Featured: Agustín “Gus” García, Jr., Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, on Friday, September 25, 2015, participates in a panel discussion during the Inno’2015 Transportation Innovation Conference sponsored by South Texas College at its Technology Campus Atrium in McAllen.
Photograph By DIEGO REYNA
The financial statements and practices of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation meet the highest standards that help ensure citizens and the public that the EEDC is properly managing its programs and services, according to an independent audit released on Tuesday, March 22, 2016. The EEDC, which is led by Executive Director Agustín “Gus” García, Jr., is the jobs-creation arm of the Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The audit, which is required by state law, was conducted by Noel Garza, CPA, who has been under contract with the EEDC for the previous five years to perform the financial review. His detailed work, which is available by requesting a copy from the EEDC, covers the fiscal year 2014-2014 activities of the EEDC.
Featured, from left, promoting the “Salute to Small Business” luncheon set for Thursday, January 21, 2016 at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance and which will feature Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos, are, from left: Marty Martin of Rio Valley Realty, who serves as Chairman of the Board for the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; Letty González , President, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; Nelda Ramírez, Assistant Executive Director, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; Mayor Richard García; Elva Jackson Garza of Edwards Abstract & Title Company, who serves as Vice Chair of Public Affairs, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; Agustín García, Jr., Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; and Jacob De León of Memorial Funeral Home, who serves as Vice Chair of Membership, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce.
Photograph By RONNIE LARRALDE
Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos’ upcoming visit to Edinburg on Thursday, January 21, 2016 will provide local leaders and area residents a direct link to Gov. Greg Abbott and will help keep the city’s best legislative interests on a high priority, 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.Agustín García, Jr. and Mayor Richard García are not related. Cascos, a former Cameron County county judge who was sworn in on March 7, 2015 by Abbott as the 101th Texas Secretary of State, will be the featured guest for the “Salute to Small Business” event, which will congratulate and honor more than 20 small business owners in the community. “The event is supported by the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, who are keenly aware of the importance of small business in our economy,” said Elva Jackson Garza of Edwards Abstract & Title Company, who serves as Vice Chair of Public Affairs for the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. “Several of our Edinburg Chamber members are operated by the second-, third- and perhaps fourth- generation families and we want to give them the recognition that they deserve.” Cascos’ appearance will provide South Texas insights into the latest news and developments going on in Texas which are important to small businesses,” said Mayor García, who will welcome the Texas Secretary of State to Edinburg. “He has promised in the past that the economic well-being and future of the Rio Grande Valley are important for all of Texas.” The gathering will take place at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance, located at 118 Paseo Del Prado. With a seating capacity of about 250, interested residents are encouraged to purchase their tickets for the event, which will cover the cost a hot lunch, beverage and dessert. The tickets are $15 apiece or $150 for a table of 8, with a cut-off of 5 p.m. on Tuesday, January 19, set for reservations. For more information or to make a reservation please call the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce at 956-383-4974. “Edinburg, in partnership with our state legislative delegation, has always been a key player in shaping state laws and policies which benefit us here in deep South Texas,” added Iglesias. “With his direct access to the governor, and with his tremendous knowledge of the people and issues of the Valley, Secretary of State Cascos is a very valuable resource for us to help reach our legislative goals, which include higher education, highways, infrastructure, medical education, health care, border security, and jobs creation.” EEDC Executive Director Agustín García, Jr. said it is vital when the state’s top leadership comes to the city. “The first trip that Gov.-elect Abbott made after his election in November 2014 was to the Valley, and the first trip that Gov. Abbott made after his inauguration was in late January 2015, also to the Valley, including to Edinburg,” recalled the EEDC Executive Director. “In many ways that count, Secretary of State Cascos is the governor’s right-hand man, and we plan to continue building our relationships with both men on behalf of Edinburg.” The Secretary of State is the state’s chief election officer, the liaison to the governor on border and Mexico affairs (born in Mexico, Cascos immigrated to the United States as a child and became a permanent resident and citizen during adolescence) and Texas’ chief protocol officer for state and international affairs. “Judge Cascos will give the Rio Grande Valley a strong voice in Austin, and he will also show the rest of Texas the outstanding leaders produced by the Rio Grande Valley,” Abbott said when he announced Cascos as his first gubernatorial appointee in November 2014. “Judge Cascos will give the Rio Grande Valley a strong voice in Austin, and he will also show the rest of Texas the outstanding leaders produced by the Rio Grande Valley.”
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, from left: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, greets constituents at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce’s 84th Legislative Session Wrap-Up Luncheon, held on Thursday, July 9, 2015, at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel in McAllen as Alex Ri?os, the District Director for Canales’ legislative office in Edinburg, looks on.
Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR
Efforts to improve the identification process of undocumented immigrants who die while crossing from Mexico into Texas will take center stage in the Rio Grande Valley on Monday, September 28, when the Texas Forensic Science Commission hosts a public meeting at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, has announced. The meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the facility, which is located at 118 Paseo Del Prado, near the intersection of McColl Road and Dove Avenue in southwest Edinburg. The gathering in Edinburg, which is the result of a last- minute amendment on May 26, 2015 by Canales to Senate Bill 1287, will focus on what is known as the Rio Grande Identification Project. The Edinburg lawmaker’s amendment created the Rio Grande Identification Project and requires the Texas Forensic Science Commission – a state agency – “to develop a method for collecting forensic evidence related to the unidentified bodies located less than 120 miles from the Rio Grande River,” Leigh M. Tomlin, with the Texas Forensic Science Commission, stated in an advisory about the Edinburg meeting. “In accordance with its legislative mandate, the commission is working with stakeholders to develop a systematic plan for proper forensic evidence collection of biological material that may help identify human remains found along the border. The goal for the session is to establish best practices in Texas for subsequent publication and dissemination,” Tomlin explained. Canales said an estimated 1,000 immigrants without any identification have died in the Rio Grande Valley during the past 10 years. In the summer of 2014, international attention was focused in deep South Texas with the discovery that mass graves of hundreds of suspected unidentified immigrants were buried haphazardly in a cemetery in Brooks County. In addition, hundreds of immigrants’ bodies have been recovered on the ranches in Brooks County in recent years. Smugglers guide immigrants through the brush trying to circumvent a Border Patrol highway checkpoint an hour’s drive north of the border. There is little water and the walk can take two or three days in punishing temperatures. The House District 4o lawmaker recalled how the Legislature late last spring took action to bring compassion and closure to thousands of families who never know what happened to their love ones who crossed into Texas seeking a better life. “It was spontaneous. I just noticed the subject of the bill and it got me out of my chair,” Canales told reporter Kristian Herna?ndez with the Monitor newspaper in McAllen. “I ran to the front of the House of Representatives and said, ‘I have an amendment to this bill, hold on.’” The passage of his amendment was even more remarkable given the political climate in the Legislature, he noted. “I think it was one of my most exciting moments in the Legislature,” Canales said. “I was a little overjubilant that it passed, especially with the anti-immigrant sentiment that exists in the Texas legislature. I think it’s a great victory.” Canales’ amendment forced the Texas Forensic Science Commission to create a manual for the postmortem examination and identification process of unidentified border crossers, Herna?ndez added. “I think that it’s unquestionable what role immigrants play in our daily lives in our economy,” Canales said. “Not only do we need to respect what they do for our country but we need to respect human life in death.”
Featured, from left: Letty Reyes, Director of Business Development and Public Affairs, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; Jonathan Torres, Production Specialist and Event Coordinator, City of Edinburg; and Leticia S. Leija, Director of Library and Cultural Arts, City of Edinburg, who are among the Board of Directors of the South Texas International Film Festival, which will be held on Friday, August 21, and Saturday, August 22, at several prime locations in Edinburg. The other members of the Board of Directors of the South Texas International Film Festival are: Magdiel Alfonso, Arts Coordinator, City of Edinburg; Agustín “Gus” García, Jr., Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; Letty González, President, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Dahlia Guerra, Dean, Department of Arts and Humanities, The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg; José Alberto Navarro, Consul for Political & Cultural Affairs, Consulate of Mexico in McAllen; Imelda Rodríguez, Director of Tourism for the Edinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau; Valente Rodríguez, Actor, Producer, Director, former star of The George López Show; Larry Safir, Member, Board of Directors, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, and former Executive Vice President, Entravision Communications Corporation; and Luis Enrique Suner, Filmmaker and Journalist, El Mañana;
Photograph By DIEGO REYNA
Known as the “Movie Capital of the Valley” in the late 1960s, Edinburg’s cultural life has been seen as a symbol of the city’s vitality and ingenuity. From the movie theaters in the 1930s and 1940s to the TV revolution in the 1950s, then advancing with cable TV, personal computers, the Internet, the cellphone and electronic tablet innovations, Edinburg’s creativity transforms and re-forms with the changing times. The informal title as “The Movie Capital of the Valley” was built on a rich history of film venues in Edinburg going back decades, and the visual arts continue even stronger today, with the impressive, 84,000-square-foot Carmike 20 Cinema, the groundbreaking Cinemark Movie Bistro, and the upcoming inaugural South Texas International Film Festival (www.stxff.us), which is set for Friday, August 21, and Saturday, August 22, at several prime location in the city. The South Texas International Film Festival will bring into clear view the potential value, in terms of economic development, of increasing local productions of movies and home videos in Edinburg and the Rio Grande Valley. The South Texas International Film Festival– of which the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation is a sponsor – will showcase the abundant regional talent of filmmakers, producers, actors, and related professional staffs, and promote the city and the region as a premium site for national and international movies to be filmed. The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, of which Mayor Richard Garcia is President of its five-member Board of Directors, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. In addition to the EEDC, the other major sponsors and organizers of this landmark two-day event include The City of Edinburg, the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, Edinburg Arts, and the Consulado de México en McAllen (Mexican Consulate in McAllen). Why consider feature films, documentaries, and other visual works of art as economic development tools? Agustín “Gus” García, the Executive Director for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, explains the potential links between Hollywood, the home of the U.S. motion picture industry, and American hometowns, such as Edinburg. The many positive benefits of clustering creative businesses was explained by Jamie Bennett, Director of Public Affairs for the National Endowment for the Arts, said Gus García (no relation to the mayor), who cited the following perspectives: “A theater has 1,000 people show up at eight o’clock and leave at eleven o’clock. A museum might have 1,000 visitors spread out over the course of an eight-hour day. A rehearsal studio might have 30 people coming and going every hour over 12 hours,” said Bennett. “You put the three different organizations in proximity to one another and, all of a sudden, you have a full day of positive foot traffic on a street — feet that belong to people who need to eat meals, buy newspapers, go shopping and take public transportation. You have every mayor’s dream.” Investing in human capital “is immeasurable,” Gus García continued, and that is why the Edinburg EDC is a champion for developing human capital and in supporting projects that help a community prepare its future leaders. Mayor García contends that the role of arts and culture in shaping community-wide prosperity is a priority for the city. This includes the direct and indirect employment effects of the arts and culture. “Today’s workforce seeks certain characteristics in the places they choose to live. Places with entertainment options, public interaction, lively streets, and recreational and educational amenities are preferred, along with arts and culture activities and amenities,” the mayor said. “Leaders in the field of planning and economic development are developing noteworthy, creative approaches to making places of any scale more satisfying to this workforce, while increasing economic viability and competitiveness. This new collaboration between business owners is resulting in increased economic vitality and sense of community between merchants as well as residents, and Edinburg EDC, the Edinburg City Council, and our many partners in the public and private sectors want to capture them all.”