC in Edinburg the following day. “In many ways, HESTEC is part of our homeland security, because HESTEC’s goal to to encourage more South Texas students to become the leaders and professionals in our nation’s STEM fields, from where many of the great scientific breakthroughs come,” said Iglesias. “It is no coincidence that the captains of industry and the titans of politics come to Edinburg and South Texas, because we have what it takes to serve our nation.” Duncan praised HESTEC as a model for the nation in its efforts to expose students to all the opportunities available in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, and for helping prepare students for the workplace. “So many jobs of the future are in STEM fields,” he said. “Our country needs your talents, we need your expertise. We need for you to be the job creators and the entrepreneurs going forward.” As for the Superintendents Leadership Breakfast, it succeeded in its goal to open dialogue and share ideas on how to provide more opportunities for students and ensure their success, said Austin García, Jr., Executive Director for the EEDC. “When one looks at the incredible meetings, presentations, performances, exhibits, and turnout generated by HESTEC, it inspires all of us, not just our students,” said the EEDC Executive Director. “Such major events help let the nation know that South Texas is building on Edinburg’s reputation as ‘The Gateway to the Future.’”