Snapshot of Economic Progress

Page 1

We reliably lay claim to a low cost of living and winters with no snow!

T A B L E O F C O N T E N T S 4

The Rio Grande Valley of Texas is an outstanding place to flourish; discover why the Valley’s promising business climate and irresistible tropical setting have secured top performers. Our strong economy, young dynamic workforce and direct access with markets near and far convey an obvious pick when comparing apples-to-apples or apples-to-oranges.

The Region

Chairman’s Welcome . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Economic Allies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Rio South Texas Economic Council . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9, 141 City Partners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

Cover Stories

McAllen Performing Arts Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34-36 An Emerging Real Estate Market . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64-68 Innovative Life Saving Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73-75 Tourism Is Economic Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88-89 United Launch Alliance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110-111 Annova LNG . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128-129

Our Economy

The Valley’s Bank . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37 Texas Wide Open For Business - Incentives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50 Cost of Living Index McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSA . . . . . . . . . .72 Gross Sales & Tax Chart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .90 Cost of Living Index Brownsville-Harlingen MSA . . . . . . . . . . . . .133 News from Around the Region – Our Leader’s Vision . . . . .136-139 Accolades . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .142-143

Access to the RGV

McAllen International Airport Growth & Expansion . . . . . . . . . 26-27 Metro McAllen - By Bus or Bike . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28-29 Valley Metro – Transportation for the Valley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .72 Sky’s the Limit – Valley Airports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .82 Harlingen Aerotropolis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .112-113 Portal to the Global Economy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .123-125 GEOTRAC Industrial Hub – Global Opportunities . . . . . . . .126-127

Border Bridges

Anzalduas and McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridges . . . . . . . . .30 International Bridge Crossings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31 Alliance International Bridge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .54 Progreso POE, Border Gridlock – A Thing of the Past . . . . . . . .56-57 Cameron County Automated Vehicle Identification Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .120-121

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

Our Communities

Rio Grande City - ‘The Heart of Starr County’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3, 15 Mercedes – Kicking it up a notch! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6-7, 94-95 McAllen - Means Business . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11, 25 Roma - Has a Story to Share . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12-13 Rio Grande City - A Perfect Place to Relocate & Grow . . . . . . . . . .14 Mission - The Place to Be . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16-17 Hidalgo – Discovering Our Past in the Present . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20-21 McAllen – Relax-Breathe-Dine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32-33 San Juan - Rapidly Developing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50 Top 25 Cities – Our Population . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51 Alamo - Economic Development Corporation . . . . . . . . . . . . .52-53 Weslaco - Centered for Your Success . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58-59 Raymondville – “City with a Smile” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .83 Willacy County – A Look Inside . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .84-85 Explore Harlingen – The Valley’s Crossroads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .96-97 Harlingen - Welcome Home! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .98-99 San Benito - Bright Future Ahead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .114-115 San Benito – Growth Ahead . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .116-117 Brownsville’s Economic Outlook - The Valley’s Livewire . . .130-132 Laguna Vista – Top 10 List . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .133 Port Isabel – Opportunities for the Creative Visionary . . . . . . . . .134 South Padre Island - Perfect Place for Business and Relaxation . .135

Quality of Life

McAllen Performing Arts Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34-36 Edinburg – Largest Arena In S. TX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .76 Edinburg – Fastest Growing Sports League . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .77 Ponder Over Our Annual Events & Festivals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .140 Edinburg Entertainment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Inside Back Cover

Home Sweet Home

Villagio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39 Shopportunity – It’s Here! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .45 Alliance River Crossing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .55 Davis Realty – An Emerging Real Estate Market . . . . . . . . . . . . .65-68 Resaca Market/La Sienna . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .78 Boomers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .135

Trade Clusters

Thurmond Eye Associates Preserving, Protecting & Restoring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1, 64 The Next 25 Years – Retail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24, 38 Fight Cancer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42 Healthcare News Flash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .43 Knapp Medical Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .62-63 Davis Equity - Commercial Real Estate Team Surges Growth . .69-71 The Renaissance Difference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Centerspread DHR Brings Innovative Life-Saving Research to the RGV . . . .73-75 Tourism Is Economic Development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .88-89 Harlingen Medical Center – The Community’s Choice . . . . . . .100 Nationally Recognized Best Regional Hospitals . . . . . . .102 & 122 United Launch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .110-111 Shweiki Media . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .118 The Zones - Industrial Parks & Business Parks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .119 Annova LNG . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .128-129 9 Hospitals - World Class Healthcare . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .144 Edinburg Industry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Back Cover Spread

Our Youth (K-12)

Sharyland ISD - Academic Excellence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18-19 Valley View - Something to Roar About . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22 RGV - ISD’s & Charter Schools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23 PSJA – Start College Now!/ College for All . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46-49 IDEA - Celebrates 15th Anniversary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .60-61 Mercedes ISD – More Than a Catch Phrase . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .92-93 Harlingen CISD – Schools of Choice/ School of Health . . .107-109

Labor Force Training

STC – Your Future in the Making . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40-41 UTRGV – STARGATE to Launch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .79 UTRGV – We Will Lead the Valley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80-81 Tech Training, Colleges & Universities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .103 TSTC - Celebrates 50 Years of Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .104-105 Education Driving the Bus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .145

RGV Utilities

Empowering the RGV Since 1937 - MVEC . .Inside Front Cover, 91 Smart Meters – Smart Energy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44 Connecting South Texas to the World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .86-87

The Next 25 Years in Retail - see page 38

Healthcare News Flash - see page 43

Edinburg Industry - see Back Cover spread

College for All - see page 48

Rio Grande Valley Partnership · Publisher/Editor © 2015 All Rights Reserved. RGV Economic Journal - Snapshot of Economic Progress is published annually by: Rio Grande Valley Partnership – Regional Chamber of Commerce 322 South Missouri Ave., Weslaco, TX 78596 956-968-3141 · Chairman of the Board Atanacio Hinojosa President/CEO Julian Alvarez Admin. Assistant/Business Barometer Sandra De Los Santos Publication/Media Director Fawn Foudray-Golich Membership Director Daniela Villarreal Finance Director Dulce Martinez The Rio Grande Valley Economic Journal – Snapshot of Economic Progress® is published annually and distributed by the Rio Grande Valley Partnership – Regional Chamber of Commerce, 322 South Missouri Ave., Weslaco, TX. Copyright 2015 filed by the Rio Grande Valley Partnership – All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, disseminated, published, or transferred in any form or by any means, except with prior written permission of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership – Regional Chamber of Commerce. The publisher gratefully acknowledges the contributions of each community and artist toward the esthetic compilation of this issue. Rio Grande Valley Partnership’s publishing is neither a sponsor of or committed to the views expressed in these articles. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information and listings contained herein, the Rio Grande Valley Partnership - Regional Chamber of Commerce assumes no liability for errors or omissions. We extend our most sincere gratitude and appreciation to The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Data and Information Systems Center - Office of the Senior VP for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development, notably Michael Uhrbrock and Saigiridhar Mullapudi who contributed countless hours gathering facts, data and graphics for the vividly detailed charts. Additionally, Lee Jinks, Association Executive for Greater McAllen Association of REALTORS®, Michael Blum, Partner & Managing Broker of NAI Rio Grande Valley, Steve Sinclair, Omar Landeros, and Abel Riojas Photography, for their guidance, patience and encouragement throughout the development of this project. Furthermore; we thank our State and Federal Officials, City and County Officials, Chamber Partners, Navigation Districts, School Districts, Ports of Entry, TXDOT, Economic Development Corporations and connected allies of the Rio Grande Valley.


Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

Annova LNG - see pages 128-129





ship ande Valley Partner man of the Rio Gr air Ch fulfill as to rve rve se se to d privilege leaders. We all s and community It’s a great honor an Valley. es de sin an bu Gr ed Rio em e te e such es l prosperity in th na gio re r fo and work alongsid r de lea mission: To be the in the organization’s s achieved recently ccess our region ha su h . alt nt we me e th lop ve of omic de witness all on, water and econ It’s been exciting to healthcare, educati n, tio rta po ns tra the areas of way 550 in such as State High cts oje pr n these tio rta po County. As more of to gain from trans way 365 in Hidalgo gh ange The region stands Hi ch ex ate to St e ies lik e these arter ure projects Brownsville and fut r companies to utiliz fo or do e th s en ved, it op projects are achie and bridges. rts po r ou via goods rvices fering expanded se edented growth, of ec hcare pr alt un He ing h. nc arc rie se ustry is expe logy, and re nts. The healthcare ind ialized care, techno tie ec pa r sp fo of re ns ca tio ss op h more oviding world cla pr t, en tm on. es to residents throug so ry inv d ve are services e to grow in size an a leader in healthc be ll wi companies continu we ol, ho new medical sc And with UTRGV’s lises in with other metropo gion competitively re e rmulate th fo h to nc ly lau nt ll ige wi dents are working dil ols ho sc er Education of our stu art ch su d rning to en re school districts an utions of higher lea tit ins d the state. Our local an ity un ese institutions are the business comm bal environment. Th glo partnerships with a in e ant in the et mp co are ready to ke our region relev that our students ograms that will ma pr e lud inc to s rriculum expanding their cu e. lac tp rke ma global needs ority on the water gional Water Auth Re e ter th wa , th wi cts d tri an dis rk hand-in-h of irrigation We continue to wo sions wers, and authority ivi po bd y su or l lat ca liti gu re po r s, service lities, and othe ipa nic mu of our region; our s, tie un ly corporations, co development supp within its borders. e region and have discovered th rs to es Inv r. ge lon any anies such as e best kept secret have to offer. Comp we s ing th t The Valley is not th ea gr e th ed that the l advantage of all nt Citrus have decid ou ram are now taking ful Pa d an ies yal Technolog SpaceX, Annova, Ro the place to be! is y lle Rio Grande Va publication Valley through this de an Gr Rio e th t rning more abou n. I hope you enjoy lea perity of our regio ntribute to the pros co to y wa a d fin d an Warmest regards,

Atanacio “Tachi” Hinojosa, MBA Chairman of the Board - Rio Grande Valley Partnership Western Division Manager Magic valley Electric Cooperative, Edinburg

“Often the Partnership works quietly; always it labors modestly. Careful not to duplicate the efforts of local chambers of commerce, the Partnership

Atanacio Hinojosa Chairman Partnership Rio Grande Valley

complements their work from behind-the-scenes, anonymously galvanizing regional support.”

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


Economic Development Allies All Counties

Lower Rio Grande Development Council 301 W. Railroad Weslaco, TX 78596

(956) 682-3481

Rio South Texas Economic Council P.O. Box 4360 Edinburg, TX 78540

(956) 928-0641

Cameron County

Brownsville Economic Development Council 301 Mexico Blvd., Suite F-1 (956) 541-1183 Brownsville, TX 78520 Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation (956) 541-1183 P.O. Box 911 Brownsville, TX 78522-0911 Harlingen Economic Development Corporation 2424 Boxwood St., Suite 125 (956) 216-5081 Harlingen, TX 78550 Laguna Vista Community Development Corporation 122 Fernandez Street (956) 943-1793 Laguna Vista, TX 78578-2676 Los Fresnos Community Development Corporation 200 North Brazil Street (956) 233-5768 Los Fresnos, TX 78566 Port Isabel Economic Development Corporation 305 E. Maxan St. (956) 943-0705 Port Isabel, TX 78578 San Benito Economic Development Corporation 401 N. Sam Houston Blvd. (956) 361-3804 San Benito, TX 78586 ext.572 South Padre Island Economic Development Corporation 6801 Padre Blvd. (956) 761-6805 South Padre Island, TX 78597


Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

Hidalgo County

Office of Hidalgo County - Judge Ramon Garcia 302 W. University Dr. (956) 318-2600 Edinburg, TX 78539 Alamo Economic Development Corporation (956) 787-6622 715 E. Business 83 Alamo, TX 78516 City of Alton Development Corporation 509 South Alton Blvd Alton, TX 78573

(956) 432-0760

Donna Economic Development Corporation (956) 464-3314 307 S. 12th Street Donna, TX 78537 Edinburg Economic Development Corporation 101 N. 10th Ave. (956) 383-7124 Edinburg, TX 78541 Elsa Industrial Development Corporation P.O. Box 427 Elsa, TX 78543-0427

(956) 262-2127

Hidalgo Economic Development Corporation 704 E Texano Drive 956-843-2286 Hidalgo, TX 78557 La Joya Economic Development Corporation P.O. Box H (956) 581-7002 La Joya, TX 78560-0160 McAllen Economic Development Corporation 6401 S. 33rd St. (956) 682-2875 McAllen, TX 78503 Mercedes Economic Development Corporation 320 S. Ohio Avenue (956) 565-2230 Mercedes, TX 78570 Mission Economic Development Corporation 901 Business Park Dr., Ste. 200 (956) 585-0040 Mission, TX 78572

Palmview Economic Development Corporation 400 W. Veterans Boulevard (956) 432-0300 Palmview, TX 78572-8778 Pe単itas Economic Development Corporation 111 S. Main St. (956) 581-3345 Pe単itas, TX 78576 Pharr Economic Development Corporation 118 South Cage Blvd. Pharr, TX 78577

(956) 402-4332

San Juan Economic Development Corporation 4810 N. Raul Longoria Suite 5 (956) 783-3448 San Juan, TX 78589 Sullivan City Economic Development Corporation 500 Cenizo (956) 485-2828 Sullivan City, TX 78595 The Economic Development Corporation of Weslaco 275 S. Kansas St., Ste. A (956) 969-0838 Weslaco, TX 78596

Starr County

Escobares Industrial Foundation P.O. Box 907 Escobares, TX 78584

(956) 847-1200

Rio Grande City Economic Development Corporation 5332 East US 83, Ste. B (956) 487-3476 Rio Grande City, TX 78582 Roma Economic Development Corporation (956) 849-1411 77 Convent / P.O. Box 947 Roma, TX 78584 Starr County Industrial Foundation 601 E. Main St. Rio Grande City, TX 78582

Willacy County

(956) 487-2709

Raymondville Economic Development Corp. 700 FM 3168 Ste. 2 (956) 689-1862 Raymondville, TX 78580

City Partners City of Alamo 420 N. Tower Rd. Alamo, TX 78516

(956) 787-0006

City of La Grulla P.O. Box 197 La Grulla, TX 78548

(956) 487-3341

City of Penitas 1111 S. Main Penitas, TX 78576

(956) 581-3345

City of San Perlita P.O. Box 121 San Perlita, TX 78598

(956) 248-5725

City of Alton 509 S. Alton Blvd. Alton, TX 78573

(956) 432-0760

City of La Joya P.O. Box H La Joya, TX 78560

(956) 581-7002

City of Pharr 118 S. Cage Pharr, TX 78577

(956) 702-5335

City of Santa Rosa 413 S. Santa Cruz Santa Rosa, TX 78593

(956) 636-1113

Town of Bayview 102 S. San Roman Bayview, TX 78566

(956) 233-6445

City of La Villa P.O. Box 60 La Villa, TX 78562

(956) 262-2122

City of Port Isabel 305 E. Maxan St. Port Isabel, TX 78578

(956) 943-2682

South Padre Island (956) 761-6456 4601 Padre Blvd. South Padre Island, TX 78597

City of Brownsville 1001 E. Elizabeth Brownsville, TX 78520

(956) 548-6000

Town of Laguna Vista 122 Fernandez St. Laguna Vista, TX 78578

(956) 943-1793

City of Primera 22893 Stuart Place Rd. Primera, TX 78552

(956) 423-9654

City of Sullivan City 500 Cenizo Dr. Sullivan City, TX 78595

(956) 485-2828

Town of Combes P.O. Box 280 Combes, TX 78537

(956) 425-7131

City of Los Fresnos 200 N. Brazil Los Fresnos, TX 78566

(956) 233-5768

City of Progreso P.O. Box 699 Progreso, TX 78579

(956) 565-0241

City of Weslaco 255 S. Kansas Ave. Weslaco, TX 78596

(956) 968-3181

City of Donna 307 S. 12th Street Donna, TX 78537

(956) 464-3314

City of Los Indios P.O. Box 369 Los Indios, TX 78567

(956) 399-4255

City of Progreso Lakes (956) 565-3602 631 Lake Way Dr. Progresso Lakes, TX 78579

City of Edcouch 211 Southern Ave. Edcouch, TX 78538

(956) 262-2140

City of Lyford 13550 Main Lyford, TX 78569

(956) 347-3512

Town of Rancho Viejo 3301 Carmen Ave. Rancho Viejo, TX 78575

(956) 350-4093

City of Edinburg 415 W. University Dr. Edinburg, TX 78539

(956) 388-8204

City of McAllen 1300 Houston Ave. McAllen, TX 78501

(956) 681-1000

City of Raymondville 142 S. 7th St. Raymondville, TX 78580

(956) 689-2443

City of Elsa P.O. Box 427 Elsa, TX 78543-0427

(956) 262-2127

City of Mercedes P.O. Box 837 Mercedes, TX 78570

(956) 565-3114

City of Rio Grande City (956) 487-0672 5332 E US Highway 83 Rio Grande City, TX 78582

Escobares City Hall P.O. Box 907 Escobares, TX 78584

(956) 847-1200

City of Mission 1201 East 8th St. Mission, TX 78572

(956) 580-8650

City of Rio Hondo P.O. Box 389 Rio Hondo, TX 78583

(956) 748-2102

City of Harlingen 118 East Tyler Harlingen, TX 78550

(956) 216-5001

City of Palm Valley 1313 N. Stuart Place Rd. Palm Valley, TX 78552

(956) 423-8384

City of Roma 77 Convent Roma, TX 78584

(956) 849-1411

City of Hidalgo 704 E. Texano Dr. Hidalgo, TX 78557

(956) 843-2286

City of Palmhurst 4417 N. Shary Rd. Palmhurst, TX 78573

(956) 583-8697

City of San Benito 401 N. Sam Houston Blvd. San Benito, TX 78586

(956) 361-3800

City of La Feria 115 E. Commercial Ave. La Feria, TX 78559

(956) 797-2261

City of Palmview 400 W. Veterans Blvd. Palmview, TX 78572

(956) 581-7411

City of San Juan 709 S. Nebraska San Juan, TX 78589

(956) 702-6400


Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

“Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.” James Cash Penney

Roma Has a Story to Share

As you enter Starr County you would never suspect the diversity and bounty of historical houses and buildings of commerce within the neighboring agricultural communities. Once an important shipping point for steamboats along the Rio Grande, the site was first settled in 1760 and named "Roma" in 1848 in honor of the Italian city. The Roma Historic District, is a National Historic Landmark, and includes properties along Estrella and N. Portscheller St. between Garfield St. and Bravo Blvd. in Roma (U.S. 83). The building techniques of the Lower Rio Grande, derived from the 18th-century traditions of northern Mexico, are best exemplified by the finely detailed brick commercial and residential buildings designed and constructed by Heinrich Portscheller. Historic towns reflect the past as well as provide travelers with charming restaurants, specialty shops and quaint inns. As you seek out entertainment, you’ll find relaxation, education and family fun in rustic historic settings that abound throughout the county. Visitors also enjoy the relaxation of boating, fishing, nature photography, hunting, hiking and birding. Roma is dedicated to preserving the quality of life for its locals and understands that both agriculture and history play a role for their citizens.

Roma’s EDC Backs ‘Civil War Project’

“The proposed Civil War project for the Rio Grande Valley will create a ‘virtual’ Civil War Trail’ guiding visitors through a series of key locations in the Rio Grande Valley that played significant roles in the U.S. Civil War history of the region”, reads a letter directed to EDC president Roberto A. Salinas. “Roma’s National Historic District is an important stop along the Trail, where a projected podcast will recall ‘los algodones’ and the Rio Grande riverboats that navigated as far as Roma”. According to one description of the project, Trail maps with URLs and/or QR Codes will point visitors to a Trail website featuring audio content produced by Civil War experts, which will be easily accessible via smart phones and/or tablets. Visitors will be able to listen to the informative audio content describing the history of each specific location as they travel along the trail. Discover the ties that join the past with the future.

Lino Ramirez House - circa 1880’s

Our Lady of Refuge - circa 1850’s Leocadia Garcia House - circa 1840’s

77 E. Convent Ave., Roma, Texas 956-849-1411 Photos Courtesy of: City of Roma

Noah Cox House - circa 1850’s

Manuel Guerra Residence - circa 1884 Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


A Perfect Place to Relocate & Grow

In a community where folks know you by your name; Billy Canales, President of Rio Motor Company offers genuine hospitality in a place to engage, grow and make a difference. His Rio Grande City Chevrolet GMC, state-of-the-art dealership is one of the most stunning facilities in the Lone Star State! President/CEO of Clark Chevrolet was elated and very instrumental in helping him to make the transition.

Billy has been working in Chevrolet dealerships for over half a century and a dealer/owner for over two decades. He started from the bottom, up. Born to migrant farm workers, Billy Canales grew up in La Feria, TX where his family worked in packing sheds and traveled north to work in cotton fields and cherry farms. Canales was always mechanically apt; he started in the parts department which offered him the ability to move up through all the departments. He was encouraged to accept a move to Houston to run a large parts department, but he declined the offer. Instead he elected to work with Tipotex Chevrolet in Brownsville as a bookkeeper. After two years he realized that it was not his calling so he went back to parts and service. After fourteen years with Tipotex Chevrolet he moved on to Clark Chevrolet and worked there for thirteen years. In 1994, the dealership in Rio Grande City became available and that's when he made the move. By then he had been a member of the National Parts Council for GM and was the only person south of Houston to be elected to that position. Memberships at the national level gave him the opportunity to get to know a lot of people, so he decided to make his move into the dealership in 1994. Kirk Clark,


Billy met his wife, Dolores, while attending a wedding reception at Mercedes Civic Center, and the rest is history. In those days, Billy resided in Harlingen and his wife worked with Valley Baptist Medical Center in the accounting department. She worked at VBMC for twenty seven years. In a leap of faith, he seized the opportunity to own the dealership in Rio Grande City. His last-born daughter was just graduating from high school so they remained in Harlingen until she finished and Billy commuted. It was the eldest of their three daughters Lisa, that became General Manager and Vice President of the dealership. Although Billy’s hectic schedule takes up the majority of his time, he manages to give back to the community that is active and supportive.

Photo & Story Courtesy of: Advertir, Inc. and Rio Motor Co.

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

Rio Grande City, 'The Heart of Starr County'

Honoring History, Celebrating the Present and Building towards the Future

Located around 41 miles West of McAllen, Rio Grande City is the home to over 600 historic structures including a military fort, with some buildings dating back to the 1800's. Additionally, the city also features an abundance of modern conveniences found in major metropolitan areas such as multiple shopping plazas, several major franchise chains, a ten-screen multiplex movie theater, a college campus and a university campus, as well as a hospital considered to be one of the most advanced in the entire Rio Grande Valley. Recently, the City has also made great strides in encouraging ecotourism by constructing new parks and three separate nature hike and bike trails. Visitors can peek into Rio Grande City’s past aboard Bessie III, named after the first steamboat that connected the city to neighboring communities along the Rio Grande River. Rio Grande City has been described by many as “The Heart of Starr County.” It is the home of the County's original courthouse, as well as the newly constructed courthouse annex building, and is the only city in the county with a municipal airport. According to a recent estimate by the Nielsen Company, its current population is over 15,000 with an estimated 1% yearly growth. The city also has an international bridge that crosses the Rio Grande River and connects to Camargo, Mexico. From its founding in 1848, until the Texas Mexican Railroad opened up in 1883, Rio Grande City was one of the most significant hubs of trade between Texas and Mexico. During the early stages of the Mexican-American war, Henry Clay Davis, married Hilaria de la Garza Falcon, heiress to the ranchland on which Rio Grande City now sits. At the end of the war, Davis set to organize the area into a formal city. At first, the land was referred to as “Rancho Davis” but the name was later changed in 1848 to “Rio Grande City” to encourage investors and settlers. Today, the city continues to boast a rich culture of ranching in a modern-day American city.

Fort Ringgold

Now occupied by the Rio Grande City Independent School District, Fort Ringgold was founded in 1848 after the Mexican War was over, and served as a base for protection forces during periods of bandit raids in the Border area. It is named after Major David Ringgold who was the first U.S. officer to fall in the Mexican-American War, perishing from wounds received at the Battle of Palo Alto.


Twelve of the Rio Grande City CISD's seventeen campuses fall within the City limits. Rio Grande City is also the only Starr County city with a South Texas College campus which features an average enrollment, during a typical semester, of over 1,000 students, and employs roughly 100 people. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley also has a facility in Rio Grande City.


Aside from featuring three large, and daily-maintained, municipal parks, with two more currently in development, the city is also home to the popular Fordyce Nature Trails which consists of a hiking trail, a running trail with multiple climbing obstacles, and a rugged and challenging bike trail for outdoor sports enthusiasts. Visit our NEW location! Rio Grande City Economic Development Corporation 5332 E US Highway 83, Suite B Rio Grande City, Texas 78582 For more information about Rio Grande City, visit Photos Courtesy of: City of Rio Grande City Story Courtesy of: Rio Grande City EDC Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


MISSION - “The Place to Be.” The City of Mission strives to be a City dedicated to the people it serves. Mission City Leaders work to provide a community that is clean, safe, and affordable for its citizens. MISSION is “The Place to Be.”


Now is the time to stop, shop, and stay in Mission. Retail sales are at an all-time high and unemployment is at the lowest the City has seen it in years. This is a testament to the climate of support Mission provides for businesses and families, alike. It is a City that prides itself on being both pro-business AND pro-family.


It comes as no surprise people are choosing to move to Mission. In fact, WalletHub recently named Mission the Fastest Growing Small City in the Nation. It is an accomplishment Mission is proud of, and City leaders strive to create a great quality of life for everyone who chooses to live in Mission.


In the midst of the growth, City leaders have focused on beautifying the City. Through the Streetscape Project, Mission has revitalized its downtown, attracting more businesses and customers, while catering to the businesses that have already chosen to call Mission their home. Through the City’s Community Development Block Grant Program, Mission has provided many reconstructed and rehabilitated homes to Mission families.


Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


Within all of the City projects, Mission is committed to putting the taxpayer first. City leaders work hard to ensure all residents receive the highest level of service at the lowest possible cost, and are constantly working to reduce the City tax rate. Mission completes many of its projects using a majority of only federal grants.


Mission is considered one of the safest cities to live in the Rio Grande Valley, and safety is a top priority. Recently, Mission has seen an 18 percent drop in its crime rate.


Mission strives to be an open and transparent form of government. Citizens can keep track of daily City business through the City website or through Facebook and Twitter. Each year Mission releases an annual report, available to all citizens, in which City employees highlight all that their departments have accomplished throughout the fiscal year. You can find a copy of the latest report at


In Mission, City leaders believe the taxpayer comes first, and City employees are trained to be customer-service oriented. The customer is an integral part of Mission’s Mission Statement: “The City of Mission provides exceptional customer service through dedicated leadership and efficient use of resources to enhance the quality of life in our community.”

City of Mission 1201 E. 8th St. Mission, Texas 78572 956-580-8650 Photos & Story Courtesy of: City of Mission Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015



The Sharyland Independent School District, founded in 1921, provides an exemplary education to all students. The district includes two comprehensive high schools, advance academic academy, an alternative education center, two middle schools, and eight elementary schools. Sharyland ISD is one of the fastest-growing school districts in South Texas. The district is a twenty-six square mile area located in Hidalgo County. It serves Mission, McAllen, Edinburg, Alton, and Palmhurst communities. Sharyland ISD is known as the district of “Continued Excellence” in the Valley. Sharyland ISD is a TEA recognized school district. Under the final 2014 ratings, 100 percent of Sharyland ISD campuses achieved the rating of Met Standard. Sharyland ISD also received a distinction designation for postsecondary readiness; the only available distinction at the district level. Sharyland ISD is recognized by TEA as one of the top 4 schools in the Valley and one of the top 26 school districts in the State. This year, three campuses received high honors from the Texas Education Agency for improved student performances as High Performance and High Progress schools. These are: B.L. Gray Junior High, Ruben Hinojosa Elementary and John H. Shary Elementary. On May 2015, the National Center for Urban School Transformation (NCUST) named B.L. Gray Junior High a Gold Award recipient for their work on improving the teaching/learning process at this campus. This award is given to only one Junior High in the entire Nation. On 2011, B.L. Gray Junior High and Sharyland North Junior High were named as 2011 National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education.

Sharyland ISD is one of 547 school districts in the U.S. and Canada being honored by the College Board with placement on the 5th Annual AP® District Honor Roll for increasing access to AP course work while simultaneously maintaining or increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams. Since 2012, Sharyland ISD has increased the number of students participating in AP while improving the number of students earning AP Exam scores of 3 or higher.

Sharyland ISD is currently looking to partner up with various local retail pharmacy chains to establish contracts that will allow students to begin an externship program. This partnership will help meet the new pharmacy technician program requirements that will become effective in the year 2020. Sharyland ISD’s goal is to ensure students are well prepared to further their degree or pursue a career in the healthcare field.

Sharyland ISD offers a wide range of team and individual sports. About, 85% of students are enrolled in extracurricular activities such as band, mariachi, choir, folklorico, student clubs, organizations, chess, theatre arts, athletics and more. Career and technology courses such as agricultural science, business and office management, family and consumer science, trade and industrial arts, health occupations, law enforcement and JROTC.

In 2014, Sharyland ISD partnered with South Texas College (STC) to create the Sharyland Advanced Academic Academy. This program is geared toward 1st generation college students to earn 60 college credit hours by graduation.

Sharyland ISD offers Health Science courses that are designated for the development of advanced knowledge and skills related to a wide variety of healthcare careers. One of the programs is the Pharmacy Technician Program. The district percentage passing rate for the IV Sterile Technician Certification is almost at 100%, and consistently above 96% on the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam. Due to the high level of success and quality of the program, students are getting hired as Pharmacy Technicians In-Training while in high school and also after they graduate from high school.

The mission of the Sharyland Independent School District is to provide the highest quality education possible to all students. To the full extent of their individual abilities, students are provided the opportunity to develop the ability to think logically, independently and creatively and to communicate effectively. The district promotes the worth and dignity of all students and encourages them to become productive and responsible members of society. For more information, call 956-580-5200 or visit Photos & Story Courtesy of: Sharyland ISD

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


DISCOVERING OUR PAST IN THE PRESENT ABOUT THE HEDC Hidalgo offers the charm of a colorful historic past mixed with the excitement of a contemporary present. A successful melding of old and new, urban and rural. Serving the City of Hidalgo, the Hidalgo Economic Development Corporation (HEDC) is a nonprofit organization established to market Hidalgo as a premier location for business prosperity.


“Hidalgo is dotted with historical sites and stories of our region’s rich history. The HEDC’s core focus is promoting an understanding and appreciation for our cultural character. At the same time we continue to build entertainment, focus on the redevelopment of the Historical Old Hidalgo, and encourage entrepreneurs by supporting small business development” said, Prisciliano (JR) Trevino, EDC Executive Director. “We stimulate the economy by developing a linkage between our natural, historic heritage and cultural resources.” Today, various historical sites and structures stand as a testament to our forefathers’ struggles to tame this new land and build a young nation. We hope you will take the time to visit some of these unique places and savor this special place in South Texas. Experience our numerous species of uncommon birds, countless categories of plants, flowers and trees that trail along the Texas/Mexico border following the Rio Grande. Spend a day. Spend a week. Walk in their footsteps. Explore, discover, and experience the history and legacy of our early settlers. Learn about our farmers, merchants, politicians and historic neighborhoods that provided a sense of community. Their legacy endures and continues to inspire us.

Old Country Jail House - circa 1886


We know it’s a lot of work! But being part of Hidalgo’s heritage is at the heart of our mission, and we’re glad to be able to preserve a little piece of the history we hold so dear. The Nueva Vida Hidalgo Project will focus on existing structures that are already in place by preserving to the specifications of the historical commission and local entrepreneurs - capturing their ideas, imagination, energy and passion. A process of saving our legacy and restoring old buildings and districts for contemporary use and enjoyment. Keeping Hidalgo’s historic preservation and conservation aligned with the architectural history; conservation techniques; public relations; and land-use, real-estate, and tax laws.

We revel in the excitement of our Small Business Program fostering job creation and supporting the growth of new businesses by providing capacity building resources and financial solutions for our local community’s entrepreneurial spirit. We unravel a tale through Cultural Arts encouraging a strong cultural economy through the development of public art, enabling crafters, musicians, and dance. We rally for the local sports team and engage in concerts; live music & entertainment to attract emergent expansion programs within our community and historical areas. There are options for all ages. Contact the HEDC today - become part of our history!


Visit: or call 956-843-2286

We fostered a potpourri of festivals and events building Historic Old Hidalgo into a destination scene in the Rio Grande Valley. Sustaining areas of culture through our Small Business Program and nurturing the economy through the Arts, Music & Entertainment is what we do.

Rodriguez General Store - circa 1890

First Post Office in Hidalgo Country - circa 1889

Rodriguez Pioneer House - circa late 1800’s Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


The Valley View Family Has Something to ROAR About … Open Enrollment! YES! Valley View ISD is proud to announce Open Enrollment. This year the district was recognized by Texas Education Agency as one of the top 24 school districts in the state (top 5 districts in the Valley), winner of the 2014-2015 District of Distinction Award for College Credit Program, 2015 Magna Award for the Spanish Medical Minor program, and recently selected as 1 of 6 finalists for the HEB Excellence in Education Award. US News & World Report ranked our high school as #66 in the state and Newsweek just recently ranked the high school as #10 in the nation. An emphasis on teamwork and a positive attitude has led to the success of Valley View ISD. From the time our students enter elementary they experience a college atmosphere that leads to enrolling in dual enrollment classes in high school and attaining their associates degree, Spanish Medical Minor, or vocational certificate. Valley View ISD in the only school district in the country offering the Spanish Medical Minor. College classes, books, and transportation are at no cost to the students or their parents. Experience our Kids in College and STEM program to get a head start on a bright future. Take part in our extracurricular activities in Valley View’s state recognized athletic and fine arts programs. Become a Valley View Tiger and prepare yourself for a ROARING SUCCESSFUL FUTURE. For Open Enrollment contact us at (956)340-1020 or at


Showing Top Row Left to Right: Frank Jimenez, Juan A. Pimentel, Rolando Ramirez, Prisciliano Treviño, Efrain Perez; Bottom Row: Noe Pruneda, Jose A. Rosillo and Abram Ramirez.


Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

School Districts and Charter Schools “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” - Nelson Mandela

Photos Courtesy of: Mercedes ISD

RIO GRANDE VALLEY STATE DISTINGUISHED PERFORMANCE SCHOOLS, 2012-2013 BROWNSVILLE ISD Gallegos Elementary Longoria Elementary Morningside Elementary Ortiz Elementary Paredes Elementary Perez Elementary EDINBURG CISD Austin Elementary Canterbury Elementary Cavazos Elementary Dr. Thomas Esparza Elementary Escandon Elementary Freddy Gonzalez Elementary Guerra Elementary Jefferson Elementary Lincoln Elementary San Carlos Elementary Treviño Elementary HARLINGEN CISD Bowie Elementary Stuart Place Elementary

IDEA PUBLIC SCHOOLS Idea College Preparatory Mission Idea Frontier College Preparatory Idea Quest College Preparatory LOS FRESNOS CISD Laureles Elementary Lopez-Riggins Elementary Los Fresnos Elementary Olmito Elementary Rancho Verde Elementary Villarreal Elementary

PHARR-SAN JUAN-ALAMO ISD Whitney Elementary ROMA ISD E. Vera Elementary FJ Scott Elementary SAN BENITO CISD Downs Elementary SHARYLAND ISD John H. Shary Elementary Lloyd & Dolly Bentsen Elementary Ruben Hinojosa Elementary

MCALLEN ISD Achieve Early College HS Castañeda Elementary Jackson Elementary McAuliffe Elementary Milam Elementary Rayburn Elementary

SOUTH TEXAS ISD South Texas High School for Health South Texas Preparatory Academy The Science Academy of South Texas

MISSION CISD Hurla M. Midkiff Elementary Mims Elementary

VALLEY VIEW ISD Valley View Elementary Valley View North Elementary

Source: Texas Education Agency, State Distinguished Schools, 2012-2013

WESLACO ISD Sam Houston Elementary

District Name


Enrollment as of Oct 2014

CAMERON COUNTY Brownsville ISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . .48,355 Harlingen CISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . .18,681 La Feria ISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3,602 Los Fresnos CISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . .10,649 Point Isabel ISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2,505 Rio Hondo ISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2,183 San Benito CISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . .11,035 Santa Maria ISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .719 Santa Rosa ISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,150 South Texas ISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3,376 Ignite Public Schools and Community Service Center . . . . . .Charter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,219 HIDALGO COUNTY Donna ISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . .15,351 Edcouch-Elsa ISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5,049 Edinburg CISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . .34,285 Hidalgo ISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3,261 La Joya ISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . .29,667 La Villa ISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .604 McAllen ISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . .24,692 Mercedes ISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5,769 Mission CISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . .15,396 Monte Alto ISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,049 Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . .32,288 Progreso ISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2,031 Sharyland ISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . .10,280 Valley View ISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4,484 Weslaco ISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . .17,409 Excellence in Leadership Academy . . . . .Charter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .185 Horizon Montessori Public Schools . . . . .Charter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,125 Idea Public Shcools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Charter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19,227 Midvalley Academy Charter District . . . . .Charter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .324 Vanguard Academy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Charter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2,333 STARR COUNTY Rio Grande City CISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . .10,905 Roma ISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6,439 San Isidro ISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .240 WILLACY COUNTY Lasara ISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .475 Lyford CISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1,553 Raymondville ISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2,107 San Perlita ISD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Independent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .281 TOTAL ENROLLMENT:


Source: Texas Education Agency, October 2014. Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015



The City of McAllen continues to lead the way as the largest city in one of the fastest growing metro areas in the nation; remaining the vibrant hub of the Rio Grande Valley. Drawing from a consumer base of more than 10 million people within a 200-mile radius, including International visitors from the Mexican states of Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas, the city sets the standard for retail, dining and overall quality of life.

Retail Therapy

Shopping in McAllen is widely considered the number one contributor to the city’s economy with a reported $28,000 in retail sales per capita - more than double the nation’s average ($12,000 in retail sales per capita). McAllen routinely ranks in top dozen cities in Texas for retail sales tax collections surpassing nearly every city of its size. Biz Fact (breakout): McAllen ranks second to Houston in retail sales per household and per-capita in retail sales.

*Source: U.S Bureau of Labor and Statistics

The city offers nearly 30 shopping centers, including local boutiques where folks can explore the latest beauty and fashion trends. New to the area are national retailers: Forever 21, Ulta, Home Goods and DSW. Additionally, McAllen is also exclusive home to national retailers like Best Buy, Barnes & Noble and Chico’s.

La Plaza Mall Expansion

Major expansion and renovations are in the works at the renowned La Plaza Mall, still the largest retail shopping venue south of San Antonio. The first phase of the expansion includes a newly constructed wing on the north end of the mall which will incorporate an 80,000 square foot, two-level anchor store, two junior anchor stores, and 50-60 specialty shops and four to eight eateries. This will be completed by August 2017. Shoppers will also see a major expansion between Macy’s and JCPenney which will add another 20-25 shops and restaurants. To ease parking, two dual-level parking decks will be constructed adjacent to Macy’s and JCPenney. La Plaza Mall is currently anchored by: Dillard’s, JC Penney, Macy’s and Macy’s Home & Children’s Store.

Major shopping areas include: • Palms Crossing • Trenton Crossing • Las Tiendas Plaza • Gateway Plaza • Northcross Shopping Center • Uptown Plaza • La Plaza Mall Photos & Story Courtesy of: City of McAllen

Did You Know?

Source: United States Census

• La Plaza Mall welcomes 18 million visitors per year and is considered one of Simon Property Group’s most profitable shopping centers. • In one year, McAllen generates an estimated $3.5 billion in gross retail sales. • La Plaza Mall features 1.2 million square feet of upscale and mainstream retail space with more than 150 specialty retailers including: Banana Republic, BCBGMAXAZRIA, Marciano, Michael Kors, Victoria’s Secret and many, many more. Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


McAllen International Airport Grows, Expands McAllen International Airport is the first and last place hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Rio Grande Valley interface with. That’s a good thing! In 2015, the busiest airport in the RGV and an economic powerhouse for McAllen completed a massive year-long expansion and redesign including: • 55,000 square feet of new space • Renovations of existing space for a modern look and feel throughout the terminal • Expansion of the TSA Security Checkpoint for efficient passenger processing • New restaurant and bar with expanded seating • New passenger seating that includes electronic device charging stations • Explore McAllen retail store post security • Installation of state of the art TSA baggage screening equipment for efficient baggage handling

The McAllen International Airport offers more daily departures than any other airport in the Rio Grande Valley. Airlines offering service from MFE include: • United Airlines to Houston, Texas (George Bush Intercontinental Airport) • American Airlines to Dallas-Fort Worth • Allegiant Air to Las Vegas and seasonal service to Orlando, Florida and Los Angeles California • Aeromar to Mexico City McAllen Miller International Airport 2500 S Bicentennial Blvd, McAllen, TX 78503 (956) 681-1500 Photos & Story Courtesy of: City of McAllen

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


Transportation - By Bus or Bike Ten years ago Metro McAllen, then known as McAllen Express Transit, was brought in to be the City’s Transit Department. Since that time Metro McAllen has seen tremendous growth, and this October marked the highest ridership total on Metro McAllen with just over 70,000 trips in one month. Metro McAllen has seen steady ridership throughout the year, and hopes to once again surpass the 750,000 ridership mark this year. This growth can be attributed in part by the major re-branding done in 2011, and with the acquisition of a new fleet, Metro McAllen now has the look and feel of a big metropolitan system and serves the city’s retail and health care districts and areas serving South Texas College. The Transit Department also oversees a part of Metro Connect, the Valley’s newest Regional Public Transportation service created by the City of McAllen, the City of Brownsville, and the City of South Padre Island. Metro Connect is a regional express

intercity bus service that connects the Valley via three routes from McAllen to Brownsville, McAllen to UTRGV, and Brownsville to South Padre Island. Additionally, the Transit Department administers Central Station located in the heart of Downtown McAllen where the public can also access an array of private lines that travel to many destinations in Texas and throughout the United States, as well as international lines traveling across the border and into the interior of Mexico. The McAllen Central Station transports over 4 million visitors per year. Photo & Story Courtesy of: City of McAllen

Coming Soon… McAllen introduces Bikeshare program If you’ve visited any other major city in Texas (San Antonio, Austin, Houston, Dallas) they all share a common bond of bicycle sharing. They join cities around the globe which have introduced the public bicycle system known as Bikeshare. McAllen is in the process of implementing a bike share program that will enhance mobility by connecting bike sharing to public transportation, major points of origin and destination, as well as leisure locations such as parks and trails. Bikeshare is set to launch early fall. Bikeshare proposes to: • Reduces traffic congestion • Reduces our carbon footprint • Promotes healthy living

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


International Bridge Crossings

With over 4 million northbound international bridge crossings the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge and Anzalduas International Bridge serve as the region’s leading international bridges. For more than six decades the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge has facilitated the transport and promoted international union and friendship between Texas and Mexico.

Shopping Patterns | U.S.-Mexico Border The shopping activity by Mexican visitors from all regions of Mexico accounts for a sizeable portion of the retail activity in the border cities. An assessment of the shopping traits of Mexican visitors to the South Texas border region revealed that Mexican shoppers exhibited a very high level of brand loyalty, were very price and quality conscious, and had especially favorable views of U.S. products in terms of their technological advancement, price competitiveness, high quality, and a variety of choice. Additionally, the engagement of Mexican nationals in the real estate markets and their investment in businesses in this region surely makes an important impact.


Exchange-rate fluctuations can quickly make goods and services across the border either cheaper or more expensive for international shoppers. As a result, retail sales to Mexican nationals are sensitive to swings in the peso’s value. One of the main reasons Mexican nationals are traveling to the region is to shop. In a recent CVB survey 67% of the respondents said their primary reason for visiting is to shop, followed by leisure/vacation (24%), visit family/friends (8%), and business (7%). It is also worth noting that this same survey showed that 73% of them stayed in hotels during their visits, 21% stayed with friends or relatives, 5% own a second home in the area, and 1% had other accommodations. Sources: Saber Research Institute/Ghaddar and Brown/SA Convention & Visitor’s Bureau Photo Courtesy of: McAllen CVB


County Cameron Hidalgo Starr Total Crossings

County Cameron Hidalgo Starr Total Crossings

County Cameron Hidalgo Starr Total Crossings




4,326,713 5,662,895 735,313 10,724,921

1,962,280 2,260,791 223,937 4,447,008




4,344,692 5,683,309 535,251 10,563,252

1,982,269 2,245,819 221,598 4,449,686



4,341,714 5,616,745 485,561 10,444,020


2,116,755 2,182,355 214,043 4,513,153


1,020 20,514 -21,534


9,329 20,883 -30,212


7,843 30,308 -38,151


County Total


County Total


County Total

220,364 514,598 12,511 747,473

210,685 490,847 6,469 708,001

212,290 546,267 7,006 765,563

6,510,377 8,458,798 971,761 15,940,936

6,546,975 8,440,858 763,318 15,751,151

6,678,602 8,375,675 706,610 15,760,887

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


RELAX-BREATHE-DINE Public Open Air Spaces

The palm-lined boulevard to the McAllen Convention Center entrance opens into a 2.4 acre park, shaded with native trees and pergolas. This expansive space features an impressive water fountain that leads into a reflective pond. Located on the east side of Oval Park there is a multifunctional platform with an acoustical shell, where outdoor concerts are held. The facility hosts several outdoor events and festivals, including a free concerts series, and the annual PalmFest. As urban parks progress from a recreational role, into a channel for community development and enrichment, parks have become a vital element in altering and enriching McAllen. Parks provide a place for social and cultural exchange, as well as a place to understand and relate to nature. There are a multitude of activities for different age groups and types of people to use. McAllen’s park system offers entrepreneurial activities, such as farmers markets; physical activities like skating, kayaking, disk golf, walking/jogging; and cultural activities, through art and community festivals and events; or simply socializing with friends. Parks have played a pivotal role in shaping McAllen’s quality of urban life. McAllen’s Park and Recreational system maintains 40+ parks and over 1,315 acres of green space. There are 106 miles in bike lanes and 40 miles of linear parks; 759 developed acres, and 93 acres within 19 city school parks. By mixing parks into the social lives of neighborhoods, and by giving responsibility for maintenance, new programs and in some cases, design, to the community, there is a renewal of parks in places some may have thought were impossible. Story Courtesy of: RGV Partnership

Biz Fact

The city has calculated more than $100 million in new commercial construction within the past two years.

Local Eats

The revitalization of downtown McAllen creates the perfect destination for some of the best local food and flair the city has to offer. Fill up at the newly created food trucks park (at Business 83 and North Broadway Street), or local favorites like Patio on Guerra, House Wine, and Salt. Just a few blocks to the north on Main Street, get a taste of national and regional craft brews at Roosevelt’s at 7 or specialty cocktails and tapas at Infusions Eats & Drinks. Eating in McAllen has become an art form and the local flair has become a foodie’s dream. Sample the trendy and exciting cuisine at El Divino (a repeat Texas Monthly favorite) or savor the tastes of Mexico at Hacienda El Patron. Don’t miss: • The Patio on Guerra • The Blue Onion • Kumori

• Palenque Grill • Delia’s Tamales

Cruise around the city and you can’t help but notice the explosive growth in hospitality and dining. National restaurant chains have flocked to McAllen for years and have been greeted with hearty appetites. There’s something for every palate. Restaurants recently opened along what was once known as Expressway 83, now called I-2 include: Chipotle Mexican Grill, Zoe’s Kitchen, Saltgrass Steakhouse and Corner Bakery, to name a few. Other popular eateries: • BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse • PF Chang's • Rodizio Grill • Cracker Barrel • Longhorn Steakhouse

Story Courtesy of: City of McAllen Photos Courtesy of: McAllen CVB


Be a part of the growth and progress of McAllen as it emerges into one of the prime destinations in Texas. Wake up with the lush landscapes of palm trees as a backdrop and wind down with enviable sunsets at dusk. When you’re in McAllen, you’re home. Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015




McAllen has been active in recent years in upgrading its public facilities with outstanding venues, perhaps most notably the McAllen Convention Center, the McAllen Public Library, and the McAllen Sports Park. In the fall of 2016 the newest venue, McAllen’s $45 million Performing Arts Center (PAC), is scheduled to open its doors. The PAC, which has been under construction since mid-2014, will boast 1,820 seats, and will be a standout on the McAllen Convention Center campus. Located on the southeast side of the McAllen Convention Center grounds, it is being constructed adjacent to the Veterans War Memorial of Texas. In 2013 voters approved $15 million in bonds for the construction of the Center. Remaining costs will be funded by other city sources. Residents and visitors alike will be able to enjoy not only Broadway shows, but also other special presentations including Latin theatre and symphonic productions, dance performances, theatre, and music and comedy concerts, along with local events such as graduations and recitals. “These are the types of events people are anticipating and waiting for, that will enrich our culture here in McAllen, and that people will want to attend,” said Yajaira Flores, the Convention Center’s Manager of Sales & Event Services. Convention Center staff will manage the new Performing Arts Center.

“McAllen is completely redefining the experience of going to an event. There will be no better place in the entire Valley to see and hear a live performance,” she said. “We believe the PAC will dramatically enhance our quality of life and offer new opportunities for cultural enrichment,” Flores continued. “It also will enable us to raise the caliber of arts education throughout the Valley, and in so doing stimulate the creative energy of our citizens, especially our children.” Currently, the city averages more than 170 shows each year, with the majority of the events having been held in the Civic Center auditorium located at the corner of 10th Street and the Expressway, and with the large part of the remaining having been held at the Convention Center itself. That number is expected to increase by more than 15% once the Performing Arts Center opens. The 10th Street Civic Center auditorium, which opened in 1960, was a part of the City’s original meeting venue, and was well utilized for many years by both conventioneers and local residents as the area’s prime performance location for myriad special events and performances. As theatrical productions have continued to become larger and more elaborate, however, the original auditorium’s ability to accommodate many of the newer, more popular traveling presentations was severely strained. Many of the more sought-after productions weren’t able to utilize the space, with its comparatively small stage and backstage areas. City officials made the decision to upgrade facilities rather

“With the new McAllen Performing Arts Center, we will be able to bring ‘A-list’ shows touring across the United States and Northern Mexico that hadn’t previously been able to visit our area,” said Omar Rodriguez, Director of the McAllen Convention Facilities Department. The City Commission selected Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture of New York and ERON Architects of McAllen to design the Performing Arts Center, and SpawGlass Contractors Inc. of Harlingen was designated as its general contractor.

than undergo what would have been an extensive renovation, in order to be able to have the ability to offer the larger and grander events that were being produced nationally and internationally. • 93,491 square feet, with an 80 foot ceiling

Design Highlights:

• Acoustical shell with adjustable ceiling which can be adapted for music performances

• 126 foot wide stage 48 feet deep and 100 feet high

• Padded seats with armrests

• Three seating levels: main, first balcony, and upper balcony

• Unobstructed views of the stage

• State-of-the-art adjustable acoustics, audio, lighting, and stage support.

• Fully American With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


Promoting the Arts in McAllen Makes Economic Sense

Enhancing the City by building the new Performing Arts Center makes good economic sense for McAllen. Time and time again studies have proven that exposure to the arts industry increases not only quality of life for residents who will now be able to enjoy more, larger and arguably better touring events and performances, but also significantly augments the economic outlook for the entire area. Many will benefit. Nationally, the average arts attendee spends $24.60 per event in restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and retail establishments, not even including the admission costs. These numbers work out to over $135 billion in economic activity generated annually, $74 billion of which is expenditures by audiences. Those expenditures in turn produce $22 billion in local, state, and federal taxes every year. All of this economic activity sustains more than 4 million jobs. Increased performances and events therefore will translate into a larger portion of those figures for McAllen.


Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

Added Benefits of Art

According to a plethora of studies over the past years, participation in the arts also fosters many other benefits beyond economic vitality. According to these studies, other benefits include improving skills in cognition, memory, and attention, building interpersonal ties and promoting volunteering, increasing self-esteem, improving the sense of community attachment, improving creative abilities, and enhancing the abilities to work with others and to communicate ideas effectively. It’s possible that the arts can even make people more employable. “The nation’s top business executives agree that arts education programs can help repair weaknesses in American education and better prepare workers for the 21st century,” wrote BusinessWeek in its October, 1996 issue. Several studies have also concluded that “the creativity and innovation utilized in the artistic process will be highly valued by employers in the United States in the coming years as we continue to shift into a global economy.”

Even audience participation alone is purported to have significant benefits that include relieving stress, enhancing visuospatial reasoning (the Mozart Effect), and increasing tolerance of others people. Finally, the arts can also build community identity and pride, lead to positive community norms such as diversity, tolerance and free expression, and certainly increases attractiveness of an area to tourists, high skilled workers, businesses, and potential investors including the local general public. There doesn’t seem to be a down side to McAllen’s continued enhancement of the City’s public resources. The newest, the McAllen Performing Arts Center, is poised to create great improvements in many forms for the city’s residents and visitors, and benefit us all.

Story Courtesy of: Nancy Millar, McAllen CVB Renderings Courtesy of: City of McAllen


THE FUTURE OF RETAIL SALES IN THE RIO GRANDE VALLEY The retail industry in the Rio Grande Valley is important to the economy for a number of reasons. It employs thousands of persons, it brings in outside money into the local economy from tourists and shoppers from Mexico, and it generates property taxes and sales taxes for local governments.

Photos by: Abel Riojas

As the population and the economy in the Rio Grande Valley have grown over the past decade, so have retail sales. This article examines historical retail sales from 2002 to 2014 and forecasts retail sales over the next 15 years to the year 2030 in eight cities in the RGV. Historically, retail sales in the eight Rio Grande Valley cities—McAllen, Edinburg, Mission, Pharr, Weslaco, Mercedes, Harlingen, and Brownsville--grew $4.4 billion from $6.8 billion in 2002 to $11.2 billion in 2014, an increase of 65.8 percent or 4.3 percent annually. Using the historical retail sales for each city, The UTRGV Data and Information Center calculated the annual growth rates for retail sales and developed three forecasts—a low, a middle, and high for each city. The middle forecast assumes the retail sales will continue to growth at the same rate from 2002 to 2014. The low forecast assumes that retail sales will growth .05% slower, and the high forecast assumes that retail sales will grow .05% faster. Using the high forecast numbers, we project retail sales to grow $13.5 billion from $11.8 billion in 2015 to $25.3 billion in 2030, an increase of 115%, or 5.2% percent annually.

Historical and Projected Retail Sales—Select Rio Grande Valley Cities


Brownsville Edinburg Harlingen McAllen Mercedes Mission Pharr Weslaco Total


2002 Historical (billions)

2014 Historical (billions)

$1.48 $0.48 $0.78 $2.52 $0.14 $0.42 $0.48 $0.50 $6.80

$2.20 $1.07 $1.20 $3.56 $0.39 $0.86 $1.01 $0.96 $11.25

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

2015 Projected High Estimate (billions) $2.28 $1.15 $1.25 $3.68 $0.43 $0.92 $1.08 $1.02 $11.81

2030 Projected High Estimate (billions) $4.00 $3.37 $2.31 $6.10 $1.72 $2.40 $2.97 $2.50 $25.37

According to Mike Blum with NAI Rio Grande Valley, there are several positive developments and trends occurring in the Rio Grande Valley that will keep retail sales growing through 2030: • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Continued population growth in the RGV is faster than the U.S. and Texas Major retailers expanding into all RGV markets Growth in higher education opportunities (UTRGV and medical school) Growth in medical facilities such as hospitals and research facilities New international bridges with Mexico Reinvestment by existing business in their communities Reinvestment by individual cities in economic development Space X building a launch pad in Brownsville for rockets Expansion at the Port of Brownsville Continued development of South Padre Island Ecotourism with nature and birding Changes in the Mexican constitution to allow third party drilling in the Burgos Basin Interstate highway designations for 69-E, 69-C and I-2 RGV is a major retail destination for shoppers from Mexico

Based on these developments the future looks bright for retailers, as these development and trends will keep the economy and population growing, which will spur retailers to continue to locate, invest in and expand their retail stores in the Rio Grande Valley. Sources: The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley | Data and Information Systems Center Office of the Senior VP for Research, Innovation, and Economic Development NAI Rio Grande Valley | Mike Blum, Partner & Managing Broker


South Texas College has become a significant part of the Rio Grande Valley’s growth and prosperity. Originally known as South Texas Community College, the institution opened its doors in fall 2013 with only one location on Pecan Blvd. in McAllen. The college grew by leaps and bounds, showing the region’s need for a community college. It was a sign of the time in 2005 when STCC became South Texas College (STC). The name change was a result of the college’s selection as one of only three community colleges in Texas to pilot a four-year bachelor’s program in applied technology. South Texas College became accredited as a four-year baccalaureate degree-granting institution and is very proud to be the only community college in the state of Texas accredited to offer the Bachelor of Applied Technology Degrees. Students can pursue a degree in Technology Management, Computer and Information Technologies, Medical and Health Services Management, and Organizational Leadership. Presently, South Texas College serves Hidalgo and Starr counties with five physical campuses – The Mid-Valley Campus in Weslaco, the Starr County Campus in Rio Grande City, and the Pecan, Dr. Ramiro R. Casso Nursing and Applies Health, and Technology campuses in McAllen. Select courses are also conveniently offered at the La Joya Teaching Center and the Pharr College & Career Center. Through South Texas College Online, students have access to more than 500 online course selections. STC Online offers students access to full online library services, registration, advising, counseling, payment services, financial aid, bookstore, testing and so much more. Student can earn one of 29 degree and certificate options entirely online so they never need to set foot on a campus to fulfill their dreams of a higher education. Today, South Texas College services more than 32,000 college credit students and offers over 115 degree and certificate program options in a variety of liberal art, social science,

business, math, science, technology, advanced manufacturing, and nursing and allied health fields of study. The College’s Continuing, Professional and Workforce Education programs provide employers with customized training, helping the region become a leader in economic development and rapid response manufacturing. South Texas College is ranked as one of the top colleges in the nation, having earned accolades from Washington Monthly, the MetLife Foundation, Community College Week, Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, and Diverse Issues in Higher Education, just to name a few. The College was one of the initial 27 institutions of higher learning across the country invited to participate in the national Achieving the Dream movement. In 2013, the College received the Leah Meyer Austin Award for demonstrating systemic institutional changes that have resulted in noteworthy increases in student success. For over 20 years, South Texas College has established a longstanding tradition on staying focused on student successes and achievements. These accomplishments are the result of the professional commitment and dedication of the entire College faculty, staff, executive and administrative leadership team, and the Board of Trustees. As a result of collective efforts and commitment, South Texas College is the largest higher

education institution south of San Antonio and is larger than all other Valley public higher education institutions combined. Because the College believes that it’s never too early to get on the path to college, opportunities for academic dual enrollment are offered in partnership with many school districts throughout Hidalgo and Starr counties. Through the College’s dual Enrollment Program, eligible high school students are able to enroll in college courses while attending high school and take courses in place of, or in additional to the normal course load at their high school. Continuing, Professional and Workforce Education programs are designed for lifelong learners who want to upgrade their skills, change careers, renew licenses or certifications, or seek personal enrichment. Additionally the division also offers customized training to area businesses, industries and the community. Training programs are tailored to client’s specific needs in terms of content, schedule and location. South Texas College is proud to be a premier learning-centered higher education institution that serves as a catalyst for regional economic prosperity and social mobility for Valley families. Education is key to the prosperity of a community and provides Valley families the opportunity for a better quality of life. Photos & Story Courtesy of: South Texas College

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015




The Department of Veterans Affairs, Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System opened a new McAllen VA Outpatient Clinic in 2014. This new facility is located at the intersection of N. McColl Road and East Hackberry Avenue. Boasting 58,700 square feet the facility provides extended primary care services and some outpatient specialty care including: laboratory, radiology, mental health, nutrition, social work, women’s health, pharmacy and telemedicine - this site also houses the Rural Mobile Medical Unit.


Texas is Worst in Health Insurance? Since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the percentage of Texans without health insurance has dropped dramatically, from 27 percent in 2013 to 20.8 percent this year, according to Gallup. This is good news, as it means that a couple of million more people in the state have greater access to preventative care and less of a chance of being bankrupted by hospital bills. The bad news is that Texas, thanks in large part to its refusal to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, still has the highest percentage of uninsured residents in the country. No other state cracks 20 percent. Source: Dallas Observer | August 2015


Hope for the spirit, health for the body. Hope Family Health Center provides medical and counseling care to the uninsured living in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas. Located in McAllen, HOPE has been serving the community with quality integrated care since 1996. As the community continues to grow, so does the need for care. HOPE’s staff, volunteers, sponsors and community supporters strive to ensure that each uninsured individual is provided with the quality care they deserve. HOPE is a non-governmental non-profit organization that is sustained through grants, individual donations, volunteer services and fundraisers. Through their continued support from the community they have continued to grow and help the uninsured in our communities.

Photos: Doctors Hospital at Renaissance

General and Special Hospitals 2015

HOSPITAL NAME Solara Hospital Harlingen - Brownsville Campus South Texas Rehabilitation Hospital Valley Baptist Medical Center - Brownsville Valley Baptist Medical Center - Brownsville Inpatient Psychiatric Valley Regional Medical Center Harlingen Medical Center Solara Hospital Harlingen Valley Baptist Medical Center Behavioral Medicine at Renaissance Cornerstone Regional Hospital Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Edinburg Regional Medical Center Rehab Center at Renaissance Solara Hospital McAllen - Edinburg South Texas Behavioral Health Center Women's Hospital at Renaissance Lifecare Hospitals of South Texas - North Lifecare Hospitals of South Texas - South McAllen Heart Hospital McAllen Medical Center Rio Grande Regional Hospital Solara Hospital McAllen Mission Regional Medical Center Knapp Medical Center Weslaco Regional Rehabilitation Hospital Starr County Memorial Hospital

STREET NAME 333 Lorenaly Drive 425 East Alton Gloor Boulevard 1040 West Jefferson Street

CITY Brownsville Brownsville Brownsville

COUNTY Cameron Cameron Cameron

TOTAL BEDS 41 40 243

1 Ted Hunt Boulevard 100A Alton Gloor Boulevard 5501 South Interstate 69E 508 Victoria Lane 2101 Pease Street 5510 Raphael Drive 2302 Cornerstone Boulevard 5501 South McColl 1102 West Trenton Road 5403 Doctors Drive 2655 Cornerstone Boulevard 2102 West Trenton Road 5502 South McColl 5101 North Jackson Road 2001 M Street 1900 South D Street 301 West Interstate 2 101 East Ridge Road 301 West Interstate 2, 8th Floor 900 South Bryan Road 1401 East Eighth Street 906 South James Street 128 North FM 3167

Brownsville Brownsville Harlingen Harlingen Harlingen Edinburg Edinburg Edinburg Edinburg Edinburg Edinburg Edinburg Edinburg McAllen McAllen McAllen McAllen McAllen McAllen Mission Weslaco Weslaco Rio Grande City

Cameron Cameron Cameron Cameron Cameron Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Starr

37 214 112 41 586 87 14 229 213 46 25 134 151 32 62 60 441 320 53 297 227 32 48

Source: Texas Department of State Health Services, Directory of General and Special Hospitals, 5/22/15. Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


Smart Meters – Smart Energy

AEP Texas is connected to and serves more than one million electric consumers in the deregulated Texas marketplace. It's headquartered in Corpus Christi, with regulatory and external affairs offices in Austin. Major cities served include Corpus Christi, Abilene, McAllen, Harlingen, San Angelo, Vernon, Victoria and Laredo. As an energy delivery (wires) company, AEP Texas delivers electricity safely and reliably to homes, businesses and industry across its nearly 100,000 square mile service territory in south and west Texas. AEP Texas also maintains and repairs its lines, reads electric meters, and handles connections and disconnections as directed by the Retail Electric Providers (REPs) selling electricity in the area.


Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

More than 2000 AEP Texas employees are connected to their local Texas communities and actively involved in many civic organizations helping to make their communities better places to live, work and play. In addition, AEP Texas contributes more than $1 million annually to teach electrical safety, improve education, enhance the environment, and support community and economic vitality in the areas served. AEP Texas is part of the American Electric Power system, one of the largest electric utilities in the United States, delivering electricity to more than 5 million customers in 11 states. AEP ranks among the nation's largest generators of electricity, owning nearly 32,000 megawatts of generating capacity in the U.S. AEP also owns the nation's largest electricity transmission system, a nearly 39,000-mile network that includes more 765 kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission lines than all other U.S. transmission systems combined. AEP's transmission system directly or indirectly serves about 10 percent of the electricity demand in the Eastern Interconnection, the interconnected transmission system that covers 38 eastern and central U.S. states and eastern Canada, and approximately 11 percent of the electricity demand in ERCOT, the transmission system that covers much of Texas. Photo & Story Courtesy of: AEP Texas

SHOPPORTUNITY - ITS HERE! Deciding to sell or buy a home is a big step. To make sure it’s a step in the right direction, choose the person best qualified to handle your real estate needs: a RE/MAX Hacienda Associate. Averaging three times the production and more advanced industry education than other agents, RE/MAX Associates are truly "The Real Estate Leaders" in quality customer service. Customer satisfaction is reflected in their high, industry-leading rate of repeat and referral business.

Hector Guerra, President

The RE/MAX Hacienda Team has positioned themselves as the Valley’s realty concierge, providing expertise in each part of the buying and selling process, backed by multifaceted services to ensure a seamless real estate experience with their customers. Affiliation with the global RE/MAX network provides us with multiple competitive advantages in serving your real estate needs. From national television advertising to personal advertising controlled by our team, RE/MAX enjoys brand-name recognition worldwide. “When finding a home for a potential buyer, our goal is not just to sell them any location,it is to understand their distinctive way of life, identify accurately what they are looking for, help find them that property, and then secure it for the best price possible. Our associates live and work in the areas we serve – in essence, making our clients our neighbors,” says Hector Guerra, President of RE/MAX Hacienda. “We understand the Rio Grande Valley lifestyle because we live it.” “With our team of associates you get an enthusiastic group of professionals, committed to proactively selling homes and commercial property. This team approach ensures extraordinary customer service in turn, leading to customer satisfaction.” Each year there is a renewed commitment to excellence, our goal: serving the customer, and in turn, getting customers the results they desire. This has led us to a proven track record of success. Experience a whole new level of service. Call RE/MAX Hacienda: (956) 605-6200.

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


College For All Students at PSJA ISD

Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District has rapidly become a state and national leader in creating more academic opportunities for all students. As a tri-city public school district offering a pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade curriculum, PSJA caters to a 32,000-student body and is focused on graduating all students College Ready, College Connected and College Complete. PSJA has a very successful Early College program, with eight high schools designated as Early College and approximately 3,000 High School students enrolled in College courses each semester through dual and concurrent enrollment programs. This ambitious effort and its renowned dropout prevention strategies are working to connect all students to college. Some of the district’s most successful programs such as the Dual Language Enrichment Program, the Early College Initiative and Dropout Recovery Program have been highlighted at both the state and national level for effectively closing the gap to post-secondary education.


Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

At PSJA ISD all students can: • Earn up to 2 years of College FREE • Master 2 Languages, Graduating Bilingual & Biliterate • Be Part of Athletic Excellence and Renowned Fine Arts Programs.

Start College Now! Complete Early! Go Far! In recent years, PSJA ISD has undertaken a bold initiative called College3 (All Students: College Ready.College Connected.College Complete.™), which reflects the district’s educational philosophy and goals of scaling up a network of Early College High Schools, concurrent/dual enrollment and college/career connected pathways so every single student has the opportunity to earn at least 12 college hours by high school graduation, with many earning more – up to an Associate Degree. PSJA ISD’s Early College High School Program offers more than just two years of college credit. Our students graduate with two years of successful experience in higher education that puts them above most of their peers when they enter the university after graduation. This ambitious plan has many PSJA graduates completing their Bachelor’s Degree in as little as two years, with many moving on to graduate work or professional schools at a younger age. These opportunities save our students time and money. It is the district’s mission to provide comprehensive, quality instructional programs that help connect every student to college and/or the career of their choice. PSJA ISD administrators and teachers have a deep commitment to create college opportunities for all with innovative, pragmatic approaches to achieving systemic reform. Through the development of early college pathways within every high school, all 32,000 students within the district – including former dropouts – have the opportunity to graduate ready for college and career.

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


Rapidly Developing - San Juan, Texas


“A beautiful community situated in the Rio Grande Valley, an exciting area of growth and prosperity.” The City of San Juan in Deep South Texas offers a developing and growing consumer base at the center of the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo urban area. The City of San Juan is most commonly known for the “Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan Del Valle National Shrine”, a temple that displays the 14 “Stations of the Cross” with 30 life-size statues. It attracts, on average, 1.2 million local, national, and international visitors annually. San Juan is adjacent to the McAllen metroplex, which is a hub for retail, international commerce, trade and banking. With a population of approximately 40,000, San Juan is part of the Reynosa–McAllen bi-national metropolitan area along the U.S./Mexico border. San Juan captures the purchasing power that comes from the South Texas region and northern Mexican affluent markets. The city of San Juan is rapidly developing an industry cluster of

high end luxury car dealerships, becoming the hub for high purchasing markets. Furthermore, the city is in the process in developing its high end commercial retail corridor that markets to the region.

Texas on the Leading Edge

The Texas Economic Development Corporation promotes economic development in Texas on behalf of the State, and today Texas is the #1 State for business. We're on the frontline — connecting businesses around the world with opportunities in Texas. The TxEDC is the official gateway for bringing jobs to the communities of Texas. In April 2013, the TxEDC board voted to further develop the TxEDC as a stand-alone, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, dedicated to economic development, business recruitment, and job creation in the state of Texas. The TexasOne™ Program will continue to work closely with the Office of the Governor, member organizations, and economic developers to align economic development efforts throughout Texas. The organization continues to be funded by member organizations – no state tax dollars are used to fund its activities.

Making It Easy to Move to Texas

The State of Texas has worked hard to develop and sustain a business-friendly operating environment. State and local government provides tax incentives, financing assistance and an array of services to help companies establish or expand in Texas. Below are just a few opportunities VISIT: • • • • •

Texas Enterprise Fund - The Deal Closer – Texas Emerging Technology Fund Texas Capital Fund Infrastructure Program Texas Capital Fund Real Estate Development Program Texas Enterprise Zone Program

Source: Texas Wide Open For Business


Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015




RIO GRANDE VALLEY BY POPULATION 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25.

Brownsville McAllen Edinburg Mission Pharr Harlingen Weslaco San Juan San Benito Alamo Mercedes Donna Alton Rio Grande City Hidalgo Raymondville Roma La Feria Elsa Los Fresnos Progreso Palmview Port Isabel Penitas La Joya



CHANGE 2010-2014

% CHANGE 2010-2014

Starr County Escobares La Grulla Rio Grande City Roma Balance of Starr County

60,968 1,188 1,622 13,834 9,765 34,559

62,955 2,418 1,673 14,227 10,088 34,549

1,987 1,230 51 393 323 -10

3.3% 103.5% 3.1% 2.8% 3.3% 0.0%

Hidalgo County Alamo Alton Donna Edcouch Edinburg Elsa Granjeno Hidalgo La Joya La Villa McAllen Mercedes Mission Palmhurst Palmview Penitas Pharr Progreso Progreso Lakes San Juan Sullivan City Weslaco Balance of Hidalgo County

774,769 18,353 12,341 15,798 3,161 77,100 5,660 293 11,198 3,985 1,957 129,877 15,570 77,058 2,607 5,460 4,403 70,400 5,507 240 33,856 4,002 35,670 240,273

831,073 19,224 15,497 16,448 3,276 83,014 6,617 299 13,497 4,219 2,511 138,596 16,591 82,431 2,663 5,661 4,632 75,382 5,861 251 36,174 4,152 37,601 256,476

56,304 871 3,156 650 115 5,914 957 6 2,299 234 554 8,719 1,021 5,373 56 201 229 4,982 354 11 2,318 150 1,931 16,203

7.3% 4.7% 25.6% 4.1% 3.6% 7.7% 16.9% 2.0% 20.5% 5.9% 28.3% 6.7% 6.6% 7.0% 2.1% 3.7% 5.2% 7.1% 6.4% 4.6% 6.8% 3.7% 5.4% 6.7%

Starr County 62,955

2010-2014 Change 3.3%

Hidalgo County 831,073

2010-2014 Change 7.3%



CHANGE 2010-2014

% CHANGE 2010-2014

Willacy County Lyford Raymondville San Perlita Balance of Willacy County

22,134 2,611 11,284 573 7,666

21,903 2,589 11,117 567 7,630

-231 -22 -167 -6 -36

-1.0% -0.8% -1.5% -1.0% -0.5%

Cameron County Bayview Brownsville Combes Harlingen Indian Lake La Feria Laguna Vista Los Fresnos Los Indios Palm Valley Port Isabel Primera Rancho Viejo Rio Hondo San Benito Santa Rosa South Padre Island Balance of Cameron County

406,220 383 175,023 2,895 64,849 640 7,302 3,117 5,542 1,083 1,304 5,006 4,070 2,437 2,356 24,250 2,873 2,816 100,274

420,392 389 183,046 3,042 65,914 644 7,308 3,213 6,447 1,110 1,302 5,022 4,208 2,495 2,430 24,506 2,894 2,889 103,533

14,172 6 8,023 147 1,065 4 6 96 905 27 -2 16 138 58 74 256 21 73 3,259

3.5% 1.6% 4.6% 5.1% 1.6% 0.6% 0.1% 3.1% 16.3% 2.5% -0.2% 0.3% 3.4% 2.4% 3.1% 1.1% 0.7% 2.6% 3.3%

Rio Grande Valley










United States

308,745,538 318,857,056



Willacy County 21,903

2010-2014 Change -1%

Cameron County 420,392

2010-2014 Change 3.5%


TOP CITIES by Geographic Distribution

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2010; Annual Estimates of the Resident Population, 2014. Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


Alamo Economic Development Corporation

The City of Alamo is at the forefront of green practices and enhancing the birding corridor in the Rio Grande Valley. This, along with the city’s current standing as the birding and ecotourism capital of South Texas, has paved the way for substantial business expansion and growth.

At the Alamo Economic Development Corporation (AEDC), we are fully committed to our community’s growth through the promotion and delivery of new business opportunities. We create and manage our programs while keeping necessary factors, such as new jobs, economic development and investment opportunities, in mind. Our goal is to cultivate Alamo’s growth and self-sufficiency by supporting actions that highlight local proposals and opportunities. These include: • The introduction of solar panels in a phase-by-phase downtown process • Renovation of our city’s infrastructure • Park enhancements

Establishing the Goal

Let’s Talk Tourism

At the Alamo EDC, we have one goal in mind: to increase our city’s private business success rate and individual opportunities. Each of our proposals aims to create jobs and new business opportunities while encouraging investment in the private sector.

The City of Alamo welcomes thousands of visitors every year who make their way to South Texas to take advantage of our warm climate, birding, wildlife, world-class shopping and exciting entertainment. Our visitors enhance our city’s flourishing economy due to their massive market reach.

A business-friendly environment is synonymous with business attraction, retention and economic progress. For this reason, the Alamo EDC has established a partnership with many affiliates who are driven by our city’s development and expansion.

For example, the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is one of Alamo’s most popular attractions. As the nation’s leading birding destination, this local and popular attraction spans across a stunning 2,088-acre area of land within our city.

New and established businesses may receive grants by the Alamo EDC when resources are available. These grants can be used for off-site improvements to assets within the public domain, such as: • • • • • • • •

Water distribution Sewer collection Drainage Public thoroughfares Medians Street lighting Solid waste collection Signage

Santa Ana, known as the jewel of the National Wildlife Refuge System, welcomes almost 132,000 visitors from every corner of the world each year. Our 400 species of beautiful, rare birds and half of all species of gorgeous butterflies found in North America make Alamo one of the most popular birding spots. The Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle shrine hosts millions of visitors each year. Its proximity to Alamo lets our community to comfortably accommodate many of these visitors with our city’s hotels and restaurants. This, in turn, turns into a sizeable annual boost for our city’s economy, furthering our efforts to increase these practices in the future. Photos Courtesy of: City of Alamo

Grow with Alamo

At the City of Alamo, we know that it takes being the best to attract the best. The Alamo EDC takes pride in meeting your business needs with all-inclusive supportive and effective solutions. Our community is known for its commitment to its people, so take the first step in letting your business become a part of Alamo today.

420 N. Tower Road Alamo, Texas 78516 956-787-0006 Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


“The City of Donna is poised to become a regional leader for economic development, job creation, and

business enterprise in the foreseeable future.” EXPANSION IN THE HEART

Donna’s motto draws attention to its location in

“The Heart of the Rio Grande Valley”. The city is

centrally located in an established corridor to the

international global marketplace strategically located to Mexico, Texas, the continental USA, and Canada.

The official name of the International Port of Entry is Alliance International Bridge which illustrates the strong bi-national collaboration and planning between the City of Donna, State of Tamaulipas and the City of Rio Bravo. Owned and operated by the City of Donna, it is purposefully located within the “Heart of the Valley” and deliberately located for easy access into the State of Tamaulipas providing a logistic advantage to both existing vehicular traffic and commercial traffic.

and commercial traffic. Connecting Donna with the

The bridge has 8 lanes and is 1,000 feet in length; permitting fluid movement of people and international commerce into U.S. markets. Existing data and industry trends provide additional opportunity as the area offers plenty of undeveloped real estate to attract new business; generate jobs and includes a readily available workforce to fill newly created occupations.

in a non-congested area of the border allows express

The bridge’s access to the I-2 and I-69 highway corridors is open from 6:00 a.m. to 9:45 p.m., 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Donna Rio Bravo International Bridge toll facilities

(and joining roadways) accommodate both passenger City of Rio Bravo in the Mexican State of Tamaulipas travel to and from Mexico.

Josue "Josh" Garcia, Bridge Director Phone: (956) 461-4878 • Fax: (956) 461-4883 Toll Rates CAR/PICK UP EXTRA AXLE CAR PUSHING/ PULLING CAR MOTORCYCLE PEDESTRIAN BICYCLE

DOLLARS $3.50 $3.50 $7.00 $3.25 $0.50 $1.00

PESOS $60.00 $60.00 $119.00 $55.00 $9.00 $17.00


$8.00 $12.00 $14.00 $20.00

$136.00 $204.00 $238.00 $340.00

Alliance River Crossing developed by Rhodes Enterprises, Inc., is a Master Planned Community within the City of Donna, Texas. The development will generate almost 7,000 new permanent industrial and commercial jobs and will provide plenty of open space and parks, retail areas and schools for nearly 5,000 Donna residents in approximately 1,500 dwelling units. The approximately 900 acres of industrial and commercial/retail development will produce approximately 6.5 million square feet of industrial development. This represents about 1.2 million square feet of mixed-use commercial/retail and office. Planned are 590 dwelling units of multi-family housing and approximately 1,000 dwelling units of single family detached housing. About 300 acres of the floodway will be maintained as undeveloped property and designated as Green Space Preserve. Alliance River Crossing’s residential development will generate about 2,850 new students for the Donna Independent School District over the next 10-15 years, as the demand for new housing builds. At ratios the Donna ISD uses for students per household for new construction and the student-teacher ratio plus student-staff ratio, the new residential housing in the Alliance River Crossing will generate the need for hiring 18 new teachers per year and 30 new school staff per year, for a total of 480 new school hires over the estimated 10-year period of residential development. Recreation and visual amenities are key components of Alliance River Crossing. The Master Plan envisions a network of parks and linkage corridors. The residential

neighborhoods will have green access the neighborhood community centers and easy access to the hike and bike trails that will surround the residential sections. An extensive network of trails will connect various portions of the community. Trails will be built along drainage ways, road easements, to create attractive green spaces within the community. As neighborhood retail centers develop, hike and bike trails will be linked to those centers to lessen the impact of automobile traffic. Rhodes Enterprises has proposed a new elementary school within Alliance River Crossing to allow the school to move away from the major traffic corridor along Military Highway. Alliance River Crossing will include a wide range of mixed-use developments. All development will respond to the changing demands of the residents and the City of Donna over the 25 to 30 year period this project will require for full build-out. The Master Plan encompasses elements for a total planning community meeting the multiple needs and demands to stimulate and maintain growth in this area. Such long-range planning must, of course, contain flexibility for adjustments in the various planning elements in order to meet the evolving need for service. With professional planning and flexibility from the City of Donna and Rhodes Enterprises, we expect to see tremendous growth in the taxable value of the properties within the Alliance River Crossing, as well as in the properties of all Donna and Mid-Valley residents. For more information on available properties, contact Rhodes Enterprises at 956.287.2800 Renderings & Story Courtesy of: Rhodes Enterprises Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


BORDER GRIDLOCK · A THING OF THE PAST Progreso International Land Port of Entry (LPOE), also known as a border station, is the facility that provides controlled entry into or departure from the United States for people and provisions. It houses the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and other Federal Inspection Agencies accountable for the administration of federal laws relating to such activities. Progreso’s LPOE consists of the land, the buildings, and the on-site roadways and parking lots that the Port of Entry occupies. The facility serves as a point of contact for travelers entering or leaving the country for the purposes of enforcement; prevention of illegal aliens from entering the country; collection of revenues; prevention of injurious plants, animal pests, human and animal diseases from entering the country; examination of export documents; registration of valuable articles being temporarily taken out of the country; and commercial transactions.

How We Started

The Progreso/Nuevo Progreso International Bridge has been operating since 1952. In the first years of operation the bridge experienced relatively low crossings through a mix of pedestrians, automobile and commercial traffic. Originally, it was only open from 5:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M. and the toll went southbound only. During the 1970’s an increase in all three categories was clear. A new bridge was completed in 2003 providing instant success. With expansive covered walkways on each side, the hike across became a delight. Four lanes of traffic permitted a steady flow of cars going either way. Improvements were made to the main administration building at the Progreso Land Port of Entry in the Rio Grande Valley. This facility supports expanded immigration services and inspection processes for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The brick, stucco, and galvanized metal building are the architectural centerpiece of the facilities, offices and remodeled International Bridge that links Progreso with Nuevo Progreso, Tamaulipas.

Economic Impact of Delays

If a Port of Entry (POE) facility and border transportation route becomes severely congested, it can result in significant delays for trucks waiting to cross our international border. International trade is a key contributor to the economic well-being of the U.S. and Mexico. Cross border delays discourage trips across the border and inhibit potential growth in business income, hindering trade in the long term. Congestion delays at the U.S.-MX border result in shipments not being delivered on time, increased transportation costs and interruptions in manufacturing and delivery cycles. Uncertainty over wait times acts as a barrier to the import and export of goods, and can

hinder Texas from attracting new investments, as well as maintaining existing investments. Progreso International Bridge took an active role to impact growth; the cargo bridge can cross double trailers (9 axel trailers) and is now part of the overweight corridor. A new truck bridge, located to the East, has removed heavy truck traffic and makes crossing even more gratifying. Re-routing the southbound truck crossings by means of a new Progreso International Heavy Load Commercial Truck Bridge, south bounders experience the alike. Progreso LPOE’s growth better serves the expanding consumer base. By enhancing the volume of cross-border truck traffic, through the new 2-lane truck bridge designed to accommodate single and double trailers, and extra heavy loads. The truck bridge can connect to Mexican Import/Export Facilities.

Photo Courtesy of: Progreso International Bridge

Easy Express Access

Progreso Bridge traffic has proved to be extremely substantial over the past decade, both southbound and northbound. Over the past 15 years, an estimated 1.25 million pedestrians cross the Progreso Bridge each year. In addition, another million cars make the southbound crossing. Both truck and tour bus traffic has increased steadily. A majority of trucks crossing now carry grain, primarily corn for tortillas, into Mexico. With a separate commercial bridge for heavy truck traffic now completed the southbound traffic wait time is a thing of the past. This proactive move will enhance the safety of Nuevo Progreso’s center of town; by removing heavy truck traffic. Additionally, a by-pass from FM1015 to the north entry of the Progreso LPOE has made this transition of traffic easy.

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


Weslaco, Texas: Centered for your success in the Rio Grande Valley. The economic development climate in Weslaco is pro-business and investors are taking notice of the Weslaco Advantage. Centrally located in one of the MSA’s that will see the most economic growth in the United States in 2016, Weslaco is the business, retail and education hub of a 100,000+ trade area population market making it one of the fastest growing cities in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas.


Weslaco experienced unprecedented growth over the last several years, fostering intensified interest from the retail industry. Due to a steady rise in trade area population and consistent sales tax gains, Weslaco’s influx of eateries, such as Applebee’s, Chick Fil-A, Taco Palenque and Khan’s Grill flourish. Two other popular national chains are joining Weslaco’s impressive retail profile: Chipotle Mexican Grill and Dunkin’ Donuts. Its central location and economic viability make Weslaco a retail destination for national, regional and local chains.

Infrastructure Improvements

The City of Weslaco and the Economic Development Corporation of Weslaco recognize the importance of maintaining infrastructure and assets including the Mid Valley Airport. The Mid Valley Airport is the largest general aviation airport south of San Antonio and the first facility of its type on the Texas/Mexico border that is promoting air transportation and ease of clearance via U.S. Customs from Mexico to Texas. In August 2014, construction crews broke ground for a 1,000-foot runway expansion that adds five feet to its width. Improvement plans include rehabilitating taxiways, extending runway lights and installing drainage. This will allow the airport to accommodate corporate airplanes carrying up to 20 people for business ventures in the Rio Grande Valley, as well as military aircraft in the event of a crisis. The Mid Valley Airport provides the security and convenience of on-site inspections and clearance for international general aviation passenger aircrafts. This, in turn, brings tremendous benefits and opportunities for Weslaco, the Mid-Valley and the Rio Grande Valley.

Mid-Valley Industrial Park

The Mid-Valley Industrial Park is strategically located next to the Mid-Valley Airport in Weslaco and home to companies that include retail, food processing, logistics, manufacturing, warehousing & distribution. Some of the reputable firms that call the Mid-Valley Industrial park home include: • Aisla Coat • Building Specialties (L&W Supply) • Gran Café de La Parroquia • La Abuela Mexican Foods • Maverick Industries • Southeastern Freight Lines

EDCW Goals

The Economic Development Corporation of Weslaco remains dedicated to the creation of jobs through recruitment of new industry and helping existing companies relocate and/or expand to create jobs and add wealth to the city of Weslaco. The Economic Development Corporation of Weslaco serves as a catalyst in increasing economic wealth and growth in Weslaco by fostering a positive business environment, assisting and facilitating investment in business interests in Weslaco and adding value to Weslaco’s tax base. 275 S. Kansas Ave. Weslaco, Texas 78596 956-969-0838


“RMH Franchise Corporation opened our Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar in Weslaco, TX in June of 2014. We pride ourselves on running quality restaurants, and developing our employees to their fullest potential. Weslaco has proven to be an incredible city to expand our brand, and we are honored to be a part of this vital community.” MAGGIE STINE, CAO, RMH FRANCHISE CORPORATION

“We selected Weslaco as our first location because it is centrally located in the Rio Grande Valley. With our location being so close to the expressway we were able build brand recognition and clientele with Weslaco residents, daily commuters, and residents in surrounding cities that visit Weslaco to go shopping.” JENNIFER VASQUEZ, MARKETING MANAGER

“Weslaco provides a tremendous growth opportunity for Chick-fil-A to serve our customers fresh, hand-crafted food with genuine hospitality. We’ve invested in the community through our local schools and charities, and in turn the people of Weslaco have shown us their tremendous support and loyalty. In Weslaco, it’s about building long-term relationships rather than focusing on short-lived transactions.” ETTA RIVERA, MARKETING DIRECTOR

Story Courtesy of: The Economic Development Corporation of Weslaco

(Source: Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


IDEA Celebrates 15th Anniversary

IDEA Public Schools is in the midst of our fifteenth anniversary year, and our growth to serve more students is continuing at a rapid pace. We are now a network of 36 schools (soon to be 44) serving almost 20,000 students (soon to be well beyond that). And our results are keeping up: • U.S. News & World Report ranked all six of IDEA’s eligible high schools among this year's 500 Best High Schools nationwide. Two of our high schools rank in the top 100 in the nation, and four of the six rank in the top 20 across the great state of Texas. • In June, the Broad Foundation announced IDEA as a finalist as one of America’s top three large public charter school systems. We are honored to be recognized alongside Noble Network of Charter Schools out of Illinois and Achievement First in the Northeast. Collectively, we are preparing almost 40,000 American students for success in and after college. • In The Washington Post’s latest rankings of America’s Most Challenging High Schools, all seven of IDEA’s eligible College Prep high schools were ranked in the top 200 high schools nationwide and in the top 50 in Texas. • Four IDEA schools - three Academies and one College Prep - were identified by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) as 2014-15 "high-performing" Title I schools (with Title I schools defined as campuses with a student population of at least 40% low-income students). • 100% of IDEA’s graduating class of 2015 has been accepted to a college or university. Collectively, they earned over $25 million in scholarship awards from institutions across the country. • 100% of IDEA’s Class of 2015 achieved unprecedented college success this year. 544 seniors were accepted to at least one college—making this the ninth consecutive year in which IDEA has achieved 100% college acceptances. • IDEA Public Schools achieved a record number of admissions into Ivy League, Tier 1, and Tier 2 colleges. These included acceptances to Brown, Columbia, Duke, MIT, Notre Dame, Princeton, Stanford, the University of Chicago, and Yale—along with four acceptances to Harvard.

IDEA has come a long way in the fifteen years since our founding. This August, we will open eight new schools in the fall across the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio and Austin. In addition to our new campuses, the IDEA Public Schools will relocate to a new headquarters January 2016. We are proud of the success we’ve achieved the last fifteen years with our students, faculty and staff, and organization as a whole and we look forward to the next fifteen years as we strive to make college possible for all children. IDEA Public Schools is a growing network of tuition-free K-12 public schools serving nearly 20,000 students in 36 schools across Texas (San Antonio, Austin, and the Rio Grande Valley). With a track record of success including high schools ranked in the top 1% nationwide by US News & World Report, 100% college acceptance, and a college graduation rate five times the national average for low-income students, IDEA families, students, and staff are proving that college is possible for all children.

Photos & Story Courtesy of: IDEA Public Schools

IDEA has come a long way in the fifteen years since our founding. This August, we will open eight new schools in the fall across the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio and Austin. Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


Knapp Medical Center

Knapp Medical Center has been serving the healthcare needs of Mid-Valley residents for more than five decades.


Knapp Medical Center is a not-for-profit 227 licensed bed acute care facility that offers a full range of comprehensive services including 24/7 emergency care, critical care, state-of-the art diagnostic imaging services, physical therapy services, general and specialized surgery, wound care, hospice care, and more. Knapp Medical Center has more than 200 physicians on its medical staff, all independent professional practitioners representing 40 different specialties. With more than 850 employees, Knapp Medical Center is one of the Mid-Valley’s largest employers. Knapp services include: ➢ – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Services 24 Hour Emergency Department Advanced (Level III) Trauma Center Minor Care Services Adult Medicine Cardiology Critical Care/ICU Inpatient and Outpatient Surgery Cardiovascular Catheterization Lab Pediatrics Women’s Health Obstetrics/Gynecology Orthopedic Care Neonatal Care Interventional Radiology Wound Care & Hyperbaric Medicine

➢ Outpatient Center that provides over 400 services, including… – All Digital Imaging – Cardiopulmonary – Diabetes Education – Endoscopy Procedures – Gastroenterology (GI) – Hospice Care – Laboratory – Nutrition Counseling – Rehabilitation – Wellness Screenings Photo & Story Courtesy of: Knapp Medical Center

Throughout the years, Knapp has been recognized as one of the best healthcare facilities in the United States in the various areas we serve. – Hospital fully accredited by The Joint Commission (TJC) – Advanced Certification for Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission (TJC) – Hospice Care Services accredited by The Joint Commission (TJC) – Laboratory services accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) – Imaging services accredited by the American College of Radiation (ACR) – Thompson Reuters Top 100 Hospitals Performance Improvement Leader (2005) – Joint Commission Top Performer on Key Quality Measures - heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, surgical care (2014) – One of 25 hospitals nationwide to be recognized by Hospital and Health Networks Most Wired as “Most Improved” in information technology (2009) – Only hospital in Texas to be recognized by Hospital and Health Networks Most Wired as “Most Improved” in information technology (2011) – Received the Quality Improvement Award from the TMF Health Quality Institute (2012) – American Hospital Association recognized Knapp as one of the only four hospitals in the entire United States with its coveted Hospital Award for Volunteer Excellence (HAVE Award), 2010 – Knapp Auxiliary won Texas Association of Hospital Auxiliaries Past President’s Award (1998) – Texas Hospital Association Community Service Award (2000) – American Society for Directors of Volunteers Services Extraordinary Program for Health Promotion (2000) – Prime Healthcare Services recipient of Truven Healthcare Analytics Top 15 Health Systems in the nation (2013) * Region is the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX Census Bureau Statistical Area as defined by the federal government’s Office of Management and Budget

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


Thurmond Eye Associates:

Preserving, Protecting and Restoring Your Precious Gift of Sight Our eyes are not only the most beautiful sensory organ in the human body…they are also the most important. In fact, the vast majority of all the impressions on the senses come directly from our eyes. Perhaps that is why they are often referred to as ‘Our Windows To the World.’ When the beloved eye surgeon Jack Thurmond, MD founded Thurmond Eye Associates in Weslaco more than 50 years ago, he was passionate about providing the personal, quality care that patients deserved from their eye doctor. He was also dedicated preserving, protecting and restoring patients precious gift of sight. Today thanks to Dr. Thurmond and a dedicated team of ophthalmologists who followed him at Thurmond Eye Associates, we have expanded to 5 locations across the Valley, including Weslaco, Harlingen, McAllen, Mission and Rio Grande City. Because of the tradition of eye care excellence we have established over the years, thousands of patients across country look to Thurmond Eye Associates each year to help them enjoy a lifetime of the best possible vision. We are proud to have helped set the standard in cataract care in the Valley, which today continues with the introduction of our LenSx Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery system. When combined with our state-of-the-art cataract lens implants and the safety, comfort, convenience and cost-saving of out-patient cataract surgery, we feel Thurmond Eye Associates stands unsurpassed in our efforts to preserve, protect and restore your precious gift of sight! Fortunately, through early diagnosis and treatment, vision loss from cataracts can be prevented. Under most normal circumstances, vision loss can be fully restored after cataract surgery. Our method of cataract surgery is among the safest, most successful and popular surgical procedures performed in medicine today. If you’ve been diagnosed with a cataract, we can now customize your cataract procedure based on your lifestyle and hobbies. For cataract patients who have astigmatism, we can now correct


your astigmatism at the same time as your cataract procedure. Depending on the severity of your astigmatism, this can be accomplished surgically or with specially designed Toric intraocular lens implants (IOL). Thanks to these and other advancements in diagnostics and IOLs, we can now also offer patients a broader, less restricted range of vision following cataract surgery. Our multi-focal IOLs are designed to improve your near, intermediate and distance vision with little or no dependence on corrective eyewear. For patients who have been diagnosed with Glaucoma or diabetes-related eye conditions, our surgeons are Fellowship trained in glaucoma management. Despite the many advances in glaucoma treatment in the past decade, it continues to be one of the leading causes of blindness. That’s because there are very few warning signs for glaucoma…until irreparable vision loss has already occurred. Fortunately, with early diagnosis and treatment, vision loss from glaucoma can be prevented. If there is a history of diabetes in your family, you should schedule annual retinal examinations to help detect early signs of diabetic-related eye disease. An important part of your surgical experience at Thurmond Eye Associates is the ability to have your procedure performed in the comfort, savings and convenience of a Medicare-Approved outpatient surgery center. The surgery staff for our physicians is among the most well-trained in the country and are dedicated to ensuring a personal and professional experience for each individual patient. So when it comes to something as precious as your vision, don’t settle for less. Look to the experienced eye care professionals at Thurmond Eye Associates.

Story Courtesy of: CRM Marketing Group Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

BIDDING WARS? An Emerging Real Estate Market Unbeatable Encounter

“For over 69 years Davis Real Estate has been delivering unparalleled real estate services to the Rio Grande Valley. Residential, Commercial, or agriculture, the Davis Company has been an admired company throughout the Valley. Our motto says it all, "We Deal in Real Estate, But Our Real Business Is People". We hold all our colleagues in the Valley's real estate industry in the highest esteem and among them none other than Lee Jinks, Association Executive of the Greater McAllen Association of Realtors who is responsible for the following statistical insights into the state of the market we service.”

Flo Lasater, Managing Broker – Davis Real Estate

Impressive Inventory

Everyone has heard the three most important things in real estate, LOCATION3. There is no national real estate market. Real estate is local. So when you ask, “What’s the average sales price of a home?” you must also provide a time frame and an area, in order to get the information you seek. The most common question, “How’s the real estate market?” might be an easier question to answer… if you know your history, because this question is relative.

Photos by: Omar Landeros

How is the real estate market? Having told you real estate is local, I’ll start with the state numbers first for comparison sake. Numbers of homes sold has steadily increased since 1982, until the national down turn in 2007. Texas saw a decrease, but began the recovery in 2010 and is now near the historic high in numbers of homes sold. Average sales price has also continued to increase to its current historic high of $184,400. But the one factor that may better describe the condition of the market than any other single measure is months of inventory. It’s a simple calculation that indicates how long it would take to sell the current inventory of listed homes if no new homes were added. It is generally understood that 6-months inventory is a balanced market. More than 6-months is a buyer’s market and less than 6-months is a seller’s market. Texas as a whole has been below 6-months inventory since January 2012 with today’s number being 3.5 and the greatest numbers of homes selling in the $200,000 range.

Gaining Back Equity By comparison, Harlingen is seeing months of inventory around 8 when historic numbers have been in the 20’s. Most homes are selling in the $100,000 to $120,000 range. Historically McAllen months of inventory ranges from 12 to 15, but the most recent data is showing 8-months of inventory. Like Harlingen, most homes sold in McAllen were in the $100,000 to $120,000 range, but there’s an interesting spike at $200,000. Looking at the Harlingen Market Data Report, active listing count is climbing, average list price is flat, days on market is seeing a steady increase, but months of inventory has remained low. These mixed indicators show a good real estate market, but watching these indicators over the next few months may give a better indication as to where the market is headed. McAllen’s Market Data Report shows that inventory has steadily declined since late 2014; average list price is seeing a marked increase along with price per square foot. Days on market shows a typical seasonal decline since the end of the year, and months of inventory is continuing to decline. Though months-of-inventory is the same as Harlingen at 8, this is the lowest this indicator has been for McAllen since before 1990. Couple this with a sharp increase in pending sales and one could say McAllen is experiencing the best real estate market they’ve ever seen. That’s a bold statement and we won’t really know until we can look back at it a year or two from now, but it is exciting none the less. The South Padre Island Market Data Report tells a similar story, but remember SPI real estate market is quite different from other cities in Cameron and Hidalgo Counties. Listing count is steady, days on market remains high as usual for SPI along with months of inventory typically in the 20’s.

Average Listing Price

The exciting news is that the past 12 months has seen a substantial increase in pending sales and as one would expect, average sales prices are well above $200,000. Each of these monthly reports is available from their respective REALTOR Boards. If you want more detailed market data, contact your local Texas REALTOR®. They have tools, training and experience to best evaluate and satisfy your real estate needs. Harlingen Board of REALTORS® 417 S Third St • Harlingen, TX 78550 (956) 425-1034

South Padre Island Board of REALTORS® 2111 Padre Blvd, Suite 5 • SPI, TX 78597 (956) 772-1940

McAllen Association of REALTORS® 509 W Nolana St • McAllen, TX 78504 (956) 682-4119

Brownsville-SPI Board of REALTORS® 1825 Central Blvd. • Brownsville, TX 78520 (956) 546-8920

Collectively, Davis Real Estate brings over 200 years of experience to your front door, regardless of the type of transaction; residential, commercial or investment. Davis Real Estate provides clients with an experience unlike anything available in the marketplace. Whether you are buying or selling – Deal with Davis Real Estate. Source: Lee Jinks, Association Executive · Greater McAllen Association of REALTORS® and Davis Realty

Market Report Source: REALTORS® Property Resource, LLC



Average Listing Price

Average Listing Price

Average Listing Price

Months of Inventory

Months of Inventory

Months of Inventory


The average price for all listed residential properties that were active at the endo of each monthly period.

Months of Inventory

Compares the number of months it would take to exhaust active listings at the current sales rate. Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015




(Rio Grande City & Roma reporting)


YEAR 2012 2013 2014 2012 2013 2014 2012 2013 2014 2012 2013 2014 2012 2013 2014

SINGLE FAMILY UNITS 1,012 1,090 1,179 2,866 2,572 2,871 106 56 64 37 46 98 4,021 3,764 4,212

2-4 FAMILY UNITS 104 136 96 409 576 423 17 17 1 0 0 0 530 729 520

5+ FAMILY UNITS 38 37 142 254 173 210 0 0 61 0 0 0 292 210 413

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Building Permits Survey, 2014





























La Feria




Los Fresnos



5,259,722.19 76,528,223.00












Palm Valley








Rancho Viejo






Rio Grande City










San Benito




San Juan




South Padre













Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

Source: Texas REALTOR速 Data Relevance Project

Commercial Real Estate Outlook

Here’s a glimpse from COSTAR, provided by Davis Equity - July 2015:

Looking for commercial property to buy or lease can be a laborious procedure, especially if you don’t know the market. Often, businesses investigating the possibility of expanding into or moving to the Valley aren’t ready to work with a commercial broker, yet look for some indication that a property that meets their plans is available at a reasonable price.


The EDC’s maintain a database of commercial and industrial properties, and can quickly assemble a selection of possibilities that will meet your needs without any commitment. They also work directly with commercial brokers and tenant representatives, as well as local development officials, so that they can offer accurate and timely information on zoning, permit requirements, utility cost and availability, and local incentives. They can also arrange for area tours for corporate representatives; view the EDC listing located in the front of this journal for contact information.

Industrial 12,987,639 - Existing sq. ft. Vacancy Rate – 14.6% Past year asking price per sq. ft. - $33 Asking rent per sq. ft. - $3.61

Cameron County (Eastern Hub)

Whatever your business, we’re here to help you reach your goals, and keep you moving ahead with confidence. - Davis Equity Realty



(Residential + Commercial)



















































Los Fresnos






16,737,205.19 203,837,964.00

Hidalgo La Feria





































Rancho Viejo

















Rio Grande City









3,785,618 – Existing sq. ft. Vacancy Rate – 9% Past year asking price per sq. ft. - $90 Asking rent per sq. ft. - $15.12 Hidalgo County (Western Hub)


29,623,134 - Existing sq. ft. Vacancy Rate – 5.8% Past year asking price per sq. ft. - $115 Asking rent per sq. ft. - $14.50


21,105,820 - Existing sq. ft. Vacancy Rate – 14.6% Past year asking price per sq. ft. - $47 Asking rent per sq. ft. - $4.70


8,962,391 – Existing sq. ft. Vacancy Rate – 8% Past year asking price per sq. ft. - $97 Asking rent per sq. ft. - $14.76


Mercedes Palm Valley

16,521,088 - Existing sq. ft. Vacancy Rate – 7.3% Past year asking price per sq. ft. - $118 Asking rent per sq. ft. - $13



San Benito







San Juan







South Padre





















Regional View (Cameron, Willacy, Hidalgo & Starr Counties) Retail

47,764,278 - Existing sq. ft. Vacancy Rate – 6.2%


34,192,913 - Existing sq. ft. Vacancy Rate – 14.6%


12,882,656 – Existing sq. ft. Vacancy Rate – 8.2%

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


DAVIS EQUITY REALTY South Texas Most Experienced Commercial Real Estate Specialists Project Development • Commercial Property Management • Service Minded LEASING Shopping Centers • Office • Medical • Industrial SALES Commercial • Retail Pad Sites • Land BROKERAGE Retail • Industrial • Investments • Development Services • Owner /Tenant Representation Service Focused Not Commission Focused

"Our major success in the Rio Grande Valley was facilitated by our relationship with you and your firm. Not only did we have an excellent broker/client relationship we became good friends as well. Dale, Randy and the Davis Equity Team always put their representation of us first and foremost. No one could have been more professional." Chris Job, Shamrock Ventures, Houston, TX

2290 W Pike #100 • Weslaco, TX 78596 Rio Grande Valley 956-969-8648 San Antonio 210-338-8000


Leaders in their market niche, Davis Equity Realty comes from a fourth-generation company specializing in commercial real estate development and real estate brokerage services that began when Dale Davis' great grandfather began doing real estate in Harlingen. “We empower management through supportive involvement, instilling a sense of urgency and fostering a culture of accelerated growth, helping portfolio companies embrace change and generate superior returns.” Big Box players like Walmart, Walgreens, Whataburger, and HEB turn to Davis Equity Realty, founded and owned by Dale Davis, a Weslaco native. Davis graduated from the University of Texas, and spent 17 years in the Dallas commercial real estate market. He started Davis Equity Realty in 1984 serving as the director of development for Cinemark Theaters, developing entertainment complexes throughout the USA, South America and Mexico. Since 1997, Randy Summers, Commercial Sales Manager, has been the local face representing Davis Equity Realty as Dale moved to the greater San Antonio area to expand the company's interests. Summers, a Rio Grande Valley/ Weslaco native is perfect for the position precisely because he is a native. Summers has the local knowledge needed to help commercial clients and has the business expertise as well; serving fifteen years as a commercial banker. David McDaniel is Property Manager of the Davis Company’s commercial assets. As a former American Express financial advisor and food manufacturing company business manager; McDaniel's skills have proven beneficial to asset management in the arena of investment property management. Keith Kinsolving is purveyor of the company's land acquisition. The McAllen native draws upon extensive experience in home building stemming from his former tenure as president of Kinsolving Construction Company in Austin during the 1980’s.

Dale Davis


Randy Summers, CCIM David McDaniel

Sales Manager Property Management Commercial Sales/Retail

Carlos “C.J.” Trevino is a Davis Equity Realty, Leasing Specialist, a grad of Texas A&M School of Real Estate and has been with the company for six years. Daniel Newman received his Bachelor’s Degree at UTSA in Real Estate Finance & Development after serving eight years with the United States Marine Corps. Before joining Davis Equity Realty he was a property manager overseeing five properties in San Antonio. Blake Harrington joined the Boerne office as a leasing associate and is the Development Coordinator, for San Antonio area projects. Harrington obtained his degree in real estate development from the University of Texas in San Antonio. “Most of the clients that come to Davis Equity Realty are looking for professional assistance with either acquiring commercial properties for their business or to lease space, according to Commercial Sales Manager,” Randy Summers. “Clients often need professional representation to negotiate the best location and best lease parameters that they can get to grow their business.” “This factor underscores commercial real estate's significance as a barometer for economic activity in the region,” Summers said. Job growth in particular is positive. Positive job growth means positive spending, which results in economic growth. It's a very significant barometer of what the economy is doing.”

Keith Kinsolving Sales and Leasing

Photos Courtesy of: Davis Equity Realty

C.J. Treviño

Sales and Leasing

Daniel Newman Sales and Leasing

Blake Harrington

Contact: 956-969-8648 or 800-713-7452 Visit:

Sales and Leasing

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


Public Transportation for the Valley


The Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council provides public transportation in urbanized and non-urbanized areas of the lower Rio Grande Valley through its transit department, Valley Metro. Valley Metro operates routes in Hidalgo, Cameron, Starr, Zapata and Willacy Counties.

Cost of Living Index

Our Cost of Living Indicators are based on a US average of 100. An amount below 100 the area is cheaper than the US average. A Cost of Living Index above 100 means the area is more expensive Overall, McAllen-Edinburg-Mission Metro Area, TX Cost of Living is 76.20.

Service hours are typically Monday - Saturday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.


Fares are $1 for adults (regular fare) and $.50 for students, the elderly (60+), the disabled, and veterans. Transfers from one bus to another are free. Children under 7, as well as students from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, STC, UTB and TSTC, ride free with an official ID.

McAllen/Edinburg/Mission, TX

United States






















According to Sperling’s Best Places to Live/Last Quarter 2014


Each quarter, C2ER collects more than 90,000 prices from communities across the US for the Cost of Living Index. With food prices a big part of the national media attention, C2ER decided to once again feature those communities with the most and least expensive food costs as measured by the grocery item index number. C2ER collects data on twenty-six items from a variety of surrogate categories to represent the grocery item component of the index. C2ER report provided by: McAllen Chamber of Commerce

Least Expensive 2nd Quarter of 2015 Average for 271 Urban Areas = 100 #4


Photo Courtesy of: Downtown Harlingen Merchants Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

McAllen, TX


DHR Brings Innovative, Life-Saving Research to the RGV In the United States, there is an

increased need for women and

minorities to participate in clinical

research. According to the Food and

Drug Administration (FDA), Hispanics

make up 17% of the total U.S. population

yet only represent 1% of clinical trial

participants. Scientific research has proven that there are significant differences in drug response, drug disposition, and

drug efficacy among various ethnic groups, including the Hispanic population.

Moreover, there is a higher incidence of

type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease,

stroke, infectious diseases, and different types of cancer among minorities.

For example, 12.8% of Hispanics in the U.S. have diabetes while only 7.6% of non-Hispanic whites are

afflicted by the disease .

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


Since research has demonstrated that biological

patients recognize signs and symptoms of their

differences can influence how people respond to

disease, understand the importance of treatment,

medicines, the process used to test the safety and

to urge them to readily seek treatment, and to

effectiveness of potential new treatments should

understand their treatment options, including clinical

accurately take into account the patient populations

trial participation. Patients must be empowered with

that will eventually use them.

the knowledge about their disease and the treatment options available to them in order to make the best

Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Health System (DHR)

decisions for their care.

recognized that an industry-wide collaborative effort was needed to increase participation in clinical trials in

Diabetes is among the top causes of mortality in our

underrepresented populations, such as women and

community; and the associated secondary effects of

Hispanics, thus forming the Research Institute at

diabetes are most detrimental. Through Harvard

Renaissance in 2014. Through the Research Institute

Medical School’s Joslin Diabetes Center Affiliate at

at Renaissance our goal is to encourage greater

Doctors Hospital at Renaissance, we have initiated

participation in clinical trials in the Rio Grande Valley

clinical trials for adults and children with Type 1 and

as a whole, as well as to expand investigator-initiated

Type 2 Diabetes, providing patients with access to the

research within our community.

most advanced form of therapy for diabetes treatment and very close monitoring and follow-up by the

The importance of bringing clinical research to the RGV

physicians conducting the clinical trial in order to best

is to provide patients with access to new, innovative,

manage the disease.

and life-saving treatment options. Presently, South Texans are extremely limited in their ability to access

Collaborative projects with Joslin Diabetes Center

innovative treatments due to a lack of leading research

have allowed the Research Institute at Renaissance to

centers in our area and a shortage of educational

formulate very strong partnerships with organizations

health information. Through the creation of the

such as the Verizon Foundation, which is helping to

Research Institute at Renaissance, and collaborations

leverage mobile technology in the self-management

with national research firms, all local residents will gain

of diabetes among the Latino population. Due the

access to life-saving trial programs.

significant medical advances and interventional efforts for the treatment of diabetes, we are seeing the impact

Underrepresented populations often face challenges

of this study. Patients are provided with mobile

when it comes to health awareness and education. To

technology (cell phone-based) and meet, ‘virtually’, with

overcome health literacy challenges in the Rio Grande

diabetes educators to discuss their progress from the

Valley, we have developed special programs to help

comfort of their own home. We are already witnessing


Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

the profound impact this study is having. For example,

pharmaceutical industry leaders and academic medical

between biomedical research and health care delivery,

one of our patients has been able to reduce and

centers to bring leading technology and treatment in the

the Research Institute at Renaissance will provide our

maintain her blood glucose levels in a matter of weeks…

areas of diabetes, oncology, cardiology, neonatology and

community with the treatment they need, and more

for the first time in her life!

women’s health to the Rio Grande Valley.

importantly, deserve.

Our goal at DHR is to provide alternative and innovative

Most recently, our affiliations with the Cancer Therapy

If you are interested in learning more about the clinical

options for the medical management of our patients via

Research Center, an NCI-designated Cancer Center in

research opportunities at the Research Institute at

cutting edge clinical research. Whether it is therapeutic

San Antonio, and Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston

Renaissance—and whether or not you qualify to

or non-therapeutic, we believe the option to participate

will allow DHR’s team of physician-scientists to be the

participate—call 956-362-2381.

in these types of studies will not only benefit them but

pioneers of Precision Medicine in the Rio Grande Valley.

their families and generations to come.

Our goal is to identify the genomic changes and understand the genetic landscape of these diseases so

The Research Institute at Renaissance is also fostering the

that we may be able to confidently identify the changes

drive of local physicians that want to engage in clinical

enriched in our population that are driving catastrophic

research. With their efforts, we have established and

diseases such as breast cancer and other diseases that

expanded partnerships with world-renowned

afflict our community. By recognizing the synergies

Data presented by J. Tierney in "Dialogues on Diversifying Clinical Trials," Washington, D.C., 2011 Sept 22. Dialogues on Diversifying Clinical Trials, Washington, D.C., 2011 Sept 22. National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2014.

Join Doctors Hospital at Renaissance as we revolutionize patient care our community!

Photos & Story Courtesy of: DHR

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


THE RGV VIPERS WILL BE THE ANCHOR TENANT TO THE LARGEST ARENA IN SOUTH TEXAS. The NBA Development League Rio Grande Valley Vipers, along with the City of Edinburg, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and Cantu Construction broke ground for the arena located at Interstate 69 and Alberta Road. The RGV Vipers will serve as the anchor tenant of Bert Ogden Arena and will tip off the team’s 10th season in the facility in the fall of 2016. In addition to being the home of the RGV Vipers, Bert Ogden Arena will host a variety of musical and entertainment acts year round. The new 8,500 seat venue that sits on a 40 acre tract of land, is scheduled to open October 2016. The project will cost $68 million to build. None of the monies will come from the tax payer. Bert Ogden Arena will bring fans closer to the game action. Because the arena is designed specifically around the basketball court, fans will enjoy a more intimate sports setting. Bert Ogden Arena will also display a jumbotron that measures 40-by-20 feet, the largest in the NBA Development League. Amenities inside Bert Ogden Arena will include a full-service restaurant, executive lounges and suites, along with a variety of concessions options. Additionally, the arena is positioned next to one million square feet of property for an outdoor shopping mall and restaurants Bert Ogden Arena will be funded by Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) and Edinburg Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) sales taxes. The arena is estimated to cost $68 million, with $30 million from bonds using TIRZ and EEDC taxes and $38 million funded by a private developer. The arena will be owned by the City of Edinburg and operated by the RGV Vipers. The arena will be the first phase of development for the 40 acres. The entire property will include pad sites, a future hotel, spaces for restaurants and the necessary parking it requires. A study provided by the University of Texas Pan American projects a $90 million immediate economic impact with the new facility and a $45 million impact each year after.


Renderings & Story Courtesy of: Edinburg EDC

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

EDINBURG - FASTEST GROWING SPORTS LEAGUE IN USA The United Soccer League (USL) awarded its 25th franchise to Alonzo Cantu, owner of the NBA Development League Rio Grande Valley Vipers. The club, known as RGVFC, will serve as the hybrid affiliate of the Houston Dynamo. RGVFC is slated to kick off in 2016. Additionally, the team plans to build a 9,400-seat stadium in the heart of Edinburg, Texas. The stadium, which is modeled after the Houston Dynamo’s BBVA Compass Stadium, will be located at the intersection of East Freddy Gonzalez Drive and South Raul Longoria Road. This vibrant economic market with a population of 1.3 million enjoys a long tradition in soccer. RGVFC is a first-class sports organization that will treat the passionate south Texas soccer fans to a state-of-the-art 9,400-seat soccer-specific stadium – now under construction – which surely will become a source of pride for the region. “Today is an exciting day for the Rio Grande Valley. Our ownership is proud to bring a United Soccer League franchise to the Valley. As the fastest growing sports league in the country, the USL is a perfect fit for our rapidly growing region,” RGVFC’s Bert Garcia said. “We are also excited about our partnership with the Houston Dynamo. RGVFC and the Dynamo are the first professional soccer franchises to operate under hybrid affiliation. The model has proven successful in this region and we look forward to kick off next spring (2016). The USL features 24 clubs in the U.S. and Canada in 2015, including new clubs in Austin, Charlotte, Colorado Springs, Louisville, Montreal, New York, Portland, Saint Louis, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Toronto, Tulsa, and Vancouver and now in Edinburg. The strategic expansion of the league has led to the development of more regional competition through the reduction of travel, and has further strengthened local and regional rivalries - the lifeblood of a strong professional league.

Renderings & Story Courtesy of: Edinburg EDC

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


RESACA MARKET / LA SIENNA MASTER PLANNED COMMUNITY Another major retail and entertainment complex, complete with a hotel, is in the planning stages for Edinburg, a project that could bring in as much as $300 million a year into the city’s economy. The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has been working with Burns Brothers, LTD, a local development firm which in 2008 created the 726-acre La Sienna Master Planned Community and Resaca Market. In general, a master planned community is an economically-upscale residential center, with homes built by several different builders, pools, trails, and other recreational facilities, designed to provide all the major amenities to its residents. There are often adjacent commercial districts with shopping and entertainment venues, as would be the case with the Resaca Market. This Master Planned Community is located by the U.S. Expressway 281/169C and Monte Cristo Rd, just three miles North of Downtown Edinburg and six miles north of the $54 million, 8,500-seat Bert Ogden Arena. The Resaca Market would feature 500,000 square feet of retail, restaurants, hotel, shopping, entertainment, movie theaters, and more. 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. “LOCATION3” – that famous selling point for successful real estate transactions – is one of the major themes Edinburg has been using in encouraging new commercial and residential developments and expansions in the city, including along the frontage roads of the 18-mile stretch of U.S. Expressway 281/I69C that spans Edinburg’s southern and northern city limits. Other existing and planned retail venues, such as the city’s third H-E-B supermarket, are drawn by the high-traffic counts of U.S. Expressway 281/I69C in south Edinburg. That region will also soon boast the $54 million, 8,500-seat arena, to be owned by the city, that will serve as home to the NBA-affiliated Rio Grande Valley Vipers professional basketball team, as well as host major concerts and other large gatherings.


Renderings & Story Courtesy of: Edinburg EDC Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

STARGATE to launch UTRGV as leader in space exploration research The arrival of SpaceX provides a platform for the establishment of STARGATE – the flagship program of the Center of Advanced Radio Astronomy (CARA), the first research center of excellence for The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. STARGATE is a cooperative effort between CARA and SpaceX to develop and support the commercialization of phased-array technology for satellite and space vehicle communication and tracking. “UTRGV will be focused on research, and STARGATE will provide a strong research anchor and a pipeline of researchers, innovators and leaders that will help UTRGV reach global status,” said UTRGV President Guy Bailey, Ph.D. The STARGATE complex will be a radio frequency technology innovation center located adjacent to the SpaceX launch site command center. SpaceX will assemble and launch their signature advanced rockets and spacecraft, with launches every month at the Boca Chica Beach site. When not being used for launches, SpaceX facilities will be used by student and faculty researchers at STARGATE for training, scientific research and technology development. CARA, UTRGV’s world class teaching and research center now working directly under the Senior Vice President of Research, Innovation, and Economic Development, Dr. Theresa Maldonado, was key to establishing the partnership. Many CARA students who study astrophysics go on to graduate school at internationally-renowned programs after earning their degrees at UT Rio Grande Valley. "Virtually overnight, STARGATE is establishing UTRGV as a leader in space exploration research, giving

worldwide recognition to the new University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. It will have a tremendous impact on our faculty and, most importantly, our students,” said Fredrick A Jenet, Ph.D., the creator and principal investigator of the STARGATE project and the director of CARA. A total of $4.4 million from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, $4.6 million from The University of Texas System, $500,000 from the Greater Brownsville Incentive Corporation, and $1.2 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration will enable STARGATE researchers to develop the next generation of radio signal receiving and transmitting systems based on "phased-array" technology. This technology has the potential to be transformational in the commercial space and aviation sectors as well as in commercial communications markets. UT System’s contribution will primarily fund facilities and support infrastructure for the project.

A leading center of deep space research based on radio frequency technologies


Designs, manufactures and launches the world’s most advanced rockets and spacecraft

= STARGATE Fostering the spirit of Silicon Valley in the Rio Grande Valley

In addition to laboratories for research and development, STARGATE will also be home to a focused business incubator that will help promote space exploration related businesses in the region. STARGATE presents extraordinary opportunities for the development of high-tech jobs for South Texas, both directly with SpaceX and with the associated commercial development it will draw to the Rio Grande Valley. Photos & Story Courtesy of: UTRGV Data Center

We Will Lead the Valley. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is built to inspire. In ways small and large, UTRGV brings to life programs and events that strengthen our communities, deliver practical guidance to Valley businesses, and improve our lives through better health care. • We will be an economic catalyst by building relationships with Valley organizations, collaborating on new business incubation, and providing internship and employment opportunities with leading companies. By hiring faculty and staff from the Valley, we are also one of the region’s largest employers. • We will enhance local communities by inspiring young people to dream big and trust that UTRGV is part of their community and their future. We will connect with our community through tutoring and reading programs, as well as other service learning and volunteer activities—our faculty, staff and students applying what they know to solve real problems. • We will strengthen the educational pipeline through scholarship and mentoring programs designed to improve student success in Valley schools and increase our students’ college and career readiness. • We will deliver world-class health care and medical education through our state-of-the-art School of Medicine and the South Texas Diabetes & Obesity Institute. Our work will revolutionize health care in the region through partnerships with hospitals, new residency programs, remarkable health education and innovative research that will help find new breakthroughs in treatment.

Transforming South Texas.

As a new university for the 21st century, UTRGV is a place for visionary thinkers taking on global challenges. Our core mission is to enhance life here in the Rio Grande Valley—through our people, our programs and our understanding of local issues. Our location provides students and faculty one-of-a-kind educational and research opportunities. We are delivering education in a new way, providing our students access to amazing opportunities. With our new resources and a distinctive university distributed throughout the Valley, students will experience the best education in all fields, particularly the coastal sciences, space exploration, engineering, business and the health professions.

Consider: • Center for Advance Radio Astronomy (CARA) is a first-of-its-kind research, technology commercialization and educational center UTRGV. CARA’s STARGATE Center facilitates a public-private partnership between UTRGV and SpaceX. Students engage in research with UTRGV scientists at the STARGATE technology incubator, located next to the SpaceX command and control center. We are putting the Valley on the forefront of the most innovative work in space-based radio technology. • Our coastal and marine research programs are built on a strong academic foundation in biology and environmental sciences. Through the rich discovery offered by our coastal studies program, UTRGV helps us conserve and protect our natural surroundings, from the seabed to the Gulf shore. Our interdisciplinary scientific research and education extends from marine biology to wind energy—anything that affects our coastal environment and economy. • Advanced manufacturing is improving manufacturing processes and streamlining the production of goods and services on both sides of the border. The program drives innovation and economic development, with students gaining experience with applied problem solving and technical manufacturing innovation. Advanced manufacturing is strengthening the region’s ability to sustain economic prosperity, bringing to life new products and processes and transforming the region into an international hub of innovation.

• And while the UTRGV School of Medicine is awaiting accreditation in fall 2015, the South Texas Diabetes & Obesity Institute is already established as a flagship, world-class research center. By advancing the study of diabetes and obesity and correlated disorders through genetic and biomedical research, the institute is working to improving the health of residents in South Texas and beyond. To learn more about how UTRGV is impacting you and the Valley, visit

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. New opportunities for the 21st century. Photo & Story Courtesy of: Ampersand Agency

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015



The Charles R. Johnson Airport in Port Mansfield is a government operated airport managed by the Willacy County Navigation District. This airport currently services small private aircraft and hosts the nation’s premier Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) approved to test and fly unmanned aircraft. Just a few years ago, drones, or Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle (UAV), were virtually unknown.


















Harlingen Photo: McAllen Miller International Airport

Looking for DRONE PICS to showcase your business or community? Call: Abel Riojas Photography 956-624-4042



















Courtesy of: Rio Grande Valley Partnership Barometer

VALLEY AIRPORTS Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport 700 Amelia Earhart Dr. Brownsville, TX (956) 542-4373 Charles R. Johnson Airport Port Mansfield, TX 78598 (956) 689-3332 Gulf Aviation 5001 Bodenhamer Avenue Harlingen, TX 78550 (956) 423-7317


McAllen Miller International Airport 2500 S Bicentennial Blvd. McAllen, TX 78503 (956) 681-1500 McCreery Aviation Co., Inc. 2400 S 10th Street McAllen, TX 78503 (956) 686-1774 Rio Grande City Airport 381 North FM 3167 Rio Grande City, TX 78582 (956) 487-0672

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

South Texas International Airport at Edinburg 1300 E FM 490 Edinburg, TX 78542 (956) 292-2047 Valley International Airport 3002 Heritage Way Harlingen, TX 78550 (956) 430-8600 Weslaco Mid-Valley Airport 1909 Joe Stephens Ave Weslaco, TX 78596 (956) 969-0291

The use of unmanned aircraft is vital to research, business and safety. Areas of use for UAS are likely to include: • search-and rescue missions, surveying disaster areas or accident scenes; • mapping coastlines to observe changes over time; • and inventory of wildlife, habitats, agriculture and pipelines through remote areas. While the test site designation does not come with federal funding, studies show an anticipated economic impact, once airspace is opened to UAS, would be about $6.5 billion and 8,256 jobs statewide from 2015 to 2025. With a 3200 foot runway the Port Mansfield range is only 45-minutes from Harlingen and adjacent to another approved range just south of Corpus Christi near Sarita, Texas. The University of Texas A&M regularly flies its 13-foot wingspan UAV at the Corpus range, the Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle belly lands in soft, sandy flats common to the area. Charles R. Johnson Airport also offers fueling and tie-down services. Story & Photo Courtesy of: Willacy County Navigation District/Texas A&M University Corpus Christi

Raymondville - “City with a Smile” The City of Raymondville and the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) are here to improve and enhance the lives of all the 11,284 citizens who live, work and play in our community. The city through its EDC, is currently constructing a new state of

the art Public Safety Building, a multi-field sports complex and is remodeling the city’s nine-hole Municipal Golf Course and Club

throughout our community. Because of our excellent fiber optics

and available property, there are endless opportunities available.


Our state of the art Rural Technology Building has many things to

The city and the EDC through their Revolving Loan Program, offer

of Raymondville and surrounding Willacy County. At our Rural

financial loan assistance to new and expanding businesses that

wish to locate in our business community. We offer site selection

offer, and has become a business and training hub for the city

Technology Building we house and have partnered up with Texas State Technical College and Valley Grande Institute to help offer

assistance, real estate database with properties and buildings,

educational opportunities for our citizens. We also have incubator

and local assistance and incentives to help lower your project

convenient and affordable.

business seminars, job training assistance, coordination of state investment cost. We have been successful in assisting developers apply and receiving grant funds through state and local programs such as the Texas Capital Fund.

office space available for small startup businesses that is

We welcome all business prospects to come and

discover the array of

Even though we are a rural community, we are excited to

incentives and services

to offer the highest speed internet available through

assist business in their

boast about our state of the art technology. We are able

VTX, which has installed new fiber optics (broad band)

that we have available to development.

Photos & Story Courtesy of: City of Raymondville EDC

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


Willacy County Whether you are passing through for the first time, or have accepted our invitation to “make yourself at home,” you’ll find Willacy County offers a smorgasbord of wildlife within its boundaries. It is a haven for non-consumptive outdoor activities such as world class bird watching, outdoor photography, kayaking and hiking. Port Mansfield is one of Willacy’s recreational nature jewels, offering a new Laguna Point Park with boardwalks, fishing pier and bird viewing area and a new playground. In addition, a historic and natural treasure is the East Salt Lake. It is one of three magnificent historic salt lakes whose historical use includes brine shrimp harvesting, therapeutic wading pools, and more recently, to aid in oil and natural gas drilling. Willacy County is also rich with beautiful scenery, hunting opportunities on private ranches and a sport fishing heritage savored by the efforts in land and water stewardship.

Port of Port Mansfield Willacy County Navigation District

Here, seafood is treasured, sunsets are worshipped and things are just a bit laid back. Come by car, come by boat, stay for a while – we’ll make you feel like family! The port of Port Mansfield is a shallow water port of entry immediately adjacent to the Intracoastal Waterway which was recently dredged and reopened for commercial business. Located in Port Mansfield is the Charles Johnson Airport, a government operated airport managed by the Willacy County Navigation District. The airport currently services small private aircraft and hosts the nation’s premier Unmanned Aircraft testing material operated by Texas A & M Corpus Christi on its 3800 foot runway. It offers fueling and tie down services as well. Photo Courtesy of: Willacy Co. Navigation District

Raymondville EDC

The City of Raymondville and the Economic Development Corporation offer the following financial incentives in order to attract business prospects to the City of Raymondville. The incentives offered are linked to the creation of primary jobs and the amount of investment made in our community: Local Incentives ➢ Tax abatements ➢ Land incentive ➢ Job training ➢ Revolving Loan Programs ➢ Financial Assistance ➢ New Construction Assistance ➢ Expansion Assistance ➢ (3) Local Banks: Wells Fargo, Compass Bank, First Community Bank and VFCU ➢ Communication grants through VTX1 State Incentives ➢ Small Business Administration low interest loans for expansion and operations ➢ Texas Capital Grant for infrastructure ➢ Texas Capital Grant/Loan for structure ➢ Workforce Development ➢ REDLG 0 interest for 20 years loan through our local Co-Op’s

Raymondville Chamber of Commerce

There’s something about Raymondville that sticks with you The bonds we form, and the memories we build here whether though a lifetime, or in a single day. The Raymondville Chamber of Commerce is committed to the community we serve, with a goal that furthers the interests of businesses and it advocates as the voice of its membership. Tourism, ecotourism, business promotion, business attraction and expansion, are the focus of the Raymondville Chamber of Commerce, serving Willacy County. The Chamber hosts networking opportunities through its quarterly mixers, monthly networking breakfasts and Grand openings and Ground breakings. Members of the Chamber are kept in the loop through social media, a Chamber website, e-mail and mail outs. Additionally, the Chamber hosts several events throughout the year including: Pioneer Days, Wild in Willacy, a July 4th festival and an Annual Christmas Parade. Weave yourself into our thriving story, it’s a tale we’re writing day by day. Photo Courtesy of: City of Raymondville

Choose the City of Raymondville for your next business venture by contacting our Economic Development Department at (956) 689-1862 to discuss all the programs and incentives available for your project. Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


CONNECTING SOUTH TEXAS TO THE WORLD High-speed Internet, quality television and affordable telephone services are available in South Texas using fiber optic broadband access, the industry’s most reliable technology. “We continue to expand our capabilities as a broadband provider,” said VTX1 CEO Dave Osborn. “Therefore, our business partners in Mexico and across the nation will greatly benefit from this project. Higher bandwidth speeds are only the beginning to an array of services and advancement opportunities for South Texas communities.” For over 60 years, Valley Telephone Cooperative, Inc. and its affiliates: VTX Communications, LLC and VTX Telecom, LLC have provided advanced telecommunication services to rural communities in South Texas. VTX Communications and VTX Telecom were established to reach new communities and diversify their original product line, telephone service, to other lines of business such as wireless Internet and data transport. In an effort to continue to provide the best quality and the most value to its approximately 10,000 customers, the organization is unifying its corporate identity under a single brand name VTX1.

Education and health institutions across the Rio Grande Valley will also be connected to the VTX1 Fiber Optic Network including The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (Brownsville & Edinburg), South Texas College, Texas State Technical College and the University of Texas Health Science Center. Broadband Internet access within VTX1 communities is available through fiber optic or wireless connection starting at $30. Interested customers may call 1-800-446-2031 or visit to learn more. Photos & Story Courtesy of: VTX1

Business Offices are located in George West, Jourdanton and Dilley. The main Work Center is located in Lasara and corporate headquarters are located in Raymondville, Texas. “Our network will fundamentally alter the technology landscape in South Texas and make it one of the most desirable locations in the country for business growth and new business relocations,” said Osborn. “We already have good weather and a workforce with a strong work ethic – adding the fiber-optic broadband component will make us unique and highly desirable on a national scale.” Broadband access in new rural communities will spark endless development opportunities in the areas of education, health and commerce. This is why the organization is expanding its fiber optic broadband network to include 12 new communities: Raymondville, Lyford, Sebastian, Santa Rosa, Agua Dulce, Orange Grove, George West, Three Rivers, Jourdanton, Charlotte, Falfurrias and Premont. Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


Tourism is Economic Development Today, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the business volume of tourism equals or even surpasses that of oil exports, food products or automobiles. Tourism has

become one of the major players in international commerce, and represents at the same time one of the main income sources for

many developing countries. This growth goes hand in hand with an

increasing diversification and competition among destinations.

This global spread of tourism in industrialized and developed states has produced economic and employment benefits in many related sectors - from construction to agriculture and telecommunications.

The Office of the Governor on Economic Development and Tourism reports that in Texas, preliminary estimates show that direct travel spending reached $70.5 billion in 2014, an increase of 4.5% over the previous year, and the fifth consecutive year of growth. More

than half of direct travel spending at Texas destinations comes from out-of-state domestic and international markets. Travel spending in Texas directly supported 630,000 jobs, and an additional 474,000

jobs indirectly across many industry sectors. Some examples include leisure and hospitality, transportation, retail trade, services, finance,

Photo credits: Above - National Butterfly Center, Mission - Photographer, Luciano Guerra; Below left - Steve Sinclair; Below right - Andy Hancock

real estate, construction, insurance, and others. STORY CONTRIBUTORS Nancy Millar - Vice President McAllen Convention & Visitors Bureau

Spencer Bell - General Manager Holiday Inn Express & Suites - Weslaco

Nydia O. Tapia-Gonzalez Exec. Dir. South Texas Nature

“Tourism is a mighty economic force in the Rio Grande Valley,” said McAllen Convention & Visitors Bureau Vice President, Nancy Millar, adding that no one disputes the fact that Mexican nationals, Winter Texans, nature tourists, convention attendees, sports events attendees, and others come into the region by the millions, use our transportation, stay at our hotels, eat in our restaurants, shop, and therefore enormously benefit the economy of the Valley. “Furthermore,” continued Millar, “the value of visitors goes much deeper. Indirect economic impact is also important, for ancillary businesses benefit from tourism as well. Farmers who sell produce to restaurants, lawn care and advertising companies. Hotels need linen supply companies, office equipment, and printing services. Retail stores need accountants, décor and cleaning services and so on. Because of tourism, every single household benefits to the tune of $900 annually, which is the average amount of property tax increases Texans would have to pay in order to continue enjoying basic city services,” Millar said.

opening of the Rio Grande Valley Premium Outlet Mall. Visitors from Mexico and various parts of Texas discovered Weslaco while enjoying shopping trips according to Spencer. However, he added, the Outlet Mall is not the only attraction as Rio of Mercedes, Boots and Jeans, and the Weslaco retail corridor that includes Academy, Walmart, and Office Depot, to name just a few, has grown along Interstate 2 over the past 10 years.

In the mid Valley, hoteliers like Spencer Bell, General Manager of Weslaco’s Holiday Inn Express & Suites, have witnessed nature tourism grow as more people from outside of South Texas, and even outside of the state, learn about the natural assets of our area. “In Weslaco, we have three superb parks that include the Estero Llano Grande State Park and World Birding Center, the Valley Nature Center and Frontera Audubon. It is not uncommon to see international travelers in the Rio Grande Valley as a result of nature tourism,” stated Spencer. Spencer reported for this article that traveler numbers to the mid Valley for retail shopping purposes exploded since the

The Brownsville – Harlingen Metropolitan area has experienced a steady growth in direct travel visitor spending totaling 823.7 million in 2013; a 6.9 % increase from 2011. Dean Runyan’s travel impact data reports that the same area supported 8,113 of total direct tourism employment in 2013 and generated 17.8 million in local tax receipts from visitor expenditures; an increase of 13.4% since 2011. Cameron County is home to South Padre Island; a top USA beach resort destination and a community that heavily relies on the tourism industry. The Texas comptroller website shows that during the third quarter – high season - of 2014, the Island collected $40,366,333.26 in hotel taxable receipts, and $12,855,058.26

Gladys Porter Zoo - Photo by: Carlos Nuñez

Historic Casa de Palmas Hotel - Photo Courtesy of: City of McAllen

“Although Mexico travel is not like in the heyday before 2007-08, many people still visit our area and include a trip to Mexico in their plans. Medical tourism plays a large role as the cost of dental work in Mexico remains much more affordable than services performed on the US side. No opinion on tourism in the Rio Grande Valley would be complete without the inclusion of Winter Texans. As a hotel property owner, I can say that we see some long-term rentals from Winter Texans, but most of them opt to stay in RV parks that cater to the Winter Texans,” concluded Spencer.

taxable receipts in the first quarter of 2015. From these totals, the Island hotel occupancy tax is 14.5% of which 6% goes to the state for tourism promotion, 8% stays in the city, and .5% is used for beach nourishment. Tourism professionals and stakeholders in the Rio Grande Valley agree with the UNWTO on the impact tourism has on the economy, on the natural and built environment, on the local population and on the tourists themselves. Because of these multiple impacts, the variety of production factors required to produce goods and services acquired by visitors, and the numerous stakeholders affected by tourism, there is a need for a comprehensive approach to tourism development, management and monitoring. In Texas there is a law that governs the use of the hotel occupancy taxes collected by communities. “Retail sales taxes usually go into a city’s general fund,” said Nancy Millar, “but hotel occupancy tax is, by Texas law, only allowed to be used for specific purposes. Its primary and arguably most important use is for the marketing and promotion of the destination itself. The competition is always advertising and promoting, and the Valley needs to keep up to continue receiving its share of the huge tourism market. The stronger the advertising and marketing campaigns, the more potential visitors it will reach, and the more potent the impact. Tourism touches us all. It can also help put a shine on a community’s image, increase residents’ quality of life, and prop up local pride of place. Tourism is valuable. Tourism is money,” concluded Millar.

RGV Premium Outlet Mall - Photo Courtesy of: Mercedes EDC

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


Economic View Texas possesses advantages – relatively low living costs, an attractive business climate, a central Sunbelt location, and a balanced mix of industries – that have enabled it to grow faster than the nation for many years. These advantages remain and will allow the state to outperform the nation over the next year. Despite the headwinds presented by a still-recovering national economy and by continuing international financial and economic challenges, the Texas economy, as measured by real gross state product, is projected to grow by 3.5 percent in 2015. Source: Susan Combs Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Chart Data Courtesy of: UTRGV - Data & Information Systems Center

City Name


Bayview Brownsville Combes Harlingen La Feria Laguna Vista Los Fresnos Los Indios Palm Valley Port Isabel Primera Rancho Viejo Rio Hondo San Benito Santa Rosa South Padre Island Alamo Alton Donna Edcouch Edinburg Elsa Granjeno Hidalgo La Joya La Villa McAllen Mercedes Mission Palmhurst Palmview Penitas Pharr Progreso Progreso Lakes San Juan Sullivan City Weslaco Escobares Grulla Rio Grande City Roma Lyford Raymondville

Cameron Cameron Cameron Cameron Cameron Cameron Cameron Cameron Cameron Cameron Cameron Cameron Cameron Cameron Cameron Cameron Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Hidalgo Starr Starr Starr Starr Willacy Willacy

Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Local Sales and Use Tax Rates, 4/2015.


Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

Sales and Use Tax Rate 0.0725 0.0825 0.075 0.0825 0.0825 0.0775 0.0825 0.08 0.0725 0.0825 0.0825 0.0725 0.0825 0.0825 0.0725 0.0825 0.0825 0.0825 0.0825 0.0825 0.0825 0.0825 0.0725 0.0825 0.0825 0.0725 0.0825 0.0825 0.0825 0.0825 0.0825 0.0825 0.0825 0.0825 0.0775 0.0825 0.0825 0.0825 0.0825 0.0725 0.0825 0.0825 0.0825 0.0825

Photo & Story Courtesy of: MVEC


Home of Javelina Pride

As the 2015 school year came to an end, many students prepared for a busy summer becoming a Texas A&M Kingsville student. The STEM and GEAR UP students of Mercedes High School worked into the transition of leaving the high school environment.

Going away for college is always a challenge, especially when leaving the heat and solace of the Rio Grande Valley.

They were welcomed into a hybrid class the first two weeks on site of Mercedes High School. After completion of the hybrid classes, the students joined a residential camp in which they resided in dorms and were able to experience the “total college experience”.

Harvard Bound

Temperatures and aspirations transformed as students traveled 2,188.4 miles to visit one of the earliest English settlements in North America. Both Boston, Massachusetts and Providence, Rhode Island are situated in the lower segment of New England where the first movements of American literature, philosophy, and education originated. The Texas Graduate Center located in Mercedes supported this year’s trip to the East Coast. Valley students ventured to four different universities: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Boston University, and Brown University. At each university, they received a detailed tour and met with students who currently attend these schools from the Rio Grande Valley. Forty-five students attended the New England campus tour from throughout the Valley and had the time of their lives. This was a profound experience for our students to visit and learn about universities along the Eastern Shore; offering a world of possibility. Students were provided time to ask questions about both admission and financial aid. The experience supplied students with a glimpse of what a college lifestyle might offer in their very near future.

Fast Path to Success

BioFORCE is an experiential Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) outreach program of the National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing (NCTM) at Texas A&M that provides developmental activities to high school students to prepare them to become part of the biotechnology and bio manufacturing workforces. This year the program had 116 student applicants apply for the BioFORCE I (currently entering 10th grade) and only 50 were selected. Students from all across the State of Texas participate in the program, ranging from El Paso, Dallas, McAllen, Houston, Nacogdoches and many more. The selection process ranked students based on their transcript, student authored essay, and teacher recommendation, all were required to apply for the program. This is a three year curriculum. The Mercedes High School STEM Academy submitted six candidates for consideration and all six gained entrance. If a student is selected and participates in BioFORCE I, they are invited back the next 2 summers to participate in BioFORCE II & III upon completion of the sophomore and junior years.

The partnership with TAMUK, STEM, and GEAR UP was a first of its kind. The group consisted of incoming sophomores and juniors working towards a three college credit course of Speech. They attended workshops on financial aid, SAT and ACT preparation, and worked on time management. Students were provided with study time, meals in the school’s cafeteria, and a dorm. As students boarded the bus to Kingsville, they said their goodbyes to their families with tears of sadness and tears of joy as they departed for the university with one goal in mind – to make their family proud.

“Janelle de la Cerda stated, “the best part of the camp was that I made lifelong friends. I know that I have the confidence to make friends when I go away to school.” This hands-on training and college course work collaboration allowed students the ability to learn and grow in the success of college readiness.” Photos Courtesy of: Mercedes ISD

Throughout the week the students participated in hands-on lab activities, exposing them to some of the basic scientific experiments that are conducted in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. In addition, students toured other research labs on campus, and participated in a field trip to Houston, where they visited other biotech companies. The objective was to expose the participants to all the career opportunities within these STEM fields. Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


BIG BOOTS. BIG OPPORTUNITIES. The art of public relations is becoming a science. It is a key piece of any good marketing strategy. The “big idea” that gets noticed through publicity and pure luck makes perception the reality.

Bragging Rights:

• Headquarters to Magic Valley Electric Cooperative • Home to Rios of Mercedes Boots • Rio Grande Valley Premium Outlets • Mercedes Early College High School – part of the Mercedes Independent School District • Little Nashville in Mercedes – a monthly live music event held in historic downtown • VIDA Workforce Development • Headquarters to Woodcrafters Home Products, LLC • Within minutes to 3 International Bridges • Estero Llano Grande State Park & World Birding Center • Home to Borden’s Dairy Distribution Center • Llano Grande Retirement Resort Community • Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show & Rodeo • South Texas Independent School District offices and two of the nations best high schools • Texas Street Festival held on the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend • Boutique shopping & antique stores

• Botas de Mercedes – largest art installation of 30 life-size cowboy boots • Coming soon: Knapp Hospital Family Practice Residency Center


Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

It’s difficult to calculate just how successful a “big idea” might be in this day and age. But if you combine passion with a worthwhile project and combine it with social media and a great public relations program – you get skyrockets in flight! Benjamin Franklin said either write about something worth reading or do something worth writing about. It makes so much sense. And quite frankly this is precisely what PR is; creating something so unique it is worth writing about. Nothing says Texas more than boots and no one knows that more than the quiet community of Mercedes in the Rio Grande Valley. Boots have been a staple of the western lifestyle for generations and the spirit of the cowboy is alive and kicking as the City of Mercedes puts their boots where their mouth is - as they promote the fact that this community is home to several custom boot makers. The boot project in Mercedes has developed its own life force that could not have been anticipated. It was difficult to calculate its possible success ahead of time. What was known is it would be something no other community has and could draw some attention. It was also important to use the project to stress higher education to the community. But the bigger picture was to get the Queen City noticed from outside the immediate circle. It worked. Mercedes is getting noticed.

Mercedes, Texas - Kicking it up a notch! The Queen City of Mercedes is in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley – the center of the region’s I-2 corridor. Mercedes boasts a pro-business cooperative climate, outstanding schools and a relaxed family atmosphere - all blended together for an enjoyable affordable quality of life. Just minutes from two major airports, convenient to key business centers, several hospitals, as well as college and university campuses, Mercedes is the perfect location to do business, live and raise a family.

The Future is Today Abraham Lincoln is credited with the following, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together. It is true, without growth and progress, such words, as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning. Growth and change can be agonizing and slow at times, but in the end worth it – so patience is key. Not all change is automatically growth, but almost always growth entails a change, even if only a mindset. In these efforts collaboration is the key and municipal governments, development corporations and private business work together as a force for change. Economic

development is the sustained effort to stimulate investment, improving economic and social conditions, enhancing the business environment while maintaining the cultural identity of the community. The Queen City is getting noticed by energizing the community through concerted and planned efforts. The results so far have been quite clear with new businesses, relocations and expansions taking place in Mercedes as we speak. Numerous investors from across the region, Texas and the country are considering the community. But the proof is in the pudding with the actual commitments; large-scale investments have been inked and are moving forward. Construction of a new multi-tenant building at the Industrial Park has begun. ZIWA Construction has broken ground on the first new construction in recent memory at the park. This company has the experience, resources and contacts

that will keep the 26,000 square foot facility fully leased. Mercedes location in the center of the Valley is perfect for distribution centers that service the entire valley. By early 2016, ground will be broken for a new Family Practice Residency Center; a collegial effort of Knapp Medical Center and the UTRGV Medical Center cooperating to provide needed medical residency slots. The new center will be located at the northwest corner of Mile 2 and Expressway 83. This is significant for the Mid Valley as it will be part of the new Medical School’s clinical training program in a supportive collaborative environment. The family and community medicine program is a major graduate medical training platform that will have a significant impact on the quality of care delivery and health outcomes for the region. The location for this clinic is strategic as it is just across the road from South Texas High School for Health Professions (Med-High) – part of the South Texas Independent School District. The leaders of UTRGV were particularly happy with this as they have an initiative called Middle School to Medical School encouraging young students to go into the health professions. Directly behind the new Family Practice Clinic, CL Healthcare from Austin is planning to develop a 100-bed nursing home. It is a multi-million dollar investment by a company that has developed nursing homes and rehabilitation centers across Texas. They chose Mercedes because they took notice that the community is one that is intent on growth and has a perfect location to serve the Mid Valley. The Queen City is getting commitments on projects like these because of the city’s commitment to improve the economic and social conditions of the community. The city is growing because of the commitment to progress…Mercedes Style.

417 S Ohio Ave, Mercedes, TX 78570 (956) 565-2230 Photos & Story Courtesy of: Development Corporation of Mercedes Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015



Deciding on a destination can sometimes be a matter of chance. Harlingen’s crossroads transcend its geographic location at the center of the Rio Grande Valley. Are you the type who appreciates Southern hospitality and a friendly smile? Harlingen’s vibe is warm and inviting, and our people are truly neighborly. Ask a question, and the answer will most often be accompanied by a good birding story. Birding excursions through the internationally acclaimed Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival unite nine World Birding Centers with a number of nature sites across South Texas annually. Over four hundred species of birds have been identified in Harlingen and some species – like the Red-Crowned Parrots – make their home here. Landing at Valley International Airport provides travelers with a short, scenic drive to South Padre Island. Do you appreciate cool and eclectic shopping excursions mixed with fun? Harlingen has grown-up around its original site; where getting lost in one store after another can lead to adventure. • Jackson Street District – Offers age old antiquing and a farmers market preserving the city’s past • When it comes to local flavor, the choices are endless Downtown offers a diverse selection of specialty restaurants • Entertainment and meeting facilities are found within trendy restaurants • Shop Harlingen and discover one-of-a-kind treasures From high-end décor to unique bargain finds, clothing, art, and outdoor gear • A must-do for tourists and locals alike – Gaze upon more than 20 colorful murals on a Segway or walking tour • An alternative popular visitor destination - The original full-size plaster model of Iwo Jima Memorial & Museum • A luxury hotel was transformed into “The Reese” where you can experience fine dining and enjoy live music on the patio

Photo by: Steve Sinclair

If “getting away” includes a place where you can soak in history, arts and culture - Action packed celebrations are open year-round that keep folks coming back! • • • • •

Cinco de Mayo Diez y Seis de Septiembre “Blues on the Hill” CineSol Film Festival The auditorium boasts a full schedule of plays, concerts, dances, lectures & exhibits • The Jalapeño 100 Bike Ride • Harlingen Half-Marathon A health conscious Harlingen maintains first-rate soccer, tennis, golf and softball facilities that host competitions for athletes of all ages. Additionally, treating illness and injury for all ages the medical and healthcare facilities are frontrunners in our community: • The Regional Academic Health Center Clinical Research Unit • University of Texas Health Science Center • Valley Baptist Medical Center • Harlingen Medical Center • Su Clinica Familiar • Ronald McDonald House • The School of Medicine for the new UTRGV • The Medical Technology Division of TSTC “Does your idea of sleeping in comfort include a hotel stay? Two new options – Residence Inn by Marriott and Candlewood Suites – have added to the accommodations available for visitors and tourists. Discussions are underway for the construction of a new hotel and convention center. Rest assured we’ve got you covered.”

Photo Courtesy of: United Launch

A Perfect Place to Launch a Career Harlingen offered job creation incentives to Space Exploration Technologies, commonly known as SpaceX, as it builds a rocket launch site along the Gulf of Mexico, the city facilitated negotiations to extend the lease for United Launch Alliance, a major defense contractor that also creates rockets for NASA. The International Bridge at Los Indios, approximately 10 miles south of Harlingen, connects Mexico to the Harlingen Industrial Park. The cities of Harlingen, Brownsville and Matamoros are organizing a Bi-National Economic Development Zone to streamline business expansion. Officials also are planning a new four-lane highway from I-69E in the Harlingen area to a second causeway at South Padre Island. The city and the Harlingen Economic Development Corporation recently purchased the nine-story Baxter Building, and private investors will complete the restoration project. Community service organizations, businesses and individuals contribute materials and manpower to Keep Harlingen Beautiful. The city ranked first in the 2015 Governor’s Community Achievement Award competition.

We believe only two kinds of people ever leave Harlingen – those who will return time and time again, and those who wish they could!

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


Welcome Home!

For over two decades the Development Corporation of Harlingen, Inc. (Harlingen EDC) has played a key role in Harlingen by promoting job growth and private investment. As a separate but closely-connected part of the City of Harlingen, the Harlingen EDC consistently boasts about Harlingen’s location and accessibility to markets, our young talented workforce, our affordability, our pro-business environment, and our quality of place as factors that have made this community stand out above all others. Harlingen’s location and accessibility to markets is one of several factors helping businesses realize that this is a great place to call home. We are at the crossroads of two Interstate highways, I-2 and I-69E. Valley International Airport (VIA) is the region’s largest airport with the longest runways. The Harlingen Aerotropolis at Valley International Airport was recently designated as a Certified Site by McCallum Sweeney Consultants, a leading site selection and economic development consulting firm. The Harlingen Aerotropolis consists of approximately 480 acres of shovel-ready land. Whether one is coming or going for business or pleasure, Harlingen has everything to keep you well-connected. Employers will find that the region has a quality workforce. The bulk of the vocational training beyond high school is taught at Texas State Technical College. The Harlingen campus is the largest of the TSTC schools with about 5,000 students. Each year, hundreds of graduates find employment in fields such as electrical and mechanical engineering, welding, CNC operations, and wind turbine maintenance. The University Center at TSTC is also home to satellite campuses for six universities offering graduate and post-graduate programs via local and hybrid-learning technology. The most attractive factor to the college, employers, and students alike is the fact that all major points in the RGV are within a forty-five minute drive of Harlingen. Finally, the Council for Community and Economic Research recently ranked Harlingen as the most affordable city in America. This marked the fifth year in a row that we win that honor. Whether you are looking for a new place to live or a new place for your business, come home… to Harlingen.

We are also home to national firms such as Cardone Industries, United Launch Alliance, United Healthcare Services, Qualfon, Dish Network, Valley International Cold Storage, Sanders Chemicals, and retailers such as Sam’s Club, Burlington Coat Factory, Dillard’s, and Forever 21. Harlingen is 30 miles away from our tropical getaway: South Padre Island. It is also close to exciting hunting excursions, birding trails, nature sanctuaries, and the world-famous Iwo Jima Memorial. The fine arts, music festivals, car shows, and much more add to the quality of place that is Harlingen. Experience the excitement and come home to Harlingen!


When it comes to businesses, Harlingen ranks at the top. Our healthcare industry employs nearly 25% of our workforce. Harlingen is home to the only Bass Pro Shops in South Texas. Photo Courtesy of: MPC Studios

Photos & Story Courtesy of: Harlingen EDC Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


Harlingen Medical Center - The Community’s Choice For affording high-quality medical care and creating positive, memorable experiences for patients in South Texas, Harlingen Medical Center (HMC), is the reigning “BEST HOSPITAL” as recognized by The Valley Morning Star Reader’s Choice Award. Harlingen Medical Center is a nationally recognized and award-winning hospital for clinical excellence and for improving the patient experience! We are dedicated to providing innovative, quality patient care, close to home. Utilizing state-of-the-art equipment, advanced technology along with evidence based practices; we ensure patients receive the highest quality and most sophisticated care possible. Our mission is to provide comprehensive, quality healthcare in a convenient, compassionate, and cost-effective manner. Whether you are undergoing a routine diagnostic test or being treated for cardiovascular disease, our Board Certified physicians, nurses and support staff, are committed to incorporating the latest techniques and treatments, so that you may receive the very best in health care. Our values include: • Compassion • Quality • Comprehensive (healthcare delivery system) • Cost Effectiveness

Services at a Glance • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Bariatric (Surgical Weight Loss) Cardiology Critical Care / ICU Emergency Room (Advanced Level IV) Trauma Center Endoscopy Gastroenterology Internal Medicine Nephrology Neurology Obstetric & Gynecology Operating Room (Surgical Services) Orthopedic Pediatric Radiology / Imaging Respiratory Sleep Study Speech Pathology Thoracic Surgery Vascular & Endovascular Surgery Wellness Screenings Wound Healing

Harlingen Medical Center also features: • All Inpatient Private Suites • Comprehensive Clinical Services • 24-Hour Emergency Room

At Harlingen Medical Center we put our patients first. The concept of “patient-focused care” is fundamental in our daily operation. The design, management, staffing and operation of the hospital are all focused on the patient’s perspective, needs and overall comfort. Harlingen Medical Center is more than a hospital. It is a place where people come to heal. It is a part of the community that fosters health and represents hope. Our dedicated physicians, nurses and support staff provide not only treatment, but comfort and compassion. They make the difference in healthcare and are the reason people choose Harlingen Medical Center. We know how to care for you, and your family, with the kind of compassionate, quality and effective care you deserve. Photos & Story Courtesy of: HMC

Harlingen Medical Center is located at 5501 South Expressway 77, in Harlingen, Texas. To learn more about the award-winning and nationally recognized hospital and its services and programs, log on to, or, or contact the Department of Marketing and Business Development at (956) 365-1848. Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015




School Name Action Career Training II Allied Skills Training Center Careers Unlimited, LLC DATS/Rio Grande Valley General Educational Services of Texas, LLC International Culinary Institute Sugar LLC Inter-Tech Technical School J and R Training Center LHCT Training Center McAllen Careers Institute The New Start School RGV Careers An Institute for Higher Learning South Texas Nursing Academy South Texas School of Bartending South Texas Training Center South Texas Training Center South Texas Vocational Technical Institute South Texas Vocational Technical Institute South Texas Vocational Technical Institute Southern Careers Institute, Inc. - Brownsville Southern Careers Institute, Inc. - Harlingen Southern Careers Institute-South Texas, Inc. Southwest School of Business and Technical Careers-South Texas Valley Baptist Medical Center School of Vocational Nursing Valley Grande Institute for Academic Studies Valley Grande Institute for Academic Studies

Kaplan College – McAllen Campus 1500 S Jackson Rd, McAllen, TX 78503 (956) 630-1499 Kaplan College – Brownsville Campus 1900 North Expressway, Suite O Brownsville, TX 78521 (956) 547.8200 Texas Southmost College 80 Fort Brown, Brownsville, TX 78520 Admissions & Records (956) 295-3615

The University of Texas - RGV - Brownsville Campus One West University Blvd. Brownsville, Texas 78520 The University of Texas - RGV - Edinburg Campus 1201 West University Dr. Edinburg, Texas 78539-2999

For questions about attending UTRGV, please contact or (888) 882-4026

Texas State Technical College-Harlingen 1902 North Loop 499, Harlingen, TX 78550-3697 (956) 364-4000 South Texas College P.O. Box 9701, McAllen, TX 78502-9701 (956) 872-8311

Bachelor's Master's Doctoral Bachelor of Applied Technology Associate's Certificate 1 Certificate 2 Adv. Tech Certificate ECS Completer Core Completer FOS Completer

Phone (956) 782-6800 (956) 548-2100 (956) 215-1293 (956) 428-5322 (956) 541-7363 (956) 787-1221 (956) 554-9664 (956) 230-5669 (956) 782-0070 (956) 618-5800 (956) 682-5695 (956) 781-6800 (956) 781-6100 (956) 492-8356 (956) 782-7100 (956) 399-9698 (956) 631-1107 (956) 969-1564 (956) 554-3515 (956) 550-9962 (956) 428-4999 (956) 632-2700

3900 North 23rd Street , McAllen, TX 78501

(956) 687-7007

2110 Benwood Drive, Harlingen, TX 78550 345 South Texas Boulevard, Weslaco, TX 78596 700 FM 3168 Suite 4, Raymondville, TX 78580

(956) 389-1721 (956) 973-1945 (956) 689-1862

Source: Texas Workforce Commission, Directory of Licensed Career Schools and Colleges.

Source: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

2014 Fall Enrollment Degree/Certificate Awarded Fiscal Year 2012

Address 1403 West Ferguson, Pharr, TX 78577 2045 Les Mauldin, Suite B, Brownsville, TX 78521 806 West Expressway 83, Suite C, Mission, TX 78572 1214 Dixieland Road, Suite 4, Harlingen, TX 78552 1400 Palm Boulevard, Suite 9, Brownsville, TX 78520 800 West Sam Houston Boulevard, Pharr, TX 78577 1521 Galveston Avenue, McAllen, TX 78577 1514 S.77 Sunshine Strip, Suite 15, Harlingen, TX 78550 328 East Frontage Road, Alamo, TX 78516 304 S. Col. Rowe Boulevard (2nd Street), McAllen, TX 78501 709 North Main, McAllen, TX 78501 1200 West Polk Avenue, Suites P & Q, Pharr, TX 78577 200 East Expressway 83, Suite J-1, Pharr, TX 78577 421 South International Boulevard, Weslaco, TX 78596 213 East Ferguson Street, Pharr, TX 78577 1901 West Highway 77, San Benito, TX 78586 2400 West Daffodil Avenue, McAllen, TX 78501 2419 East Haggar Avenue, Weslaco, TX 78596 2144 Central Boulevard, Brownsville, TX 78520 935 North Expressway, Brownsville, TX 78523 1122 Morgan, Harlingen, TX 78550 1500 North Jackson Road, Pharr, TX 78577

South Texas College

Texas Southmost College

Texas State Technical College

University of Texas Pan American

University of Texas at Brownsville

Kaplan College Brownsville

Kaplan College McAllen








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n/a n/a n/a 0 509 61 42 0 0 237 0

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Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


TSTC Celebrates 50 Years Texas State Technical College celebrated 50 years of serving the state as the technical college of Texas on April 22, 2015 in Austin during an event hosted by The TSTC Foundation. Nearly 700 supporters of TSTC that included current and former students, civic and educational leaders, state elected officials, employers and private citizens attended the celebration raising $300,000 for the Foundation. “Our founders had vision,” TSTC Chancellor Michael Reeser said. “In Texas, we have a wide array of colleges and universities already and we saw a need to diversify. Our economy needs diversity and TSTC does that by providing a skilled workforce in high-tech and high-demand jobs. For the past half century, we’ve been providing this for Texas and for the next 50 years we’ll be doing it bigger, better and faster than before.” Governor Greg Abbott delivered the keynote address and praised TSTC for its continued commitment to providing a skilled workforce to Texas, that in turn contributes to the economic development of the state. Abbott recounted a trip to Schertz to visit the Amazon Fulfillment Center, where he took a tour of the plant with one of the company’s executives. “That executive said we have the best workforce in America,” Abbott said. “We need to continue to support TSTC to make sure it continues to provide that skilled workforce for the state. As governor, I will be that visionary leader that looks into what we can do over the next 50 years for TSTC.” Abbott also praised TSTC for its focus on training and preparing the country’s military veterans to join the workforce. “One of our shortcomings in this country is that we’re not doing an adequate job of hiring veterans,” Abbott said. “TSTC focuses on recruiting veterans and I implore all the employers here to hire a vet.” TSTC Board of Regents Chair Ellis M. Skinner II said TSTC was now a major player in the higher education system in Texas. “I’ve been to other events for other colleges and this far exceeds any of those,” Skinner said. “What this says to the state of Texas is that we’re very serious about supplying the

state with the workforce it needs for companies and firms to come do business in Texas.” TSTC was established in 1965 on the former James Connally Air Force Base in Waco as James Connally Technical Institute of Texas A&M. In 1967, the Connally Technical Institute expanded to Harlingen moving into the old Harlingen Air Force Base. In 1969, the college separated from Texas A&M and became an independent state system with a new name, Texas State Technical Institute (TSTI) and its own Board of Regents. Additional campuses were created in 1970 in Amarillo in the Panhandle of Texas and in Sweetwater in West Texas As the demand for quality technical education continued to grow, extension centers were established in McAllen (1983), Abilene (1985), Breckenridge (1989), Brownwood (1991) and Marshall (1991). TSTI was renamed Texas State Technical College in 1991 and the TSTC campus in Marshall began serving the needs of East Texas. In 1999, the Marshall extension center was officially designated a stand-alone campus by the Texas Legislature, and it became known as Texas State Technical College Marshall. In 2001, the Fort Bend campus opened its doors. In 2011, the Legislature redefined the TSTC West Texas campus as one that serves West Texas with four strategically positioned, permanent locations at Sweetwater, Abilene, Breckenridge and Brownwood. That same year, the Ingleside campus opened. In 2013, the Texas Legislature authorized the creation of a Marshall extension center in Ellis County creating TSTC Marshall North Texas Extension Center also known as TSTC North Texas. The East Williamson County campus also opened in 2013.

Above: Governor Greg Abbott Below: Harlingen Mayor Boswell & Chancellor Reeser

Among the advancements TSTC has made recently is the move to integrate all 11 campuses in order to pursue single accreditation and align programs to better serve the state. As of the end of 2014, 100,013 students have graduated from the 11 campuses statewide. Story by: Eladio Jaimez Photos Courtesy of: TSTC Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


History is made: Harlingen CISD opens Harlingen School of Health Professions facility to future medical leaders Marking the beginnings of medical careers, the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District (HCISD) opened the Harlingen School of Health Professions (HSHP) facility this past December. Dressed for the historical occasion, students filed in for their first day on the new campus with excitement and discovery. The new facility features state-of-the-art rooms and labs where students will have the opportunity to apply knowledge and procedures that they’ve learned in class. “I’m very excited about the hands-on equipment,” said Angelica Montes eighth grade student. “I look forward to using the surgical lab and the patient care room. Also, I look forward to getting to work in my field of study – surgery. I want to be an anesthesiologist.” Jacob Harms, who hopes to one day become an endodontist, is most excited about the wealth of resources available to him at the new facility. “We have every piece of equipment that we could possibly need here at our disposal; from the chairs to the little things such as toothbrushes, said Harms. “We also have many computers at our disposal and an excellent library, as well as, knowledgeable teachers that we can use as resources for information.” The college-like atmosphere throughout the facility will foster the collaborative style of learning, which will prepare students for a post-secondary education in the medical field. Along with

furthering their medical education, students will be able to choose one of six areas of study in their sophomore year to focus on throughout their high school career. Schools of Study include: The School of Pharmacology/Biomedical Technology, The School of Dental Science, The School of Patient Care, The School of Medical Science Research, The School of Sports Medicine, and The School of Surgical Procedures. Students will also have the privilege to work with local medical professionals to observe real-life medical practices. “The opening of the Harlingen School of Health Professions facility marks yet another milestone in our transformational journey as it opens up countless opportunities for our students to get a head start in a career in medicine and the medical school process,” said Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos. “I want to thank the Board of Trustees for their commitment to excellence and their commitment to choice within public schools. By advancing our schools our students remain on the path to global achievement.” At HSHP it is essential that students have opportunities for collaboration, as much of the design and curriculum of the school is based on project-based learning. Classrooms will enhance their medically focused curriculum with a design aimed at exposing students to the different medical areas so they can see what’s being learned in the class and how it’s incorporated into that field. Solidifying its opening, a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony was held on Dec. 17. Over 400 members of the community including Senator Eddie Lucio, Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell and Valley Baptist Health System President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Manny Vela were present to celebrate the event. With the support of the community apparent, it was a memorable day for all as it marked the collaboration that took place to between the district and community members.


Story by: Adriana Dominguez Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

Photos Courtesy of: HCISD

“What happens here changes public education and expands the educational opportunities that we can afford our students,” said Board President Greg Powers. “It took a collaborative effort of many individuals to achieve what you see here today. We want to thank those members of our community who volunteered their countless hours to participating in design meetings to bring this vision to a reality.” The inaugural year of HSHP marks the beginning of a new world of possibilities for Harlingen students. During its initial year, the legacy class is comprised of eighth and ninth grade students with the campus designed to add an additional grade level each year until 12th grade is reached with a maximum enrollment of 550 students. The design allows students to be able to continue their enrollment from eighth grade to the completion of their senior year. To enroll in the campus, students had to be accepted through an application-based process. The campus curriculum and mission aligns with the district’s strategic plan. Created through a collaboration between district officials and over 800 Harlingen community members, the plan’s main themes include developing learning environments conducive for collaboration; creating curriculum to fit the individual needs of students; opening specialized and unique schools for students at all levels of education; and to align high school programs with post-secondary endorsements and certification programs for college and career readiness. HCISD Board of Trustees adopted the plan during their regular February 2014 meeting. For more information on HSHP, please visit or call 430-4078. To find out about HCISD’s additional Schools of Choice, visit or call 430-9500.

HCISD Schools of Choice now accepting students across the Rio Grande Valley Keeping inline with its mission to provide all students with access to world-class schools, the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District Board of Trustees approved to open its application/enrollment process for its Schools of Choice (Early College High School, Harlingen School of Health Professions and KEYS Academy) to students across the Rio Grande Valley. Approved during the Trustees regular meeting in March, students will now be able to apply for these innovative campuses, regardless of designated school district. For non-resident students, they may attend these campuses after participating in the campus’ application process, if applicable, and meeting the exceptional standards required in academics, attendance, and behavior. “Our Schools of Choice offer students a unique learning experience and the opportunity to further their chances for global success after receiving their high school diploma,” said Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos. “That opportunity is now

available for students across the Rio Grande Valley as they now have the chance to apply for acceptance to our Harlingen School of Health Professions, Early College High School or KEYS Academy. With the offerings provided by each campus, there is no doubt that each student will find something to meet their needs and goals. We encourage students who are interested in attending to contact their prospective campus and learn more about how they can engaged in a transformational learning experience.” HCISD’s Schools of Choice offer students the unique opportunity to obtain their high school diploma while participating in additional educational offerings. These offerings include an accelerated start toward receiving college hours at Texas State Technical College (TSTC) through attending ECHS, a medically focused curriculum and opportunities to work with medical professionals at HSHP or access to expedited credit accumulation programs at KEYS Academy. Currently, ECHS serves students from 9th – 12th grade, HSHP serves 8th – 10th grade with plans to add an additional grade level until 12th is reached, and KEYS enrolls students from 9th – 12th grade. The policy is an addition to the FDA (Local) exemptions adopted by the Board of Trustees, which allows any employee of a business within HCISD’s boundaries or any property owner with in the boundaries may send their child to HCISD schools.

The policy also allows any student who has attended any school, public or private, within the district’s boundaries, to attend HCISD schools. “Our mission is to offer all students the best education possible, and now we can say that all students, regardless of location, will have the chance to experience the world-class Schools of Choice at HCISD,” said Board President Greg Powers. “Our Schools of Choice offer students a head start to a college education, medical career or high school diploma and we encourage all those interested to apply. This is a great moment for our district and we look forward to seeing the positive impact it will have on students across the Rio Grande Valley.” For more information on how to apply for HCISD’s Schools of Choice or enroll, please call the prospective campus or visit For more information on HCISD’s FDA Local policy, please visit Story by: Maritza Gallaga

Photos Courtesy of: HCISD

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


ULA Harlingen For more than 25 years, the nation’s premier

launch company United Launch Alliance (ULA) and its predecessor Lockheed Martin, has

manufactured components of its Atlas V rocket

in Harlingen.

Since ULA’s inception in 2006, ULA has launched more than 95 missions with 100 percent mission success that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation and unlock the mysteries of our solar system. “ULA has enjoyed a strong relationship with the city and is pleased to be a member of the Harlingen community,” said Tim Piller, ULA site lead at Harlingen. “This is a wonderful city to conduct business.” The ULA facility is housed in a 320,000-plus square-foot building leased from the airport. The team consists of more than 150 employees, with the majority of the employees from Harlingen. Employees also are from other parts of the Valley including La Joya, Raymondville, Brownsville and Edcouch-Elsa. The Atlas V rocket has launched more than 50 missions including national defense payloads and multiple science missions for NASA including the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Mars rover Curiosity. Highly skilled technicians in Harlingen fabricate the 4-meter metallic payload fairings, which surround and protect the satellite through launch on its way to space, as well as numerous other structural parts of the rocket.

“These critical components are extremely complex structures and take an incredible team of dedicated employees with a focus on precision and mission success to ensure all of the hardware is manufactured to the exacting detail that is required for these important missions,” said Piller. The work ULA performs has strong impact on the economy, as well as the community, with more than 150 suppliers receiving more than $71 million in contracts throughout the state. “It is important for ULA to contribute to the community in which we live and work,” said Piller. “We have partnered with Texas State Technical College and local school districts through our Science Technology Engineering & Math (STEM) outreach programs to work with the next generation to get them interested in pursuing careers working with rockets.” ULA recently signed a five-year lease extension and will continue to manufacture Atlas V rocket hardware for our nation’s launches. Photos & Story Courtesy of: United Launch Alliance Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


Bright future ahead for City of San Benito

San Benito’s physical location may be its greatest asset. Perched at the center of Cameron County, the City’s future is bright indeed.

What’s in store for San Benito? Consider the region. Its geographic positioning, and its unique set of unfolding circumstances, call for a progressive strategy in meeting its future development. With the dynamic news of SpaceX at Boca Chica Beach and the formation of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley along with the consolidation of the Regional Academic Health Center, the entire Rio Grande Valley in fact, will be transformed into an explosive, progressive and attractive destination for high-tech growth and development. These facilities will certainly impact this community, area officials say.

With UTRGV campuses scheduled in several Valley cities from McAllen to Brownsville, and SpaceX preparing to launch rockets into space, the outlook for creation of good paying jobs, enhanced academics, improved medical facilities and an overall enriched quality of life will be realized here.

US Rep. Filemon Vela said the SpaceX launch facility will greatly benefit the South Texas economy, creating jobs and putting capital investment into the local economy. Along with impacting the economy, this move will provide unique educational opportunities for students, scientists, and researchers.

South Texas’ region’s population is growing faster than the State of Texas, spilling out into what was previously rural communities. Within a five-mile radius of San Benito, the population is currently 55,596, within a 10-mile radius, it increases to 158,424, and within 15 miles it escalates to 414,689.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, reports that UTRGV will open in Fall 2015 and the UTRGV Medical School in Fall 2016. The Valley has become one of the most dynamic region of Texas, where untapped potential meets true grit and a thirst for knowledge – a perfect setting for a new, vibrant university to serve not only those who call the Rio Grande Valley home, but also those who will seek out UTRGV for the matchless experience and opportunity it will provide, area officials have said.

San Benito is in the right place at the right time.

The City is poised for anticipated growth in commerce, tourism and trade. With a county population of 406,220 in 2010, it is projected that by 2020, the population numbers will increase to 539,000; in 2030 to 640,300 and in 2040, to 729,700. San Benito is located eight miles from the (NAFTA) Free Trade International Bridge at Los Indios to Mexico, which provides convenient access to industrial centers. Some 53 miles of the former U.S. Highway 77, from Raymondville to Brownsville, will be converted into Interstate 69 East. Fourteen miles of U.S. Highway 281 is now Interstate 69 Central, from Edinburg to Pharr. The two highways will be connected by Interstate 2, formerly U.S. Highway 83. And, ultimately, I-69 will be a 1,600-mile highway, stretching from Texas to Michigan. Officials believe importing Mexican produce for processing in the US is expected to increase substantially over the next decade with the opening of a new transportation corridor between Mazatlán–Durango-Monterrey-Reynosa.

The State Comptroller’s office believes the South Texas region’s economic outlook is excellent, saying South Texas has a young and rapidly growing population to grasp those opportunities through international trade, future businesses, and tourism. San Benito stands to be among the leading communities to benefit from planned, progressive development.

For more information, please contact City Manager Manuel Lara at 956-361-3800.

Photos & Story Courtesy of: City of San Benito Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


Industrial Parks & Business Parks MCALLEN • Warehouse Kingdom • Central de Abastos • Tanya Industrial Park • Botello Industrial Park • McAllen Foreign Trade Zone • McAllen Southwest Industrial Area o Available Industrial Land in North McAllen SHARYLAND PLANTATION

Contact: Hunt Valley Development

• Sharyland Business Park o Available Industrial Land REYNOSA • American Industries • Colonial • CPA – Rio Bravo • Del Norte • El Puente • Maquilpark • Moll Industrial Zone • Pharr Bridge • ProLogis Pharr Bridge • Reynosa Industrial Center • Reynosa Industrial Park • Ridge Commerce • Stiva Alcala • Verde Pharr Bridge • Villa Florida PHARR • Capote Industrial Park • Monarch Industrial Park • Pharr Industrial Park • Keystone Industrial Park • Pharr Produce District

EDINBURG • Edinburg North Industrial Park • Edinburg International Airport • Owassa Business Park • Renaissance Industrial Park DONNA • Alliance River Crossing - Industrial Park • Donna Industrial Park HARLINGEN • Port of Harlingen • Harlingen Industrial Park • Harlingen Aerotropolis SAN BENITO • San Benito Industrial Park MERCEDES • Mercedes Business Park WESLACO • Mid-Valley Industrial Park HIDALGO • Tres Puentas Industrial Park WILLACY COUNTY • Raymondville Industrial Park STARR COUNTY • Starr County Industrial Park Unless otherwise indicated, contact the local EDC for each area. See list on page 8.

BROWNSVILLE 1. Airport Industrial Park 2. 14th Street Industrial Zone 3. 802 Industrial Zone 4. Victoria Lake Industrial Park 5. NAFTA Industrial Park 6. North Brownsville Industrial Park 7. 350 acre development ready site 8. Sidee Planned Industrial Park 9. GEOTRAC Industrial Park

MATAMOROS 1. FINSA de Norte Industrial Park 2. Cylsa Industrial Park 3. Del Lago Industrial Park 4. DIMA Industrial Park 5. FINSA Oriente Industrial Park 6. Alianza Industrial Park 7. Los Palmares Industrial Park 8. Las Ventanas Industrial Park 9. FINSA Poniente Industrial Park Map provided by: Brownsville Economic Development Council Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


Cameron County International Bridge System Automated Vehicle Identification (AVI) Program The Cameron County International Bridge System offers customers the opportunity to use its AVI program as an alternative to cash transactions at the toll booth area. With this program patrons never need to worry about having correct change on hand in order to cross into Mexico. Both commercial and non-commercial customers can benefit from the added security and accountability that our services provide. Established account holders can access statements, balances, and tag/vehicle information 24 hours a day by logging on to the toll system website, Once an account is established, customers can prepay tolls and use all three of the Cameron County Bridges. Prepayment amounts are customized for each account holder and can be adjusted. Setting up an account is quick and the enrollment process is fairly simple. Account name, contact information, vehicle details, and a predetermined payment are required to set up an account.

Photos & Story Courtesy of: Cameron County International Bridges

For more information, please come by our main office at the Veterans International Bridge. 3310 South Expressway 77 Brownsville, TX 78521 956.574.8771

West Rail Bridge The West Rail Bridge is the first new railway bridge built across the Texas-Mexico border in over 100 years. After more than a decade of planning and construction, the project will finally be completed in August 2015. The new international rail passage was designed to help alleviate the congestion caused by the current rail line between downtown Brownsville and Matamoros. The rail relocation itself starts north of Brownsville in Olmito, travels west, and then eventually south into Mexico, miles away from downtown traffic and pedestrians. It is approximately 15 river miles up the Rio Grande from the B&M International Bridge, and is located off of Highway 281 near the River Bend Resort area. Union Pacific will own and manage the new rail line. However, the City and County will benefit from the potential development of an eight-mile stretch of property (within the city) left vacant due to the removal of the rail.

increases and populations on both sides of the border grow, the relocation of the rail passage will ease traffic issues which in turn will support economic growth for the region. “This project originally started as a quality of life and safety project and has since evolved into an economic development and redevelopment project”, stated County Judge Pete Sepulveda, Jr. “This project will not only alleviate congestion but will also contribute to providing a new connection and an alternative for the traveling public which was once an impediment for growth and prosperity in the downtown Brownsville area”.

According to the Border Trade Alliance, about 6 percent of goods transported across the southern border of the United States are transported through rail ways. Over the past few years trade has increased steadily between the United States and Mexico despite economic downturn due to increased violence. As trade Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


PORTAL TO THE GLOBAL ECONOMY Opened in 1936, the Port of Brownsville is the only deepwater port located at the southernmost tip of Texas at the westernmost terminus of a 17 mile (27 Kilometers) channel that flows into the Gulf of Mexico at the Brazos Santiago Pass. The City of Brownsville is two miles (3.3 kilometers) to the southwest, and lies adjacent to the Rio Grande River and provides a convenient gateway to Mexico. It is a major center for intermodal transportation and industrial development. The Port is in the business of facilitating the movement of cargo world-wide by offering vessel, barge, rail, truck and pipeline transportation. The Port offers excellent development opportunities with 40,000+/- acres of

land. Infrastructure includes 12 cargo docks, 5 liquid cargo docks, 650,000

square feet of covered storage and 2.85 million square feet of laydown and/or

open storage. At the Port of Brownsville, we are continuously working on

improving for our future by providing adequate facilities for cargo loading and off-loading. We continue to pursue opportunities for deepening the ship

channel and expanding our break bulk and liquid cargo handling capabilities. As a bulk commodity port, the Port of Brownsville has developed a versatile

marine terminal operation for both liquid and dry bulk cargo. Petroleum

products, gasoline, diesel, steel bulk materials, ores, scrap, sand, windmill components, limestone and heavy naphtha are some of the many

commodities handled at the Port. The Port offers excellent services to

facilitate the international movement of goods between Mexico and the United

States. The land transportation system of Mexico is linked with the world via

ocean going vessels arriving and departing at the Port of Brownsville and via

barge to the Gulf Intercoastal Waterway and the Inland Waterway System of

the United States via the Brownsville Ship Channel. Port

services include construction and refurbishing of offshore

deep-water seaport and Gulf Intercoastal waterway

access for full-service freight connectivity nationally and

drilling rigs, container service, bulk terminaling for liquids,


cargo, steel fabrication, grain handling and storage, crane

The Port of Brownsville is Grantee and Operator of

ship dismantling/recycling, break-bulk/heavy lift/project

services, and towing & tug services.

The Brownsville & Rio Grande International Railway (BRG) has provided Port customers efficient and reliable

railroad service since 1984. In August 2014, OmniTRAX

Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) #62. While at the FTZ, foreign or

a new liquid cargo dock and progress on deepening the

Brownsville Ship Channel to 52’.

We have also seen the arrival of the US Navy’s air craft carriers to the Port of Brownsville. These vessels are

obsolete and no longer in use and must be disposed of.

domestic merchandise can be stored, assembled, tested

These Vietnam era air craft carriers include the ex-Forrestal,

being paid. The Port’s FTZ #62 is one of the leading

disposal of these vessels in the Port’s recycling facilities

or otherwise manipulated or destroyed without duties

ex-Saratoga, ex-Constellation and the ex-Ranger. The

Foreign Trade Zones in the Nation having ranked number

have resulted in hundreds of new jobs and significant

24/6 operations with qualified personnel and extensive

countries in 2012 and 2013. The Port exported commodities

emerging as a strategic location for US LNG export

demands as needed and interconnects with Union Pacific

were petroleum products, metals, and steel. The 2013

resources of the Eagle Ford Shale, availability of land and

began management of operations of the railroad offering

fleet of locomotives. BRG is ready to meet its customers’

Railroad (UP) and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad

(BNSF) for northbound cargo, and with Kansas City

Southern De Mexico (KCSM) for southbound cargo.

1 in the Top 25 Foreign Trade Zone exports to foreign

valued over three billion dollars. Top commodities moved 75th Annual FTZ report can be accessed through the

The economic importance of the Port of Brownsville on

create thousands of temporary construction jobs and

industrial hub consisting of 1,200 acres. The GEOTRAC

clude the construction of a new general cargo dock,

master-planned industrial park sites with easy access to

heavy-haul/overweight highway system, rail services,

access to a deepwater ship channel make the Port a good

location for this type of development. Currently, three (3)

the region supports thousands of jobs and millions of

Industrial Hub at the Port of Brownsville will offer

projects. The Port’s proximity to the large natural gas

NAFTZ Association and the FTZ Board (

In addition to the management of operation of the BRG, OmniTRAX and the Port are collaborating to develop an

capital investment. Lastly, the Port of Brownsville is

dollars in direct business revenue. Our newest projects in-

purchase of a new multi-million dollar mobile harbor

crane, expansion of liquid cargo terminal operations,

expanded rail services, development and construction of

projects are seeking federal dollar investments that would

hundreds of permanent high-paying jobs once complete.

If successful, these project would commence construction in 2017 and begin to export liquid natural gas in 2020. For additional information, visit: Photos & Story Courtesy of: Port of Brownsville

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


GEOTRAC Industrial Hub -- Where Rail, Deep Seaport, Highways and Proximity to Mexico Converge to Deliver Global Opportunities GEOTRAC Industrial Hub in Brownsville, Texas features a comprehensive transport system that includes an easy-to-do-business-with rail company, a first class port with direct ocean access and extensive real estate development options, combining to provide companies the best of all possible locations to site new facilities. The development, America’s southern-most master-planned industrial park, is the result of a long-term strategic relationship between the Port of Brownsville and OmniTRAX, an affiliate of Denver-based The Broe Group. GEOTRAC offers waterfront tracts for heavy-sea use customers like the makers of liquid or bulk products, as well as distributors of commodities. The development also features many tracts of land dedicated to the steel and metals industry, located just north of the Port, and there’s an incubator site with full logistics and transloading capability provided by affiliate OmniTRAX Logistics Services for smaller, growing companies. Facilities in the GEOTRAC Industrial Hub are served by the Brownsville & Rio Grande International Railway (BRG Railway), an OmniTRAX affiliate that operates 45 miles of track. Safety is always the top priority at the railway, which has been recognized nationally by the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Associations. The BRG Railway connects shippers and the Port to three Class I railroads - Union Pacific, BNSF and Kansas City Southern de Mexico for access into Mexico. This provides customers with the benefit of competitive rates and service packages.

GEOTRAC is located less than eight miles from the United States/Mexico border, with easy highway, overweight truck, and port access, plus the Port of Brownsville has been the #1 U. S. Foreign Trade Zone since 2012. OmniTRAX CEO Kevin Shuba is excited about GEOTRAC because of the favorable business environment and the proximity to Mexico and the Gulf. “The economy of the Brownsville region is vibrant and the work force is young and growing. These factors, taken with the area’s modern infrastructure, supportive government bodies and our experienced team of industrial development experts, translates into a winning hand for companies moving to or expanding in the area,” he confirms.

The city of Brownsville is experiencing a dramatic resurgence. “Brownsville is truly unique in South Texas. We can handle heavy manufacturing, we have a deep water port and the GEOTRAC Industrial Hub, there’s access to the overweight corridor, our environmental attainment status is first class and the area has a highly skilled workforce,” states Jason Hilts, President & CEO of the Brownsville Economic Development Commission. As one of North America’s largest private railroad and transportation management companies, OmniTRAX's core capabilities range from providing management services to railroads and ports, to intermodal and industrial switching operations. OmniTRAX

affiliates operate 20 short-line railroads in the United States and Canada as well as the Port of Churchill in Manitoba, Canada, servicing some of the world’s largest companies, including Cargill, Vestas, Owens-Illinois, Halliburton, Schlumberger, U.S. Silica, Anhueser Busch, Agrium, Musket, BP, Conoco Phillips, CMC Steel, Goodyear Tire and Rubber, Procter & Gamble, Tyson Foods and Fairmount Minerals.

For more information, visit or call Alan Simon at 303.398.0500. Photos & Story Courtesy of: GEOTRAC

Pat Broe, founder and CEO of The Broe Group, adds, “The timing is perfect to be in Brownsville due to the strengthening U.S. and Mexican economies, cross-border supply chain opportunities involving automobile manufacturing in Mexico and projects related to the energy industry.”

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


Houston-based Annova LNG, LLC has filed preliminary paperwork with the Federal

Energy Regulatory Commission to explore the potential development of a mid-scale

natural gas liquefaction and transfer facility at the Port of Brownsville, Texas. Exelon

Generation is the majority owner of Annova LNG, LLC.

The project is contingent upon Annova successfully obtaining all necessary local, state and federal permits; acquisition of sufficient long-term customer commitments to buy

liquefied natural gas from the facility; and broad public support of the project in South Texas.

A decision whether to build the facility is expected by the end of 2017.

If built, the LNG terminal would sit beside the Brownsville Ship Channel on 650 acres designated by the Port of Brownsville for industrial use. The proposed site is about eight miles from the Gulf of Mexico. The facility would be operational by 2020.

Annova LNG:

Economically smart. Environmentally sound.

Construction of the project would support an average of 675 on-site jobs over a four-year period, which translates to approximately $324 million in direct labor income for Texans, according to an Ernst & Young economic analysis completed in February 2015. Once operational, the facility would employ about 165 workers at an average salary of about $70,000 a year. Annova LNG’s proposed transfer facility would use natural gas that is most likely produced in Texas and arrives via a pipeline. It would safely cool the natural gas until it becomes a liquid, then load it onto secure, double-hulled ships to deliver to foreign customers. An economic impact study conducted by respected consultants at Ernst & Young estimates that the Annova LNG Brownsville Project would produce 675 jobs during the

Photos & Story Courtesy of: KGBTexas Communications

three to four-year construction phase. Once

operational, the terminal would employ up to

an LNG spill, on water or on land, the LNG would vaporize

Exelon and Annova believe the Port of Brownsville is an

165 workers at a base wage of $70,000 and it would

and begin to dissipate as soon as it is exposed to the air.

ideal location for this proposed facility. We know the Rio

support hundreds of other jobs in the Rio Grande Valley.

The project is still in the early planning stages. However,

Brownsville and the Rio Grande Valley would be part of a

the facility’s impacts on the natural habitat will be identified

revolutionary process on two counts. First, it would make

and minimized or mitigated to the extent possible. Those

the United States — and Texas, in particular — a global

are requirements of a rigorous licensing process.

energy exporter, with all the economic benefits that go with that. Second, the LNG that leaves the Port of

If the project moves forward, the

Brownsville would fuel the conversion of foreign power

Annova LNG Brownsville Project will

plants from coal to much cleaner-burning natural gas.

meet standards for public safety and

Grande Valley has a pool of skilled workers to help build and run it. To learn more about the Annova LNG Brownsville Project, please visit or follow us o Facebook at or on Twitter @AnnovaLNG.

environmental protection established Anyone who is concerned about the environment,

by numerous federal, state and local

greenhouse gases and global climate change should

authorities, including the Federal

be a champion of this project. Jobs and a positive global

Energy Regulatory Commission,

impact aren’t enough, however. Residents of the Rio

U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Army

Grande Valley want to know if this project will be safe and

Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard,

whether it could harm the local environment.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality,

Liquified natural gas won’t mix with water. As a liquid,

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department,

LNG is not flammable or explosive. In the unlikely event of

and Cameron County.

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


BROWNSVILLE’S ECONOMIC IMPACT – THE VALLEY’S LIVEWIRE The aphorism, “A rising tide raises all ships,” without doubt is interconnected with the Port of Brownsville. With a phenomenal rate of growth, Brownsville continues to outperform as our largest city!


The Brownsville Borderplex, a Key Link in the Realigned North American “Auto Alley” Texas is home to a well-established automotive manufacturing sector that has seen continued growth in the last five years thanks to the realignment of the North American “auto alley” and the resurgence of Mexico as a top manufacturer of automobiles. The Borderplex is home to Tier 1, OEMs and leading global suppliers as well as warehousing and distributing facilities for the industry. A total of 50 companies form the automotive cluster in Matamoros, and that number nearly doubles when we add the existing companies operating out of Brownsville. According to Scotiabank’s Global Auto Report from March 2014, a vehicle made in the U.S. contains on average more than $4,000 worth of Mexican-made parts. For decades, automotive manufacturing has been one of Brownsville’s top target industries and an important component of the region’s maquiladora sector found in Matamoros. “The auto parts sector encompasses 35% of all the maquiladora industry in Matamoros. Practically all the parts that create a dashboard in a vehicle are manufactured in Matamoros,” said Roberto Mattus Rivera, Executive Director for the Matamoros Maquiladoras Association (AMMAC), giving the reason why this community earns the title of “Dashboard City”. Toyoda Gosei is one of the newest additions to the area’s automotive cluster. In 2014, the Japanese company invested $8.5 million to establish their


Matamoros plant in order to strengthen its automotive rubber hose production in the U.S. Toyoda Gosei manufactures hoses for Toyota’s full-size pickup truck assembled at its San Antonio plant. Trico has called the Borderplex home since 1986. The company is a global OEM and aftermarket supplier of windshield wiper systems, assemblies, and components for the auto industry. It is also one of the top motor vehicle parts manufacturing companies in Texas with 420 employees. Trico has 8 facilities throughout North America, South American, Europe, Asia, and Australia, with two of them located in the Borderplex. The Brownsville facility is their North American manufacturing headquarters that serves both the OE and aftermarket sectors. It is also the company’s warehouse and distribution center for American, Canadian, and Mexican OE customers. The Matamoros facility is the largest windshield wiper systems and wiper blade manufacturing facility in North America. The Matamoros plant, assembles, packages, and paints for North American OE and aftermarket customers.


Paragon D&E Moves to Brownsville to be Closer to Its Clients Paragon Die and Engineering Co. has found in Brownsville that competitive edge the company was seeking to enhance the services they provide to their clients. “This acquisition fulfills a growth strategy aimed at closing shipping distances from our company in Michigan to our large customer base in the southern U.S. and Northern Mexico.” said Andrew Samrick, managing director of Paragon’s Advanced Manufacturing Division as he explained why they chose to expand their company in Brownsville. Paragon D&E, based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, designs, engineers, and manufactures highly complex tooling systems for the automotive, heavy truck, aerospace, agriculture, and oil and gas industries. They specialize in engineering and manufacturing plastic injection and compression molds. Rio Grande Paragon’s 19,000 SF facilities in Brownsville will primarily serve tool and mold repair for customers located within the region. Being in Brownsville gives Paragon D&E a competitive edge as many of their southern customers would rather service tooling equipment locally versus shipping it back to Michigan for work.

Delphi has also been manufacturing and assembling automobile components from Matamoros since the 1980’s. The company is a Tier 1 supplier of technologies for the automotive and commercial vehicle markets and operates several plants in the region. Delphi, which was formerly GM’s parts division, is one of several parts manufacturers that have shifted a significant portion of their North American production to Mexico from the U.S.

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

Photo & Story Courtesy of: BEDC

Jon Hamming, right, general Manager of Rio Grande Paragon, shows examples of molding tools to Lizzy Putegnat, BEDC’s director for Business retention and expansion, and Ankjaer Jensen, a BEDC executive Committee Board Member.

“Lengthy supply lines mean longer downtimes for customers, which makes servicing equipment particularly costly. By opening a servicing facility close to its customer base, Paragon plans to eliminate these transportation-related costs and remain more competitive,” said Samrick.


“We’re excited to continue to service our current customers and at the same time gain new customers as we see more and more opportunities developing here in the area. The company’s equipment and technology improvements have placed us at a level where we can pursue other target markets in industries like aerospace and oil & gas,” said Jon Hamming, General Manager of Rio Grande Paragon.

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (August 4, 2015) — An automotive supplier is currently setting up in a facility at the Brownsville airport industrial zone where it will generate 35 light manufacturing jobs and add to the region’s growing automotive supplier ecosystem.

Paragon’s local customers include heavy truck supplier, CK Technologies and SpaceX, among others close to the region. Paragon is already a certified supplier to SpaceX and has previously worked on bolt systems for SpaceX rocket segments. They are excited about the opportunity to continue developing that relationship through the Brownsville launch site. Rio Grande Paragon currently has 10 employees. They estimate that by the end of the year they will reach 30 employees. Paragon D&E is not the only company that has seen an expansion to Brownsville as a strategic move that gives the company a competitive edge. Suppliers are keeping an eye on Brownsville. In many cases, it’s not a matter of “if”, but rather “when.”

Ohio-based MVP Plastics to Produce Interior Parts for Automotive Industry

MVP Plastics, Inc., of Middlefield, Ohio, is installing a row of 80 to 750 ton presses at a 30,000-square-foot facility. The custom injection molder will be manufacturing components for automotive interiors.

Proximity to its customer base in Mexico, opportunity for prospective clients and a local pro-business climate helped the automotive supplier decide on the Brownsville Borderplex over other locations. About five years ago, McNair set a growth plan with a focus on customer diversification and geographic expansion to meet such demands, which he’s attained with the expansion into Brownsville.

“The MVP team is excited about locating its manufacturing operation in Brownsville and becoming part of the community and its supplier ecosystem,” said Darrell McNair, President & CEO of MVP Plastics, a certified minority automotive custom injection molder.

In addition to the automotive sector, the private company also serves the consumer, major appliance and energy sectors. MVP was founded in 2000 and has since grown its manufacturing capacity for injection and structural foam, two-shot, over, insert, and gas assist molding. Other value-add processes include hot stamping, chrome plating, and painting and assembly.

“As we evaluated cities across the State of Texas, we truly appreciated the support and assistance of the community and the economic development group, which ultimately was the deciding factor,” he added.

MVP Plastics will be manufacturing air conditioning outlets, door handles, cup holders and ash trays for its clients in Mexico. The plant is on Elca Lane, adjacent to the Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport. Photo & Story Courtesy of: BEDC

Paragon has shipped a number of pieces of equipment to the Brownsville facility since the acquisition. the facility here will primarily serve as a tool and mold repair shop for customers located within the region.

Photo Courtesy of: BEDC Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015



Entrepreneurs Visit Brownsville in Search of Business Opportunity BROWNSVILLE, Texas (August 4, 2015) — More than 30 business entrepreneurs from Latin America visited Brownsville in search of business expansion opportunities in the United States. Thirty-three entrepreneurs from Mexico, Colombia, Chile, and Venezuela participated in a week-long trade mission hosted by the Brownsville Economic Development Council. The event, hosted in late July, introduced the group to Brownsville and brought them a step closer into investing in the Borderplex. “Brownsville is a strategic market for foreign direct investment, and it is not a coincidence that this large group of entrepreneurs visited the Borderplex region in search of business opportunities. Our community is the doorway to the American market. The BEDC works to make Brownsville the ideal platform for investors to launch their ventures, regardless the industry and the size of their investment,” said Jason Hilts, President and CEO of the BEDC. This is the first time that the BEDC hosted a delegation composed of several Latin American countries at once. The participants came from numerous industries including manufacturing, food processing, technology and construction.

The trade mission is part of the BEDC’s continued efforts to attract foreign direct investment to the region. In Latin America, the BEDC focuses on emerging economies such as Colombia, Chile, and Mexico. Gilberto Salinas, BEDC’s Executive Vice Present, mentioned that part of the “pitch” to Latin American investors is Brownsville’s prime position and global competitiveness. “The Borderplex has a very well established infrastructure with interstate access, international bridges, a rail bridge, an international airport and a deep-sea port,” Salinas said, adding that Brownsville is a land of opportunity for foreign investors. The Brownsville area has received a string of accolades including No. 1 Fastest Growing MSA for Potential Student Population, No. 22 Best Cities to Start a Business, No. 9 in Job Growth for Business and Careers, No. 17 on Most Recession-Recovered Cities and No. 26 Cities on the Rise in Texas, according to Site Selection, WalletHub, NerdWallet and Forbes.

More than 30 business entrepreneurs from Latin America visited Brownsville in July in search of business expansion opportunities in the United States


Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

Port of Brownsville

Photos & Story Courtesy of: BEDC

The Brownsville EDC, contracted by the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation, is a business league which promotes the economic and industrial development of the Brownsville-Matamoros region and is dedicated to building economic prosperity in the area. The Brownsville Borderplex is one of the fastest growing areas in the state of Texas and the United States.

Above: West Rail Bridge

Below: Port of Brownsville


Cost of Living Index

Our Cost of Living Indices are based on a US average of 100. An amount below 100 means Brownsville, TX is cheaper than the US average. A Cost of Living Index above 100 means Brownsville, TX is more expensive. Overall, Brownsville, TX cost of living is 75.90. COST OF LIVING

Brownsville-Harlingen, TX

United States






















According to Sperling’s Best Places to Live/Last Quarter 2014

Why Laguna Vista?

Laguna Vista is a friendly and quiet residential community with an affordable cost-of-living and a wide range of recreational options including golf, bay and deep-sea fishing, birding, wind surfing and kiteboarding. It’s Home to the South Padre Island Golf Club an 1800-acre gated community of homes, town homes, villas and casitas, showcasing an 18-hole championship golf course. Bay front living, gated communities, safe and family-oriented neighborhoods, make Laguna Vista the perfect place to come visit and stay forever! Strategically located on Highway 100 and FM 510, before you get to Port Isabel and South Padre Island, the Town of Laguna Vista owns 23 acres on Highway 100 - prime property for commercial development.


Among the 271 urban areas that participated in the second quarter 2015 Cost of Living Index, the after-tax cost for a professional/managerial standard of living ranged from more than twice the national average in New York (Manhattan) NY to almost 20 percent below the national average in McAllen and Harlingen TX. The Cost of Living Index is published quarterly by C2ER –The Council for Community and Economic Research. C2ER report provided by: McAllen Chamber of Commerce

Least Expensive 2nd Quarter of 2015 Ranking 1 2

Urban Areas McAllen TX Harlingen TX

Index 80.1 80.7

Contact the City Manager, Rolando Vela at or at (956) 943-1793 for more information. Photos by: Steve Sinclair

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015



Port Isabel is nestled along the shoreline of the Laguna Madre Bay, in eastern Cameron County and just 2.6 miles from South Padre Island. In addition to a population of 5,017 residents, Port Isabel is also home to a thriving business community.

The downtown area boasts over 90% occupancy, plenty of free parking and a merchant network that offers a wide variety of goods and services. Restaurants, motels, specialty shops, art galleries, a lighthouse which is a state historic site, a visitor center, museums, attractions and activities are all downtown and within walking distance of the new Port Isabel Event & Cultural Center (PIECC). And with over 9,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, the PIECC offers convenience, affordability and the uniqueness that is the Port Isabel experience. The quality of life in Port Isabel includes access to the Laguna Madre Bay and the Gulf of Mexico and choices of outdoor experiences from pirate ship or dolphin cruises, fishing charters, pier fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, jet skiing, parasailing, fly fishing, bay fishing or offshore fishing, picnic in a park or just sightseeing. Year around events are popular with residents and visitors and include the Lighthouse Establishment Cinema, a summer program where movies are projected on the side of the lighthouse, market days, monthly antique and flea markets, Longest Causeway Run and Walk, World’s Championship Shrimp Cook-off, Pachanga in the Park, Christmas Lighted Boat Parade, Community Decorating Contest & Community Tree Lighting. Port Isabel is home to the longest lighted pier in Texas, the longest bridge in Texas, the only lighthouse open to the public on the Texas Gulf Coast, the Laguna Madre Bay which is the largest hypersaline bay in the world, neighbor to South Padre Island which is the longest barrier island in the world, some of the oldest history in south Texas, some of the largest flour tortillas, great service, friendly people, tasty food and biggest fish stories. As tourism is a vital part of the economy of Port Isabel, the close proximity to the beaches of South Padre Island further serve to create economic development opportunities for the creative visionary. For more information on the business opportunities in Port Isabel, please contact: Port Isabel Economic Development Corporation at (956) 943-0705 or


With revolving loan funds and other incentives, Port Isabel could be a great home to your business venture. Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

Photo & Story Courtesy of: Valerie Bates, City of Port Isabel


Post World War II Baby Boomers, born between 1945 and 1964, are entering their retirement years and their opportunities have changed! Over the next ten years, an average of 8,000 - 10,000 people each day will reach age 65. Dramatically altering today’s business and lifestyle landscape, Baby Boomers may stay in the workforce longer than their parents did, both because they may need the money and they’re not ready to leave behind fulfilling careers. Many retirees choose to “hit the road” in an RV spending additional time traveling the country once they find their new freedom. Snowbirds migrate to warmer climes from northern cities each year around the holidays. The average stay in the south for snowbirds is five months. Baby Boomers have the world at their feet. Compared to their parents' generation, they have many more retirement options. Baby Boomers are looking for active retirements that suit their individual needs and quite often travel with their mobile office.


South Padre Island is a barrier island located between the Gulf of Mexico and the Laguna Madre at the tropical tip of Texas. This gem’s beaches are consistently rated among the top in the United States from sources including Conde Nast Traveler, Trip Advisor,, Men’s Fitness, and Better Homes and Garden. Increased visitation to the ultimate vacation destination, thriving ecotourism, abundant water sports, and world class fishing are all here in this special place! The economy continues to grow and attract new business. Future developments on the horizon such as SpaceX, a second causeway, UTRGV medical school, and the nearby Port of Brownsville’s growth, make the Island the perfect location for your business. South Padre Island Economic Development Corporation 6801 Padre Blvd., South Padre Island, Texas 78597 956-761-6805 • Email: Photos & Story Courtesy of: SPI EDC

Forbes research proves older entrepreneurs are starting a greater number of companies–and in particular, are starting a greater number of high growth companies— and their companies have a significantly higher statistical chance to survive.

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


Rep. Oscar Longoria

Texas House of Representatives District 35

Congressman Rubén Hinojosa

U.S. Representative Texas Congressional District 15

“We are now witnessing one of the largest economic boons the Rio Grande Valley has ever experienced. Spurred by the creation of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, its medical school and an historic dual enrollment nursing program for students, the RGV will be one of the largest medical research communities in the nation. Added to our improved transportation and infrastructure system, including our expanding international bridges, the North American Advanced Manufacturing Research and Education Park will help lead the RGV toward a prosperous future with continued job growth and economic expansion for the families and business of South Texas.”

Congressman Henry Cuellar

U.S. Representative Texas Congressional District 28

“The Valley and the border are developing into an impressive powerhouse for international trade, business and higher education. Exceptional leadership and foresight have propelled the incredible growth and expansion of the Valley, which will greatly improve the quality of life for our community and future generations,”

Congressman Filemon Vela

U.S. Representative Texas Congressional District 34

“The Rio Grande Valley, and northern Tamaulipas, Mexico, have a combined population of about 2.5 million people – we must work together, as one region, to foster economic development on the U.S.-Mexico border through initiatives like the BiNational Economic Development Zone (BiNED). BiNED is working to bring communities together to help create innovative advanced manufacturing sectors that will transform the U.S.-Mexico border. Our region has immense potential – we must work together to channel it in the right direction. Ultimately, the only long term sustainable way to control our borders is through the creation of jobs along the U.S.-Mexico border.”


Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

Senator Chuy Hinojosa

Texas State Senator District 20

"UTRGV and the medical school will play a key role in the development of business opportunities and in the creation of new jobs."

Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr.

Texas State Senator District 27

“The future for the Rio Grande Valley has never been better! The Rio Grande Valley plays a very important role for the future of this great state. With SpaceX coming to Brownsville, UTRGV enrolling its first class this Fall, and with the new Medical School at UTRGV coming in 2016 there is probably no region poised for greater advancement.”

Rep. Ryan Guillen

Texas House of Representatives District 31

"With our strategic geographical positions along the Texas-Mexico international border and the Gulf of Mexico, our young and highly motivated workforce, and our remarkably affordable living, our communities in Starr and Willacy counties offer a rural landscape with an abundance of natural outdoor activities, exceptional tourism options, and a largely untapped opportunity for economic growth. The rural, Rio Grande Valley is wide-open for business."

Rep. René O. Oliveira

Texas House of Representatives District 37

“The economy for Brownsville and the Laguna Madre area is really taking off. Space-X's launch site is drawing additional businesses, and launches will dramatically increase tourism. Combining that with the major manufacturers coming in, activity at the Port of Brownsville, and The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, the eastern Valley is positioned to lead the Valley's economy for the next few years.”

"The Rio Grande Valley has experienced tremendous growth over the last few years, this has been in great part due to the willingness of our community leaders, elected officials, and residents coming together and working more as a region to achieve the same goal - improving our region's quality of life, while leveraging our unique economic standing and attracting businesses to move into the area. The legislature has worked in much the same way, and we have been able to pass legislation that will continue to grow the Rio Grande Valley for generations to come. This Fall, we welcomed the opening of the new University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), our first class of medical students--with a medical school slated to open next year, and in the near future, we will witness the first rocket launch off of Boca Chica Beach as Space X begins operations. My vision for our region is that we continue to work together as one RGV community, so that we may continue to economically grow our region--this will bring with it better educational, medical, and business opportunities, among many others."

Rep. Eddie Lucio III

Texas House of Representatives District 38

“The Rio Grande Valley will continue to serve our state as a model of collaborative effort by demonstrating what can be accomplished regionally through relentless work and essential partnerships. I am confident we will continue to grow and create innovative and sustainable solutions for a better educated, safer, and healthier South Texas.”

Rep. Armando "Mando" Martinez

Texas House of Representatives District 39

“The Rio Grande Valley has always been a hidden gem in the state of Texas. Now, we are well known for our international commerce, educational opportunities, developing transportation infrastructure, and individuals with an excellent work ethic. We are not only the front door for Texas, but also for the entire United States.”

Rep. Terry Canales

Texas House of Representatives District 40

“I’m a passionate advocate for education,always striving to ensure that our children are seen as an investment and not an expense. I hold a deeprooted belief that education is the cornerstone of society and a great equalizer for the future.”

“Our leadership expedites a emergent, active, and comprehensive business environment by fostering effective leadership development; thoughtful public discussion; stewardship of our vital natural resources; sound investment; and facilitation of public forums and input; an unparalleled regional network; and advocacy arm.” - Julian Alvarez, RGVP, President/CEO “Texas is a leader in the global marketplace. In 2014, for the thirteenth year in a row, Texas was ranked as the number one state by export revenues. Texas ex-ports for 2014 totaled over $288.04 billion, up from over $279.37 billion in 2013. The state’s exports out-performed overall U.S. exports, which only grew by 2.6 percent to $1.62 trillion in 2014 from $1.57 trillion in 2013. “ - Office of the Governor, Greg Abbott on Texas Economy Starr County Judge

The Honorable Aurelio "Keter" Guerra

Starr County: Working to Deliver a Stronger Future to be enjoyed by many generations to come.

“Willacy County is inclusion of the Low Rio Grande South Texas Region with a game changer in action to enhance a vibrant regional economy.”

The Honorable Eloy Vera

Willacy County Judge

“We are working diligently to deliver a stronger future by attracting new businesses that will create new jobs, construct and renovate new roads, increase upper level education and provide affordable housing opportunities. Progress can be seen with the completion of roadway projects, construction of facilities and increase of services. We are aggressively pursuing green energy and have secured wind farm projects in various areas of Starr County which are in full operation and are working on additional sites. The transformation of FM 755 Gateway is currently under construction and we are working to promote our port of entries which will serve to facilitate international trade. These are some of the projects that are currently under way to create new retail, restaurants, lodging and industrial projects resulting in employment, commerce and tax benefits for Starr County. We continually work with legislators to secure federal and state grants for business, housing, roads and law enforcement. As the infrastructure improvements are completed the commercial landscape of our community will forever be transformed.”

The Honorable Ramón Garcia

Hidalgo County Judge

"With increased higher educational facilities, greater infrastructure, and a booming and vibrant population, our region promises to bring vast opportunities to the business community. We look forward to a great and promising future for Hidalgo County."

The Honorable Pete Sepulveda, Jr.

Cameron County Judge

“The stars are aligned in Cameron County and great things are on the horizon. By now, we all know of the amazing opportunities coming to the region which will transform the economic landscape of the region. We will soon see the impact the new University, the Medical School, SpaceX, and many other potential investments will bring to the region. As our new Dean of the UTRGV medical school Dr. Francisco Fernandez summed up recently in one word: “opportunity”. A chance for our sons and daughters to experience what many of us couldn’t for many years. With a bright future ahead of us we need to stay out in front and continue to ride this wave of success. A great economy not only means well-paying jobs and a great quality of life but it also means an educational system second to none at our four year schools, our community colleges and our technical schools. I also believe that a strong health care system is critically important to the economic well-being and sustainability of the region. We have the opportunity to have world renowned research and health care services in our region similar to what the larger cities in this nation have today and that will enable us to be more productive and lead healthier lives to grow the economy and to grow in our personal lives.”

Richard H. Garcia Mayor

Ramiro Garza City Manager/ RSTEC Chairman

“With unprecedented growth, Edinburg’s future holds promise in UTRGV, its medical school and the expansion of entertainment events and sporting venues. In Edinburg, we have plenty of space to grow and welcome all with open arms.” - Garcia “The future of the Rio Grande Valley will be successful in terms of economic development as long as we continue to speak and work together from a single, regional perspective, and contribute resources toward those larger goals that service all of our communities. RSTEC facilitates these efforts as the Rio Grande Valley transforms through higher education, infrastructure and advanced manufacturing.” - Garza

Chris Boswell Mayor

“Harlingen’s cooperation to advance the Bi-National Economic Development Mega Region, the Harlingen Aerotropolis, the Free Trade Bridge at Los Indios, a thriving health services district, and the aerospace industry guarantee continued growth for many types of businesses. Education opportunities offered by Harlingen schools, Texas State Technical College and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley continually improve the quality of life in our clean, friendly community.”

Charlie Cabler

City Manager

"Brownsville's future is radiant. We can only expect vibrancy in the years to come as we strive for a more livable, walkable community with improved health, social, and economic well-being for all of our residents. Given the recent boom in innovative industries such as space, and unique educational opportunities made available through the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, I foresee great economic vitality in Brownsville's future.” Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


Diana Martinez Mayor

Luciano Ozuna City Manager

“Alamo has been nationally recognized as a “Playful City USA” community for our efforts to increase and promote play. Playful City USA communities utilize play as an innovative solution to address a number of challenges facing kids, families and communities. In turn, these communities retain a competitive advantage by creating healthier, more vibrant communities where families want to live and companies want to do business. Along with these efforts, we will continue to improve city infrastructure, recruit new business development and provide superior services to all citizens, businesses and visitors.”

Martin Cepeda Mayor



Fernando Flores City Manager

“The City of Donna is working on the construction plans to prepare for the Southbound Inspection Facility for empty commercial trucks at the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge. We are also forecasting an increase in privately owned vehicles (POVs) crossings with a park and ride facility to assist in garnering more retail activity in this region”, stated City Manager Fernando Flores. The Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority (HCRMA) has also begun right of way acquisition for the International Bridge Trade Corridor (IBTC) which will increase traffic flow from the port of entry to a less congested route to Interstate 69. “Along with growing international commercial and retail trade, we are focusing on revitalization of our downtown district, retaining and growing our existing businesses, as seen by our upswing in sales taxes in 2015. With our expanded City limits, the City of Donna has increased opportunities and vacant land to offer retail or international trade related investors”, added Mayor Irene Muñoz.


Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

City Manager

“In concert with our regional partners Hidalgo aims to advance the Historic ambiance by further developing the Hidalgo Nueva Vida Project promoting cultural arts and entertainment. Hidalgo is shovel ready and set to go all out for retail business with young aspiring entrepreneurs and a strong cluster of big-box names like Walmart, Whataburger, Buffalo Wings and Rings with 13 prime acres just south of Walmart. We are a place to connect to endless possibilities for commercial and industrial business projects alike.”

Susie Houston Irene Muñoz

Julian Gonzalez

Rolando Vela City Manager

“We invite you to invest in Laguna Vista’s bright future. Today, with great enthusiasm and enterprise, our community is alive with development and growth and we want you to be a part of it.” The Town of Laguna Vista is ideal for new and expanding business with the following tributes: · Development of a 2nd access causeway in the vicinity of Laguna Vista · Enlargement through retail business locales on Highway 100 · Reinvestment and upgrading of the SPI Golf Club

Henry Hinojosa Mayor

“Mercedes has a vibrant economy with a strong community and business base with a great quality of life. As we plan for the future of the Queen City we have a significant educational corridor that is making a difference for our economic outlook. The UTRGV Family Residency Program, South Texas Independent School District’s High School for Health Professions and Science Academy, Texas Valley Communities Foundation's Meditec program and their initiative with Harvard are an educational cooperative with pooled resources in Mercedes.”

Henry Hinojosa Mayor

“Port Isabel is poised for a future as rich as its historic past. With a business community that is vibrant and varied and growing and an Economic Development Corporation that offers programs to support that growth, you’ll want to consider Port Isabel as part of your business start up or expansion plans.”

Ambrosio “Amos” Hernandez Norberto Salinas Mayor

Martin Garza City Manager

“Mission, Texas continues to be a leading city in the Rio Grande Valley with a strong business climate. We work with the business community to provide superior services that will further grow their investments. Mission is a great place to be!”


Juan Guerra City Manager

“I have the unique privilege of implementing the vision of our mayor, Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez, and the Pharr City Commission for a professionally managed municipality that focuses on improving our infrastructure, increasing our parks and green-space and delivering meaningful economic development. The City of Pharr is a great place to live, work and play.” - Guerra

Jim Darling Mayor

Roel “Roy” Rodriguez, P.E. City Manager

"The City of McAllen, with its population of 140,000, is committed to powering the economy for South Texas and working to retain and attract jobs and investment to the region. Through dedicated leadership we aim to enhance the quality of life in our community. The City of McAllen is an ideal place to live and do business. Located along the U.S./Mexico border, McAllen is part of one of the fastest growing MSA’s in the country." - Darling "Our mission in the City of McAllen is to provide leadership, commitment and resources to our entire community. McAllen is a clean, safe and affordable city with endless opportunities. Our city will continue to combine big name events, history, the arts and business opportunities with great neighborhoods. We are dedicated to delivering exemplary municipal services responsive to our entire community and consistent with our history, culture and unique character." - Rodriguez

Gilbert Gonzales Mayor

Eleazar Garcia, Jr. City Manager

“Life occurs naturally in Raymondville! Respect for the environment and community pride is part of every-day life here. While being a diverse rural community, our vision includes people! Natural splendor and hard work have resulted in unique communities throughout Willacy County with safe neighborhoods, excellent schools, progressive government, and an overall relaxed quality of life. There’s also plenty of available land to position your dream home or a business seeking to launch or expand, come discover a promising future where Life occurs naturally!” - Gonzalez “We are focused on an improvement strategy that established activities to attract technology driven industries increasing job-creation. Furthermore, draftsmen and contractors are partnering to design and erect new housing developments to attract those moving for these key indicators of strength in our growing economy offering an enhanced quality of life.” - Garcia

Joel Villarreal Mayor

Elisa Beas

City Manager

"Rio Grande City - A historic community with modern appeal that promotes economic growth, supports business and industry, embraces a high quality of life and where people to come to live, work and play." - Villarreal “Rio Grande City is at the threshold of a multi-million dollar business development, providing over 100 new jobs and a significant increase in sales and real estate tax income. The city continues to experience growth in new businesses. Further development of the airport will be expanded and upgraded to receive cargo flights, and expansion of the utility services to service areas that will attract business and residential development. Plans for an expanded international crossing and interstate highway and a direct path north from the port of entry will facilitate international trade. The wind farm and the international gas pipeline yielded direct and indirect benefits to RGC and the entire County. Increases in sales and hotel occupancy tax in the 1st two quarters of 2014, 7% and 18% respectfully, can be attributed to these projects. The 120 mile, 42'-48' inch, Net-Mexico pipeline is a $665MIL project that traverses Starr County almost in its entirety. About 50 miles of the project are in Starr County and ends just east of RGC where it crosses to connect to the Los Ramones Mexican Pipeline. RGC received a $2.2MIL payment from the Texas Comptroller for the storage of the material on our property.” - Beas

Celeste Z. Sanchez Mayor

Art Rodriguez

Interim City Manager

“The City of San Benito is a cultural community with a bright economic future. San Benito is a gateway to international commerce, offering explosive economic development along the Texas-Mexico border, attracting new and expanding businesses and features a progressive, welcoming environment. With a growing economy, good leadership and a healthy quality of life, San Benito contains unique components to make the Resaca City a perfect place to grow a business, and a family.”

Bharat ( Barry ) R. Patel Mayor

William DiLibero City Manager

“The Tropical Tip of Texas - SOUTH PADRE ISLAND is going through some major changes: $5Mil Convention Center Renovation, $2Mil Park 'n Ride facility, $4Mil Beach Nourishment Project this fall, $3 MIL to add a brand new Bike & Pedestrian lane along Gulf Blvd. and a brand new Park on Padre Blvd with a beach access. Major renovation and expansion on Sea Turtle Inc., brand new Native Plant Center opening this fall, Reduced Speed Limits for a more pedestrian and bike friendly Padre Blvd. We have extended bike lanes by an additional 4 miles round trip. Next time you come to SPI bring your surf board, flip-flops and bicycle. Business or pleasure - We welcome you and your business!”

David Suarez City Manager

“Weslaco's focus is shifting towards a retail economy with a robust business profile that includes national brands and local business owners. Join us in Weslaco, where the light shines brightly on this "city on the grow!" Our sales tax revenues are indicative of the vibrant economic progress happening in Weslaco the epicenter of the Rio Grande Valley.”

Crisanto Salinas City Manager

“The City of Roma forecasts a future with an emphasis on Historic Preservation and Heritage Tourism, Ecotourism & International Trade generating economic vitality in the community.” Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


PONDER OVER OUR ANNUAL EVENTS & FESTIVALS The Economic Development and Tourism Division (EDT) of the Governor's Office markets Texas as one of the world's premier business locations and travel destinations as do the region’s Chambers of Commerce and Convention & Visitor Bureaus.

Envision a “ballpark figure” with an economic impact of $50 Mil+ from our local Annual Events & Festivals.


The spur ripple effect or spin-off of activities generates a new injection of capital into the economy! Job-creation occurs as a result of this economic activity.

Charro Days Fiesta

Sombrero Festival

Candlelight Posada/ Holiday Parade

PalmFest Mercedes



Texas Cook ‘em

RGV Livestock Show

RGV Birding Festival

Texas Street Festival



Blues on the Hill

Texas Butterfly Festival

Festival of Lights

Texas Citrus Festival



Here’s where the ripples occur: • Attendance Impact • Operational Impact • Direct Impact • Indirect Impact • Induced Impact

Event and festival impact cascades; from year-round operations to vendors, sponsors and exhibitors, attendees, travel, accommodations, increased food and shopping, ticket sales and ticket outlets, media coverage valuation along with the worth of creating an identity.




Wild in Willacy

Willacy Pioneer Days



Pharr Hub Phestival

Texas Onion Fest

Media identifiers &/or branding efforts for the Valley have included: Rio Grande – The Valley - Texas Tropics – Magic Valley


Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

Rio South Texas Economic Council 2 Countries, 1 Region, Many Choices.

The Rio Grande Valley of Texas has emerged as one of America’s most vibrant economies. As the future home of the first commercial rocket orbital launch site in the world and a new regional university along with a medical school opening in 2016, the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) is the ideal location for companies looking to expand or relocate. The economic impact of SpaceX’s construction of the launch site with the creation of 600 long-term jobs and the University of Texas System’s multimillion dollar investment in the region are two of the RGV’s key developments that will transform the region for many years to come. It is more important than ever to facilitate a regional approach to economic development for the RGV. For that purpose, the Rio South Texas Economic Council (RSTEC) was formed as a coalition of economic development interests organized to market the RGV in order to improve the economy. RSTEC has worked on traditional marketing for the attraction of new investment to the region and also works to enhance the image of the RGV. For this purpose, a news and information site, was launched to deliver positive information about the region. More decision makers and general audience are becoming aware of why the RGV is one of the best locations to invest and do business and to live. Nearly 100 Fortune 500 companies maintain operations in the Rio Grande Valley Photo Courtesy of: MPC Studios

Here are a few of the reasons: • The RGV is located close to affordable labor with easy access to international markets. • The young workforce is increasingly educated with The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) and Medical School, South Texas College, Texas State Technical College and Texas Southmost College providing higher education. • UTRGV will become one of the largest higher education complexes in the nation. The University of Texas System has committed $700 million to UTRGV over the next ten years. • The RGV is geographically situated between the Eagle Ford Shale of Texas and the Burgos Basin in Mexico and is expected to benefit greatly from their development. • Completion of Mexican superhighway 40D from the Pacific Coast to the Gulf of Mexico means the RGV will become the shortest route to Midwestern and East Coast US markets. • Over a dozen international bridges link the RGV to Mexico and facilitate daily business. • SpaceX has selected Brownsville as the site for the construction of a commercial rocket facility that will create 600 long-term jobs and attract 15-20 thousand visitors for monthly launches.

RSTEC’s long-term goal is to continue to market and promote the Rio Grande Valley to prospective new businesses and investors. RSTEC membership is open to businesses, associations, and individuals in addition to the Foundation members from economic development corporations, municipalities and counties. Our belief is that the larger the membership, the greater the resources and influence our organization can have with investors and decision-makers, which means creating the types of communities in the Rio Grande Valley that offer irresistible work and lifestyle environments. (956) 928-0641 • 1-(888) 778-3201 (toll free) Photo Courtesy of: SpaceX

Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015


The Rio Grande Valley is an unbeatable place to live, perform, and connect, but don’t take our word for it. The areas communities have been featured and recognized time and again as the best places to live. Year after year the Valley is praised by respected industry specialists like CNN Money, Sperling’s, U.S.A. Today, U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, and Moody’s.





Female Employees Earn 112% of Men’s Average Income



USDA Rural Development $200,000 & $400,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG)

FAIRFIELD INN & SUITES BY MARRIOTT Hotel & Convention Center Project $19 million dollars


Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015

according to new data from the Commerce Department; the state grew by a stellar 5.2%.

$171,000,000 Total Project Estimate Four Lanes | Begins FM 755

Realignment 83 to 281 Brooks County


by McCallum Sweeney Consultants


Ranked 19th within Texas Advanced Placement® participation is 100%

Designated by US Dept. of Interior

US National Historic Landmark District & US National Register of Historic Places


“LIVING SHORELINE” PROJECT Texas General Land Office Construction Fund

Approx. $1 Million






ON THE LIST OF BEST CITIES TO START A BUSINESS out of 150 largest cities in the U.S. based on population. - April 2015




$1.5 MILLION PROJECT Historic Hidalgo Courthouse $450,000 Restoration Grant


RANKED BEST PLACE TO RETIRE Desirable cost of living and tax rates







SmartAsset Retirement | July 2015


Coordinated Border Infrastructure

$9 Million

Border Safety Inspection Facility


NON-URBAN OUTDOOR RECREATION TPW Development Grant of $400,000 Alamo Nature Park East of U.S. Route 83






$93.4 Million Utilities System Revenue Refunding Bonds, Series 2015; Outlook Stable Snapshot of Economic Progress - Rio Grande Valley 2015