Featured: The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce celebrated Leadership Edinburg Class XXIX graduation on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance. Eleven graduates from the city’s business community were honored for completing the nine-month program. From left: Johnny Rodríguez (Bert Ogden Auto Group–Public Relations); Abel Garza (Wells Fargo); Marivel Valdez (Open Range Enterprises); Nydia M. Treviño (Memorial Funeral Home); Erica Pérez (RGV Town Planner); Mónica Ann Vega (Oceangate Hospitality); Robert C. Vackar (Bert Ogden Auto Group); Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina; Mary Lou Escobedo (Escobedo & Cárdenas, LLP); Maricruz Z. Nieto (Townplace Suites by Marriott); Priscilla C. Whiteaker (Farmers Insurance); Joe A. Delgado (Halff Associates); and John Mark Atchley (South Texas Health System Edinburg). Vackar and Molina were special guests for the graduation ceremony.
Featured, from left: Leticia Reyes, Director of Business Development and Public Affairs, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; Jonathan Torres, Production Specialist, City of Edinburg; Pepe García Gilling, Independent Filmmaker, Monterrey, Mexico; Viviana Ozuna, Business Consulting and Marketing, McAllen; Luis Suner, MG Digital Group, Edinburg; and Dr. Dahlia Guerra, Assistant Vice President for Public Art, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. These individuals were gathered on Saturday, September 10, 2016, during the South Texas International Film Festival 2016 awards banquet held at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance. The Edinburg EDC was the major financial sponsor for the event, which organizers said drew more than 1,000 people to the three-day event, held from Thursday, September 8 through Saturday, September 10, 2016. STXFF is a competitive international film festival in the categories of Best Short Film, Best Feature Length Film, and Best Regional Film. This year’s edition showcased local, regional and international films that have a unique voice and style. As an added bonus, STXFF premiered the first local 3D movie filmed and produced in the Rio Grande Valley as part of the Festival’s opening. More than 102 submissions in Feature Film, Short Film, and film projects from more than 12 countries were in the running for awards.
Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR
Leticia Reyes, Director of Business Development and Public Affairs for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, on Friday, October 7, 2016 will participate in the Fourth Annual Binational Innovation Conference (INNO 2016), which is being hosted by South Texas College (STC) in McAllen. The Edinburg EDC is one of the sponsors of INNO 2016. INNO 2016 is a bi-national collaborative effort between STC and El Instituto Internacional de Estudios Superiores in Reynosa, Mexico, and takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, October 7, 2016 at the STC Technology Campus located at 3700 W. Military Highway in McAllen. Reyes will be part of a panel of representatives from various economic development corporations in the region talking about entrepreneurial innovation as part of the INNO 2016. Joining her on the panel, which will be featured from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., will be Keith Patridge, President and CEO of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation; Rose Benavídez, Member, Board of Trustees, South Texas College, and President, Starr County Industrial Foundation; and Frank Almaraz, CEO of Workforce Solutions. They will focus on “Entrepreneurial Innovation”. The Edinburg EDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Elías Longoria, Jr., Harvey Rodríguez, Jr., Richard Rupert, and Dr. Peter Dabrowski.
Featured: Hollywood stars David Barrera, originally from San Juan, and his actress wife, María Canals-Barrera, will highlight South Texas International Film Festival 2016. This year marks the second anniversary of the event and the City of Edinburg is proud to welcome two of Hollywood’s finest.
Photograph Courtesy DANIEL MICHAEL SEKULA MEMORIAL LIBRARY
With multi-million dollar movie theaters already part of the growing entertainment industry in the city – including the Valley’s first IMAX set to open for business early next year – the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation on Tuesday, August 30, 2016, will consider a plan to help sponsor the second-annual South Texas International Film Festival 2016. The South Texas International Film Festival and Conference 2016 will be held at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance on Friday, September 9, and Saturday, September 10, with a special Opening Night Screening to take place at Carmike 20 Cinemas in Edinburg the evening of Thursday, September 8. For more details about the South Texas International Film Festival, or to get involved, call Arts Coordinator, Magdiel Alfonso at (956) 383-6246 or visit http://www.stxff.us. In addition, the Board of Directors of the Edinburg EDC – which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council – in open session will also review the proposed budget for the upcoming year, consider the election of officers for the five-member governing board, and review possible action relating to agreements/contracts with the City of Edinburg regarding the purchase of surplus property and real property.
Featured, front row, from left: Francis Whitworth, Edinburg Arts Foundation Board; Tony Casas, Cultural Activities Board; Edna Peña, Edinburg Arts Foundation Board, Cultural Activities Board; Letty Reyes, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, Edinburg Arts Foundation Board, South Texas International Film Festival Board; Letty Leija, Director of Library & Cultural Arts, South Texas International Film Festival Board; Cynthia Sarmiento, CineSol Film Festival; Kim LeBlanc, Production Consultant, Texas Film Commission, Office of the Governor; and Magdiel Alfonso, Edinburg Arts Foundation Event Coordinator, South Texas International Film Festival Board. Back row, from left: Henry Serrato, CineSol Film Festival; Jonathan Torres, Edinburg Arts Foundation Board, South Texas International Film Festival Board; and Luis Enrique Suñer, El Mañana, South Texas International Film Festival Board. This image was taken on Saturday, August 22, at the awards ceremony, held at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance, for the South Texas International Film Festival. Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR
Edinburg’s retail economy from January through July 2015 is almost six percent ahead of the same period last year, a figure that is better than the statewide average of all Texas cities, which came in with a 4.8 percent improvement year-to-date, 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. For the month of July 2015, the city’s retail economy registered a four percent rate of improvement over the same month last year, the EEDC added, according to data released on Thursday, September 10, by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. For the first seven months of 2015, Edinburg’s retail economy has produced $15,140,562.15 in local sales taxes, compared with $14,285,511.68 for January through July 2014, representing an improvement of 5.98 percent. During July 2015, the city’s retail economy generated $1,549,113.91 in local sales taxes, compared with $1,489,519.36 for July 2014, also according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. 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, said Agustin García, Jr., Executive Director for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. The amount of local sales taxes collected also helps reflect the strength of an economy, along with construction activities, per capita income, education, historical performances, and related trends, García explained. “Any retail economy is measured by consumer spending patterns for goods and services, such as for consumer durables, which are goods that usually last more than three years, and consumer nondurables, which usually last less than three years,” the EEDC Executive Director noted. “But there are other key factors, such as entertainment venues, which also bring in money into our community, and Edinburg is also leader in those events.” On Friday, August 21, and Saturday, August 22, the inaugural South Texas International Film Festival, which included EEDC as one of the sponsors and organizers, was showcased as an example of high-quality and cutting-edge industries being positioned to help the local economy, said Mayor Richard García, who serves on the Board of Directors of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. Mayor García and EEDC Executive Director Agustín García, Jr. are not related. “In hosting the South Texas International Film Festival, we are creating a home to the film arts in our region, and in doing so, proudly displayed the tremendous homegrown talent we have in our region,” noted the mayor. “During this tremendous gathering, we provided the educational courses, know-how, and generated the business connections to foster creativity in our local film industry, which can help our economy continue to flourish and diversify.” Mayor García and Board President Iglesias praised the work of Edinburg area residents who worked diligently to pull of a very successful film festival, notably the EEDC, the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, the City of Edinburg, Edinburg Arts, and the Consulado de México en McAllen (Mexican Consulate in McAllen). Iglesias noted how the City of Austin has helped its economy prosper through entertainment venues, specifically its now famous South by Southwest Music Festival, which has become the largest music festival of its kind in the world. “According to a 2014 economic impact study by Greyhill Advisors, the economic impact of the South by Southwest Music Festival, which also includes film components, totaled $315.3 million in 2014,” said Iglesias. “First organized in 1987, the South by Southwest Music Festival has had an economic impact on it’s hometown over the past five years of more than $1 billion. These are the high standards by which we in Edinburg set our goals.” The mayor agreed. “For several generations, we in South Texas have worked for a medical school, and by the Fall of 2016, we will be finally opening the doors to a UT School of Medicine, including a major presence here in Edinburg,” said Mayor García. “What that shows everyone is all good things are possible for our region. All it takes is determination and hard work, and the South Texas International Film Festival is the latest example of the vision of our people.” The mayor, along with the Edinburg City Council and EEDC Board of Directors, were influential in the passage of state legislation in 2013 that resulted in the creation of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, which includes a $54 million Medical Academic Building now under construction in Edinburg. Occupying more than 88,000 square feet, the new Medical Academic Building will be a teaching facility that promotes faculty and student interaction at the beginning stages of medical school, according to the UT System. The building will include an auditorium, digital library, clinical skills center, pre-clinical laboratories and an anatomy teaching facility. Multiple small classrooms, seminar rooms and other features will offer opportunities for small group problem solving and inter-professional educational experiences.
South Texas International Film Festival Board of Directors featured, from left: Letty Reyes, Director of Business Development and Public Affairs, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; Magdiel Alfonso, Arts Coordinator, City of Edinburg; Leticia S. Leija, Director of Library and Cultural Arts, City of Edinburg; Jonathan Torres, Production Specialist and Event Coordinator, City of Edinburg; Dr. Dahlia Guerra, Dean, Department of Arts and Humanities, The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg; Luis Enrique Suner, Filmaker and Journalist, El Mañana. Not pictured are Agustín “Gus” García, Jr., Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; José Alberto Navarro, Consul for Political & Cultural Affairs, Consulate of Mexico in McAllen; Letty González, President, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; and Imelda Rodríguez, Director of Tourism for the Edinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. Photograph By DIEGO REYNA
On Friday, August 21, and Saturday, August 22, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation – which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg City Council – will host the South Texas International Film Festival, which will “showcase the work of visionary filmmakers from all over the world, and feature local, regional and international films that have a unique voice and style,” said Mayor Richard García, who serves as President of the EEDC Board of Directors. “We are bringing a home to the film arts in our region, and in doing so, proudly display the tremendous homegrown talent we have in South Texas, provide the educational courses, know-how, and generate the business connections to foster creativity in our local film industry, which can help our economy continue to flourish and diversify,” the mayor explained. From 2008 to 2012, there was $147 million spent in Texas by the movie industry, and that financial impact is expected to continue growing significantly, according to the Texas Film Commission. The Texas Film Commission (TFC) was created in 1971 by then Gov. Preston Smith, who found that it was “in the social, economic and educational interest of Texas to encourage the development of the film-communication industry,” according to the Office of the Governor. Since then, the TFC has expanded to include the television, commercial, video game, animation and visual effects industries. “Part of our goals for the South Texas International Film Festival is to lay a strong and enduring foundation that will help bring millions of dollars in new investments to our home region from U.S. and international film production companies of all sizes,” García noted. “The Valley has a wide range of terrain, beautiful beaches, isolated stretches of land, the Gulf of Mexico, and a perfect climate to make movies.” Equally important, the mayor emphasized, Edinburg and the Valley are bilingual and bicultural, and are a modern metropolitan region of more than 1.4 million residents,“guaranteeing that movie stars and the films’ production staffs from English- and Spanish-speaking nations would feel right at home in deep South Texas.” Agustín “Gus” García, Jr., Executive Director for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation goes on to further explain the direct link between filmmaking – which is part of what is known as the “creative industries” – and job-creation and prosperity in a community or region. “‘Creative industries’ provide direct economic benefits to states and communities,” said Gus García (no relation to the mayor). “They create jobs, attract investments, generate tax revenues, and stimulate local economies through tourism and consumer purchases. These industries also provide an array of other benefits, such as infusing other industries with creative insight for their products and services and preparing workers to participate in the contemporary workforce. In addition, Gus García continued, because creative industries such as filmmaking enhance quality of life, the arts and culture are an important complement to community development, enriching local amenities and attracting young professionals to an area. “The arts and music are vital to Edinburg’s and the Valley’s economic health. When we talk about the importance of the arts, we have to mention the ripple effect of a strong, vibrant creative economy — one rich in cultural diversity and artistic excellence,” he said. “Creative communities attract creative residents, and businesses reap the benefits of a creative workforce. CEOs and hiring managers overwhelmingly identify ‘creativity’ as a vital skill when recruiting new employees.” Throughout history, the City of Edinburg has always been an advocate for the arts as they adapt and mold into an ever-changing society of social and cultural conditions,” the EEDC Executive Director reflected. “Today, Edinburg finds itself well-positioned to continue serving the needs of our artists and audiences,” Gus García noted. “As the pace of change accelerates, the Mayor, Edinburg City Council, and Edinburg Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors and staff are prepared to maintain our commitment to the arts, and to continue to play a leading role in our cultural community.” All events will be held in three high-profile locations in Edinburg, including at the Edinburg Municipal Auditorium, the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley Performing Arts Complex, and the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance. The schedules and updates for the film festival are available online at http://www.stxff.us