Featured, from left: Precinct 1 Hidalgo County Commissioner A.C. Cuellar, Jr. of Weslaco; Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García; Mayor Richard García; Councilmember J.R. Betancourt; and Mayor Pro Tem Richard Molina. This image was taken on Tuesday, March 8, 2016 in the Council Chamber of Edinburg City Hall.
Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR
The Mayor and Edinburg City Council on Tuesday, March 8, 2016, gave their initial approval to provide a maximum of $30 million – to be spread out over up to 30 years and without raising the city property tax rate – to help in the construction of a $150 million Hidalgo County Courthouse, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. If all goes as planned by the county, construction on the courthouse may begin near the end of this year, if weather permits. The county anticipates a completion date of October 2018. The action took place following a 2 p.m. joint work session with the Hidalgo County Judge and Hidalgo County Commissioners Court, held in the Council Chamber of Edinburg City Hall, and sets into motion a plan that will eventually lead to the construction of a state-of-the-art judicial center, which will be located in downtown Edinburg, next to the current county courthouse complex.
Featured: Rendition of the planned Resaca Market, a major retail and entertainment complex, complete with a hotel, to be located by U.S. Expressway 281/169C and Monte Cristo Road, three miles north of downtown Edinburg. The Resaca Market will feature 500,000 square feet of retail, restaurants, hotel, shopping, entertainment, movie theaters, and more.
Graphics Courtesy of BURNS BROTHERS, LTD.
A hotel and movie theater with a combined value of more than $10 million are under negotiations for the privately-owned and planned 500,000 square-foot Resaca Market retail and entertainment complex in north Edinburg, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. In addition, a third residential subdivision in the upscale La Sienna community – which neighbors the 60-acre Resaca Market site – is approaching final approval from the city to begin construction. The updates about the 726-acre La Sienna Master Planned Community and Resaca Market, which represent the grand vision of Burns Brothers, LTD of Edinburg, came on Tuesday, January 26, 2016, during the public meeting of the EEDC Board of Directors. Todd Gilliland, Project Director of La Sienna, provided the latest news on La Sienna and Resaca Market to the EEDC leadership, which was meeting in the Council Chambers of Edinburg City Hall. 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. Agustín García, Jr. and Mayor Richard García are not related. La Sienna is located along U.S. Highway 281/I69C near Davis Road and Resaca Market is located along U.S. Highway 281/I69C near Monte Cristo Road. Following his presentation during the public portion of the EEDC board meeting, Gilliland provided additional details to journalists who were in attendance. Reporting on what already has taken place at La Sienna and what is in the works for La Sienna and Resaca Market, he expressed optimism that big things will continue to take place for Edinburg which will boost economic development, job growth, and tourism. “I think when the announcements (on the hotel and movie theater) are made, assuming it all comes together, it will be very exciting and (La Sienna and Resaca Market) becomes a true destination,” said Gilliland, crediting Kent Burns of Burns Brothers, LTD of Edinburg with helping promote the family’s inspiration for the ambitious commercial and residential undertakings. “We are not looking to copy what anybody else has done,” Gilliland emphasized. “We are following an idea of creating something different and exciting like everybody talks about but it’s very challenging to put the pieces together.” Regarding Resaca Market, he made it clear that, as in the case of the residential La Sienna, all goals are legitimate and well-thought out. “What we really strive to do is not hype something that is unattainable,” Gilliland emphasized. “That is never our intention. We’d rather work the deals and get them going and make the announcements, rather than promise something that is very difficult to bring about.” Around late spring 2016, movement should accelerate on the hotel/movie theater plans, he predicted. “We would like to see things really start clicking within 90 days,” he said of those two building projects, which will then bring in more retail firms, even residential housing, targeting consumers with money to spend and invest in Edinburg. “Part of Resaca Market is not just commercial shopping and restaurants and hotels and theaters. It’s condominiums and apartments, more of the high-end than you would typically see,” Gilliland explained. “That brings you into the level of having a destination where people will perhaps stop or perhaps come in from Monterrey and want to locate out there.” Tapping into consumers from northern Mexico, specifically Monterrey, which is Mexico’s ninth-largest metropolis with a population of more than one million, is part of the Resaca Market/La Sienna growth strategies, he said. “We know that a tremendous amount of our financial growth comes from Monterrey,” Gilliland said of that economic powerhouse, which is the second-wealthiest city in Mexico and located 140 miles south of Edinburg. “We have some designers who are very familiar, who do business there and who have lived there. We are trying to offer those people an alternative to other places that are overbuilt and very congested at the moment.” Resaca Market has the potential to generate as much as $5 million a year in local sales tax revenue for key public services – additional money that can be used by the Edinburg City Council and EEDC for a wide range of its duties, from public safety, infrastructure improvements and youth programs to economic development and job-creation efforts. The EEDC estimates that once Resaca Market reaches completion, its presence could bring in as much as $300 million a year into the city’s economy.
Featured, from left: Harvey Rodríguez, Vice President, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors; Ellie M. Torres, Secretary/Treasurer, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors; Nelda Ramírez, Assistant Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; and Agustín García, Jr. Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, on Monday, December 14, 2015, when the EEDC hosted a holiday celebration for area residents at its headquarters, located at 101 North 10th Avenue. Photograph By DIEGO REYNA
By his own admission, Harvey Rodríguez, the Vice President of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, says as a younger man, the thought of serving on a city board was not even a passing thought, even though today, his leadership roles in public service also include his status as chairman of the Recreation and Park Board in Edinburg. “Did I ever feel that I would be 33 years old and be serving on the EEDC Board of Directors? If you asked me 10 years ago, there was no way,” said Rodríguez, the youngest appointee on the five-member EEDC Board of Directors. “But I relish this opportunity. I appreciated everyone who supported me through it, and now I have a chip on my shoulder to show that I am extremely capable. I wake up with that attitude every day.” 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, Rodríguez as Vice President, Ellie M. Torres as Secretary/Treasurer, and Mayor Richard García and Richard Ruppert as Members. The mayor and the EEDC executive director are not related. Rodríguez, selected last May by Mayor Pro Tem Homer Jasso, Jr., for a two-year term on the influential EEDC governing board, said his appointment should serve notice to younger adults in the city that their ideas and experiences are essential to the successful running of municipal government and business development in Edinburg. With more than 50 percent of Edinburg’s estimated population of 77,100 aged 29 years and younger as of 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau – and more than 20 percent of the city’s population made up of residents aged 18 to 29 years – Rodríguez inspires residents as young as high school students to set their sights high, beginning with becoming involved with as many role models, community leaders, and business officials as possible. “I always encourage every high school student that if you can get a college scholarship anywhere, they have to go,” said Rodríguez. “There is a lot more outside of the Valley that I exposed myself to through college and travel, so I always tell people to go out there and meet new people.” But don’t stop there, his advice continued. “As cliché as it may be, I would tell them not to take no for an answer,” emphasized Rodríguez. Rodríguez, whose extensive professional credentials include currently serving as South Texas Operations Manager for CAS Companies, LP, took his experience and insights on behalf of the city to a major convention, held in early November 2015 in Dallas, of the International Council of Shopping Centers. Mayor Pro Tem Jasso, along with City Councilmember David Torres, his wife, Ellie Torres, who is Secretary/Treasurer of the EEDC Board of Directors, as well as Agustín García, Jr., the EEDC Executive Director, Letty Reyes, EEDC Director of Business Development & Public Affairs, Diego Reyna, EEDC Research Analyst, and then-Edinburg City Manager Ramiro Garza, Jr., also participated in the three-day event, held on Wednesday, November 4, through Friday, November 6, 2015. The gathering was billed by organizers “as a great opportunity for owners, developers, retailers, brokers, lenders, municipalities, property asset managers and product and service providers to gather under one roof to exhibit, make deals and form successful partnerships.” Edinburg continues to build its reputation as a potential successful market in the eyes of many major retailers, Rodríguez contended, saying he and the city delegation who went to Dallas had more than enough evidence to back up their civic pride. “They know we are a booming market. They know the disposable income (personal income after taxes) in the Valley regardless of the incorrect image that some national news media say about us,” he said. But the city’s selling points speak for themselves, he added. “The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, the UT School of Medicine set to open next fall, our ongoing construction projects such as the Bert Ogden Arena, the 9,400-seat soccer stadium for the Rio Grande Valley Toros professional soccer team, our major transportation corridors including Interstate Highway 69, Tres Lagos, the planned 2,571 acre master-planned community that will be located in the Edinburg school district and which will feature a future campus of Texas A&M University, and more,” Rodríguez recalled the growing and long list of reasons why businesses should stay, expand, or locate to Edinburg. “These achievements make it so much easier to show retail developers and other prospective employers why Edinburg is the place to be.”
Featured, from left: Agustín García, Jr., Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; Mayor Richard García; Claudio Motta, Operations Manager, Santana Textiles; R. Delfino Neto, President, Santana Textiles; Roberto Cantú, Chief Executive Officer, Santana Textiles, and Leticia Flores, Office of Texas Governor Greg Abbott. They were among a large contingent of political, business and community leaders who participate in the ribbon cutting, held on Thursday, November 19, 2015, celebrating the start of the first phase of a corporate investment of $50 million in north Edinburg. Photograph By DIEGO REYNA
For the second consecutive month this year, Edinburg and McAllen shared the lowest unemployment rate among the Valley’s major economies, both coming in at 4.9 percent for October 2019, which also was the best showing for Edinburg for that month since October 2008, which also posted a 4.9 percent figure, 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. Also according to the latest data, which was released on Friday, November 20, 2015 by the Texas Workforce Commission, there were more than 35,000 people employed in Edinburg during the month of October 2015. 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 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000). Edinburg’s October 2015 figure of 4.9 percent continues a year-long pattern of positive reports: September (4.9 percent); August (5.1 percent); July (5.4 percent); June (5.1 percent); May 2015 (4.8 percent); April 2015 (4.6 percent); March 2015 (4.8 percent); February 2015 (4.8 percent); and January (5.1 percent). EEDC Board President Iglesias said new businesses, both small and large, continue to build or locate in Edinburg, which will result in continued job creation in the city.“On November 17, 2015, the Marriott Towne Place Suites broke ground near the intersection of Trenton Road and and I69,” Iglesias said. “This four-story, 95-room hotel represents a $10 million investment and will create 20 to 30 full time jobs when it opens for business in the fall of 2016, the same time the the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine in Edinburg begins its first semester – and with it, create more jobs as well.” In another related development, the Thursday, November 19, 2015 ribbon-cutting ceremony for Santana Textiles will lead to the creation of 300 high-paying jobs, according to the economic development contract signed by Santana Textiles with the EEDC. Agustín García, Jr., Executive Director for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, noted the importance of the project for the entire community, including farmers, the region’s university and South Texas College. The project also garnered a contribution of more than $1 million from the Texas Governor’s Office. The massive operation, with production buildings longer than a football field, is the only one of its type in Texas. Mayor García called it one of the city’s crown jewels, joining the list of ongoing projects such as the Bert Ogden Arena and a soccer stadium as well as the regional medical school and university. “These are investments that are calculated, studied. This investment right here was very minimal,” the mayor said of the city’s financial contribution, explaining Edinburg is expected to see a $284 million annual return via its economic impact. The Edinburg Santana Textiles facility is expected to become the largest in the country when it begins denim production. Despite challenging conditions in Brazil, the family-owned enterprise has thrived and is now able to use cotton grown in the Edinburg facility’s own region, which also creates additional indirect jobs. “The good news is they’re also very cognizant of our community; very compassionate about the people that live here and they’re very careful to be hiring across the board,” said Mayor García. “They hire veterans. They hire mobility-impaired individuals. They hire a cross-section of the community.”
Featured: Richard M. Hinojosa, who was selected Edinburg City Manager on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 by the Mayor and City Council. Photograph: EDINBURG CABLE NETWORK
After conducting interviews earlier in the month with several outstanding candidates, the Mayor and Edinburg City Council on Thursday, November 10, 2015, unanimously offered the position of city manager to Richard M. Hinojosa, who brings more than 40 years of municipal government experience to help continue leading his hometown on its remarkable growth and economic prosperity. Hinojosa, who accepted the offer pending final negotiations on his contract, will succeed Ramiro Garza, Jr., who announced earlier this year that he would be leaving city employment by January 1, 2016 in order to pursue other endeavors. Pending negotiations, Hinojosa’s first day on the job will be December 2, 2015. One of his first duties will be to find a new Planning and Zoning Director – the city position he currently holds. Mayor Richard García said Hinojosa’s experience speaks for itself. “Mr. Hinojosa is very well rounded as far as knowing how cities function,” the mayor said. “He has the qualifications to keep this well-oiled machine running forward smoothly.” Hinojosa was in the audience in the City Council Chambers at Edinburg City Hall when the mayor and city council returned from executive (closed) session and announced in open session that they had made their choice on who will be responsible for a staff of more than 700 professionals and a $100 million annual operating budget. “I offer the motion to have the city attorney negotiate (the employment contract) with the new city manager, and I select Richard Hinojosa,” said Mayor Pro Tem Homer Jasso, Jr. His motion was seconded by Councilmember J.R. Betancourt, with the mayor, Councilmember Richard Molina, and Councilmember David Torres then also voting for the Jasso measure. “Congratulations, sir,” the mayor addressed Hinojosa, who was seated in the audience. “Would you accept it?” “Yes, sir!” Hinojosa responded, drawing applause from the mayor, city council and audience members. The mayor, who also serves on the Board of Directors of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, said Hinojosa’s selection “offers continuity, which is very important, with all the growth and projects that are in place, and that are moving forward, because they require stability and experience.” The EEDC, of which Agustín García, Jr., is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the 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. Mayor García and EEDC Executive Director Agustín García, Jr. are not related. Agustín García, Jr. noted that Hinojosa has played key roles with numerous EEDC business development efforts. “We have worked with him, from the planning and zoning perspective, on many of the projects of the EEDC, and he is familiar with all of the engineering and other requirements to get things done in Edinburg,” the EEDC Executive Director further illustrated. “He always has worked very well with the EEDC. A function of the EEDC is to help expedite projects, and our first call is to call Planning and Zoning to see what can be done to help these projects get moving,” Agustín García, Jr. continued. “Mr. Hinojosa has always been accommodating and helped us achieve that success, that is one of the reasons EEDC has been triumphant, because we have such a strong working relationship, not only with the city, but with the Planning and Zoning Department.” Equally important, Hinojosa’s selection will allow the new city manager to implement his own vision of public service that will serve very well both his hometown and fellow city staff members. “I am sure that over the years he has developed the efficiencies that he will want to implement as city manager,” Agustín García, Jr. predicted. “He also understands the culture and the morale at City Hall. He knows who performs well. He has done very well.”