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UTRGV football feasibility committee to hold its first meeting on May 19, announces Rep. Canales


A football feasibility study committee, chaired by legendary coach Mack Brown, will hold an organizational meeting on Thursday, May 19, 2016 during a time and location to be announced later by officials with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, has announced.


“College football has a positive economic impact on a region in many ways, such as through the millions of dollars that would be generated from thousands of visitors coming to the Valley for the games and related activities,” said Canales. “It also is a tremendous marketing tool for UTRGV, which is one of the best universities in Texas in terms of its proud reputation in academics and sports. Football generates excitement on and off the field.”

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National women’s business council taps UTPA students Rebecca Reyes of Edinburg and Gabriela Hernández of Alamo for entrepreneurship program


Featured, from left: University of Texas-Pan American students Rebecca Reyes and Gabriela Hernández, both business management majors, were among 22 students nationwide selected to participate in the 2015 Women’s Business Enterprise National Council’s Student Entrepreneurship Program held in Austin on June 21-26. Photograph By JOSUE ESPARZA

Junior Rebecca Reyes of Edinburg and senior Gabriela Hernández of Alamo, both business management majors, recently spent a week gaining valuable information and mentorship in the prestigious program that aims to foster growth for the next generation of women-owned businesses. The program, which began in 2008, offers tailored curriculum and mentoring from certified women’s business enterprises and Fortune 500 corporate members as well as a pitch competition where the students “sell” their ideas on future businesses. “I competed in the pitch competition,” said Reyes, who expanded her family’s nursery business – Reyes Nursery in Edinburg – into Paraiso Escondido, a venue for events and plant rental company. “I didn’t make it into the next round … but I threw myself out there and gained experience from giving it a shot. One of my mentors right before my competition told me, ‘Fear has no place in your success.’ All the people there were so supportive.” Reyes’ business concept for Paraiso Escondido landed her first place in UTPA’s business plan competition in Spring 2014. Hernández, a first-generation college student, who hopes to be a hospital CEO one day, came home from the conference with a better idea of how impactful networking can be for budding entrepreneurs. “My corporate mentors took me under their wing the whole time. We wouldn’t be able to walk a couple of feet without them running into someone who they had worked with,” she said. “I left the convention with so many business cards, my wallet is filled right now.”

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Dr. Juliet García, former President of UT-Brownsville, named to National Commission on Financing 21st Century Higher Education


Featured, Dr. Juliet V. García, Executive Director of The University of Texas Americas Institute, formerly President of the University of Texas at Brownsville, and one of the members of a national blue-ribbon panel on higher education, the National Commission on Financing 21st Century Higher Education.

Photograph By PAUL CHOUY

Increasing pressure on state budgets, along with changing student demographics and new academic models arising from advances in teaching and learning, create both opportunities and challenges for American higher education. However, without creative new funding policies that expand access to meaningful educational opportunities beyond high school, including increased access made possible by wise use of existing public funds and by partnerships that generate greater private investment, the nation could fall short of the educated population it needs. To address the need for innovative new ideas, the University of Virginia’s Miller Center on Tuesday, March 31, announced the creation of a nonpartisan National Commission on Financing 21st Century Higher Education. With support from Lumina Foundation, the commission will initiate blue-sky thinking to develop policy proposals aimed at providing long-term sustainable finance models for U.S. higher education. Dr. Juliet V. García, Executive Director of The University of Texas Americas Institute, formerly President of the University of Texas at Brownsville, is one of the members of this blue-ribbon panel. The commission will foster a new national dialogue as it works toward a consensus on new policies that have the potential to help the nation meet educational attainment goals. During its deliberations, the commission will explore how public and private dollars can clear the way for innovation, ensure fair educational outcomes for all students, and affordably educate enough people to reach attainment goals. “Thomas Jefferson — the first American president to found a university — felt that individuals ‘endowed with genius and virtue’ should receive an education ‘without regard for wealth, birth, or other accidental condition or circumstance.’ Jefferson’s mission has come to a major obstacle. State support for public higher ed and federal support for student aid both face real limits, so many deserving students are finding it harder to pursue their own educational journeys without running out of financial resources. The commission aims to do something about that,” said William Antholis, Director and CEO of the Miller Center. By commissioning outside nonpartisan research and analyses, the Miller Center’s group will identify creative and practical solutions involving public funding and private capital. Each policy option will be examined for its ability to expand the capacity of states to increase the percentages of residents with high-quality postsecondary credentials. In addition to García, the commission will be led by two former governors and will include other state leaders who have experience working with budgets, presidents of several colleges and universities, and CEOs of some of America’s largest companies.

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Alex Meade, CEO of Mission EDC, to participate with Keith Patridge, President and CEO of McAllen EDC, and Gus García, Jr., Executive Director of Edinburg EDC, in “Economic Development – A Regional Outlook” on Thursday, March 26 at Edinburg Conference Center


Alejandro “Alex” Meade, Chief Executive Officer, Mission Economic Development Corporation.


Alejandro “Alex” Meade, Chief Executive Officer, Mission Economic Development Corporation, will be joining Keith A. Patridge, President and CEO of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation, and Agustín “Gus” García, Jr., Executive Director of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, on Thursday, March 26, in “Economic Development – A Regional Outlook”, hosted by the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. The EEDC is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The event, which is open to the public, will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance, 118 Paseo Del Prado. The gathering, which also will allow business professionals to meet, network, and create opportunities for the companies they represent, costs $18 per person, or $200 for a table of eight, and includes a hot lunch, beverage and desert. For more information or to make a reservation, individuals may call the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce at 956/383-4974. “The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce is looking forward to the gathering of three of the leading economic development professionals in the Rio Grande Valley,” said Elva Jackson Garza, Vice President of Edwards Abstract and Title Company, which is one of the event sponsors, and Vice Chair of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce’s Public Affairs Committee. Public Affairs Luncheons are an initiative introduced in 2006, and have featured popular topics with speakers who cover important community and legislative issues. The vision is to inform, involve and educate chamber investors and civic leaders. “There are several important factors for scheduling the economic development panel. Primarily, the growth and vitality of the Rio Grande Valley have been impacted by the continued work and efforts of the economic development corporations,” Garza explained. “The Valley is poised to experience changes in the educational, industrial, commercial and residential sectors. Bringing these three EDC entities together will help further the regional mindset in the civic, business and community leaders.” Fred Sandoval, City Manager of Pharr and Director of the Pharr Economic Development Corporation, had also been invited to participate in the event, but a schedule conflict prevented his valued participation, according to Ronnie Larralde, Director of Marketing/ Special Events at Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. The Thursday, March 26 session is consistent with the strategies of the Edinburg Mayor, Edinburg City Council, and the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, who have made regional cooperation with other South Texas cities a priority as part of their efforts to promote socioeconomic advances in deep South Texas.

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Edinburg announces construction of $50 million arena that will anchor major new development along U.S. Expressway 281


Edinburg leaders, along with state legislators and top officials with The University of Texas System, were on hand in Harlingen at the UT Regional Academic Health Center on Wednesday, November 20, to participate in the symbolic distribution of almost $200 million for higher education in the Valley, including $124 million that will be used for the first major phase of a UT medical school in Edinburg. “These funds represent the fuel that will begin to power the economic engine that will drive South Texas into the future,” said Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, featured center. “This will unquestionably be the first of many distributions from the Permanent University Fund (PUF) which South Texas has long sought, more so deserved, and is finally receiving, thanks to decades of work by selfless leaders who dared to dream what has become a reality.” Mayor Pro Tem Elías Longoria, Jr. and Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, Provost for the University of Texas-Pan American who also serves as a member of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) Board of Directors, also participated in the public event. “This is just the beginning. The taps have been opened,” said Mayor Pro Tem Elías Longoria, Jr., who attended the mid-afternoon gathering. “This is such great progress for us. We know this is going to happen. And now, we start touching and feeling something solid and concrete. You know that we’re there, or getting there to that point of completion. We’re excited.” Rodríguez shared the sentiments. “It’s incredible. This is an opportunity to bring new students to the Rio Grande Valley, specifically to Edinburg, to ensure that they get an excellent education here,” he said. “In addition, we know that students that get medical degrees in a certain region, and do their medical residencies in a certain region, close to three-quarters of them remain in that region. So that means more doctors for the Rio Grande Valley.” Featured, from left: Ernest Aliseda of McAllen, a member of the UT System Board of Regents; Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., D-Brownsville; Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg; Dr. Robert S. Nelsen, President, The University of Texas-Pan American; Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen; and Rep. Robert “Bobby” Guerra, D-McAllen. See story later in this posting.



Eliminating “Pan American” from the name of the new university/medical school system being developed for the Rio Grande Valley is not required by state law, and would devalue the diplomas of upwards of 70,000 alumni, says former Rep. Roberto Gutiérrez, D-McAllen. The veteran lawmaker, featured here on Thursday, October 24, at the Student Union Building at The University of Texas-Pan American, has shared his reasons in a letter, dated November 29, addressed to Paul L. Foster, Chairman of the UT System Board of Regents. That landmark legislation – which includes the Valley’s other state senators and state representatives as joint authors or cosponsors – requires the University of Texas System to establish a new university and medical school that will combine the talent, assets and resources of UT-Pan American, UT-Brownsville and the UT Regional Academic Health Centers in Edinburg, Harlingen and Brownsville. But first, the new university needs a name, and Senate Bill 24 places the responsibility of selecting the name on the nine-member UT System Board of Regents, which includes Ernest Aliseda of McAllen. SB 24, authored by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and sponsored by Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, was approved earlier this year by the Texas Legislature. “Sadly, there is a broad misconception that SB 24 prohibits keeping the name The University of Texas-Pan American or Pan American,” Gutiérrez noted. “Many alumni have revealed to me that they have not spoken out because they have been led to believe that abolishing that name ‘is a done deal.’ Nothing could be further from the truth.” See story later in this posting.



More than 20 news media outlets from across the state ran stories about The University of Texas System Board of Regents’ unanimous decision on Thursday, November 14, to send $196 million from the Permanent University Fund to South Texas. Francisco Cigarroa, M.D., the Chancellor of the UT System, has helped champion the creation of a UT medical school in the Valley in part by being readily accessible to news reporters. In this image, taken at the UT-Pan American Student Union Building on Thursday, October 24, Cigarroa was interviewed by Laura García, who writes for the Valley Town Crier, the Edinburg Review, and, and Daniela Díaz, who writes for the Monitor in McAllen. The PUF appropriations will construct new facilities in Cameron and Hidalgo counties, including a $70 million Science Building at UT-Pan American and a $54 million UT medical school classroom building in Edinburg, as part of the UT System initiative to establish a new university and medical school in the Rio Grande Valley. The regents’ vote was historic because it marks the first time PUF money will go to South Texas.



On the heels of successful programs to increase funding for research at UT’s emerging research institutions, The University of Texas System Board of Regents unanimously voted Thursday, November 14, to begin a similar program for UT System’s four comprehensive universities. The regents authorized $1 million from the Permanent University Fund to begin the UT System Research Incentive Program for the Comprehensive Universities, or UTrip-CU. The UT System’s comprehensive universities include UT-Brownsville, UT-Pan American, UT-Permian Basin and UT-Tyler. The UTrip-CU money will be used to augment philanthropic gifts that support research at these four institutions. Ernest Aliseda of McAllen, featured third from left in this image taken at UT-Pan American on Thursday, October 24, is one of the nine regents serving on the UT governing board. Featured, from left: Rudy Ramirez, Executive Director, Edinburg Housing Authority; Debbie Crane Aliseda, President, McAllen School Board; Ernest Aliseda, Member, UT System Board of Regents; Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia; Hidalgo County Precint 2 Commissioner Héctor “Tito” Palacios; and Francisco Cigarroa, M.D., Chancellor, The University of Texas System. See story later in this posting.



A new state law to ensure punishment for online predators who use Internet communications to “groom” children for sexual assault will be among the legislative priorities for Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, featured with one of his children, Terry Andrés Canales II. “As a parent, I want to make sure that law enforcement has every tool necessary to catch and prosecute online predators,” he said. “Next session (in 2015), I will work with my fellow lawmakers to pass legislation that will not fall victim to a legal argument that the law violates the First Amendment right of free speech, as we have recently seen. I feel it is of the utmost importance that the Texas Legislature passes a viable and enforceable law to punish online predators in order to protect our children.” The proliferation of child predators using the Internet to target young victims has become a national crisis, according to the Office of the Texas Attorney General. A study shows one in seven children will be solicited for sex online in the next year. See story later in this posting.



Longtime public servant and community activist Elvia Ríos, 64, earlier this fall officially filed for Justice of the Peace Precinct 2, Place 2 in Hidalgo County for the March 2014 Democratic Party primary election. Lupe Silva (Aboud) is her campaign treasurer. Ríos, who was born and raised in McAllen, said if elected, she plans to be a proactive judge who works with educators, community groups, and law enforcement to address situations that lead to the cases heard in court. “My strong sense of fairness and integrity will guide both my campaign and judicial decisions,” Ríos said. “I welcome the community’s input and plan to take advantage of every opportunity to go out and meet the citizens of Precinct 2, Place 2. The time is right for me to give back to my community.” Ríos said she views the Justice of the Peace court as “the people’s court.” The Justice of the Peace Precinct 2, Place 2 covers McAllen, Pharr, San Juan, Alamo, and the City of Hidalgo. JPs perform the functions of a magistrate and conduct inquests. A justice of the peace presides over truancy cases, traffic violations, hears civil suits under $10,000, issues arrest warrants, and performs marriages. See story later in this posting.



The leadership of the 2013-2014 Board of Directors for the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce was recently announced as part of that organization’s work on behalf of the community. The new board members were formally welcomes during the group’s annual Installation Banquet, held at the ECHO Hotel and Conference Center on Thursday, October 24. Dina Araguz, seated, center, who is the immediate past Chair of the Board of Directors, and Robert McGurk, standing, right, is the new Chair of the Edinburg Chamber’s governing board, are featured in this image. “I am very excited about our new Board of Directors,” said McGurk, who is Vice President of Elsa State Bank and Trust Co. in Edinburg. “We have a great group of individuals who are passionate about the Chamber and the City of Edinburg. We will continue to move forward and strengthen our bond with the community, our partners and the members we serve.” Featured, seated, from left: Jennifer Garza, Chief Executive Officer, Edinburg Regional Medical Center; Dina Araguz, Branch Manager, International Bank of Commerce in Edinburg; and Lucy Canales, Partner, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP. Standing, from left: Jacob De León, Funeral Director, Memorial Funeral Home; Martin V. Baylor, Vice President for Business Affairs, The University of Texas-Pan American; and Edinburg Municipal Judge Toribio “Terry” Palacios, Chair-Elect of the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and Senior Partner, Law Office of García, Quintanilla & Palacios in McAllen; and Robert McGurk.McGurk has previously served as a Loaned Executive for United Way of South Texas, the Texas Association of Sports Officials, City of Edinburg Architecture Review Board, Edinburg Kiwanis Board (President), and Weslaco Kiwanis Board (President). He currently serves as the Chairman of the City of Edinburg Planning and Zoning Commission.



More than 170 community members and other local leaders attended the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce’s annual Installation Banquet at the ECHO Hotel and Conference Center, held on Thursday, October 24, which included the appointment of the chamber’s Board of Directors for 2013-2014. Several of the top leaders for the governing board included, from left: Elva Jackson Garza, a former member of the Board of Directors for Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, and Vice President and Marketing Manager, Edwards Abstract and Title Co.; Maggie Kent, Individual Member; and Marissa Castañeda, Chief Operations Officer, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance. Standing, from left: J.J. Flores, Chorizo De San Manuel, Inc.; Greg Martin: Martin Farm & Ranch Supply Inc., Hiren Govind, Best Western Plus-Edinburg Inn and Suites; and Marty Martin, DR – Broker, Rio Valley Realty.



The Board of Directors of the Rio Grande Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce recently attended a strategic planning session, focusing on updating the group’s program of work, updating their image, and improving their member benefits. They discussed the chamber’s mission statement and founding principles, which focus on helping the small business owner.  Since then, the RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has obtained both small and large members from throughout the Valley as well as corporate partners, both local and national.  In refreshing their image, a new chamber logo was approved. More information on the RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and membership is available by calling 928-0060.  The offices are located at 3313 N. McColl Road in McAllen. Featured with the new logo are, front row, from left, RGV Hispanic Chamber of Commerce leaders Jenise Díaz, Vice Chair of Public Relations; Adelita Muñoz, Vice Chair of Women’s Issues; Cynthia M. Sakulenzki, RGVHCC President and CEO; Ronnie Bernal, Chair Elect; Marti Miller, Secretary; and Yoli Gonzalez, Vice Chair of Events.  Back row, from left: Hari Namboodiri, Advisory Board; Travis French, Vice Chair of Small Business & Economic Development; Brent Smith, Treasurer; Pete Morales, Vice Chair of International Affairs and Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, Vice Chair of Education.



Leadership Edinburg (LE) Class XXV recently completed a series of seminars designed to help its members gain knowledge in areas that have a direct impact on their community. One of their goals involves raising money to complete projects relating to the improvement of the historic Southern Pacific Depot, which serves as the home for the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. Featured in this image, taken at the Central Station of the Edinburg Fire Department, are, kneeling, from left: Ramiro Rodríguez, Edinburg Fire Department; Serafín Castro, Magic Valley Electric Cooperative; Karen K. Pittman, International Bank of Commerce; and Frank Arévalo, Elsa State Bank & Trust Co. in Edinburg. Standing, from left: Agustín Lozano, Jr., Bert Ogden Dealer Group; Brittany N. Sawyer, Card Service Providers; Nicolás A. Lerma, Card Service Providers; and Jonathan J. Voje. The University of Texas-Pan American; Stephanie Ozuna, The University of Texas Pan- American; Barbara C. Reynolds, Echo Hotel & Conference Center; Mario García, South Texas Independent School District-BETA; Rogelio E. Chanes, Teach for America-Rio Grande Valley Office; and Mario Lizcano, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance. See story later in this posting.



The City of Edinburg and The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation on Friday, November 1, announced plans for the construction of an events arena to be built just off Interstate 69 Central (U.S. Expressway 281). The announcement, which included Edinburg City Councilmember Richard Molina, featured left, and Edinburg City Councilmember Homer Jasso, Jr. was made during a press conference held at Edinburg City Hall. Mayor Richard H. García noted that not only will this project enhance the economy by millions of dollars but it will also improve the quality of life for Edinburg residents and visitors. “People want to visit and live in cities where they can get educated, where they can work and where they can play. We’ve created more than 3,500 jobs in the last three years, we have the University of Texas-Pan American about to become an even larger UT system campus complete with a medical school. Now, we will also have a place for entertainment.” City leaders say the arena will not only host professional basketball games and other sporting events but will also serve as a location for concerts, graduations and meetings. A name for the arena has not been determined, but the Edinburg mayor says that in itself will create investment opportunities for companies. The 115,799 square-foot arena will be built on 40 acres of land located on the east side of I-69C on Alberta Road. It will feature 8,500 seats and 2,400 parking spaces. The entire property includes nine additional pad sites for the development of a future hotel, restaurants and more parking spaces. Construction cost for the arena is estimated at $50 million with a boost to the local economy of $96 million during the construction phase and $45 million annually once operational. It is expected to create approximately 150 new jobs. See lead story in this posting.

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