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Controversial practice of jailing Texans too poor to pay fines for petty offenses, such as traffic tickets, could be coming to an end following House vote in support of plan by Rep. Canales

Featured: Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, addresses fellow lawmakers from the front podium in the chamber of the Texas House of Representatives during the first half of the 140-day 85th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, which began in mid-January 2017.

Photograph By HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHY

The long-standing practice statewide of jailing tens of thousands of Texans who are too poor to pay expensive fines for Class C misdemeanors, such as traffic tickets, could soon come to an end under legislation by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, which has been strongly approved by the Texas House of Representatives. “In Texas, tens of thousands of people are being sent to jail each year for failure to pay tickets, fines and fees arising from court cases,” said Canales, an attorney. “We have too many Texans statewide who are struggling to pay rent and groceries, then they wind up getting ticketed for the most minor offenses, such as traffic violations. In the effort by government to squeeze money out of indigent Texans, taxpayers end up paying to jail these minor offenders.” House Bill 351, which received final approval on Thursday, March 23, 2017 from the House of Representatives, would clear up confusion in existing state law so local judges, including justices of the peace, can allow the defendant to perform community service instead of being thrown into jail when they are found indigent. “At the time of sentencing, judges should also be making judgments on whether defendants can even pay the fines that are levied,” Canales said. “Low-income Texans are being set up to fail by the way fines and fees are handled, and they are often driven deeper into poverty.” A defendant who has the money to pay the fine, but refuses to pay it, would still face the risk of being jailed by a judge, he added. HB 351 would also help save taxpayers’ money because of the hidden costs, such as the expenses and legal responsibilities involved in holding a person in jail. “The valuable resources of our judicial and law enforcement professionals, and especially our jails, should remain focused on putting violent criminals, thieves and robbers behind bars, not on poor people charged with an offense whose only punishment is a fine,” said the House District 40 state representative.

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Edinburg EDC: Retail economy shows continued growth, with January 2017 local sales tax revenue up by more than 3.7 percent over January 2016

Featured: Dr. Peter Dabrowski, Maestro of the Valley Symphony Orchestra, and a member of the Board of Directors for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, on Tuesday, February 28, 2017, was inducted into the Rio Grande Valley Walk of Fame at Hidalgo’s BorderFest. Presenting him with the honor was Miss Hidalgo 2016 Alma Pamela Niño. Dabrowski was nominated by the City of Edinburg and selected to the Rio Grande Valley Walk of Fame by the City of Hidalgo, Hidalgo’s BorderFest committee, and the Rio Grande Valley Walk of Fame Commission. Dabrowski is in his 15th season as Music Director and Conductor of the Valley Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, he serves as Associate Dean of the College of Fine Arts, Professor of Music, and Conductor of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Symphony Orchestra in Edinburg. He is committed to providing exhilarating musical performances and education in the Rio Grande Valley. The Walk of Fame celebrates life, achievements and significant civic contributions of outstanding men and women in all walks of life to the communities in the Rio Grande Valley and South Texas.

Photograph By RONNIE LARRALDE

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Featured, from left: Hiren Govind, Chief Operating Officer, Qube Hotel Group; Mike Govind, Owner and Operator, Best Western Plus – Edinburg Inn & Suites; Letty González, President, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; and Jacob De León, Funeral Director, Memorial Funeral Home, and Chairman of the Board, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, on Tuesday, February 28, 2017, at the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo. During that evening, as part of the City of Hidalgo’s 2017 Borderfest, Mike Govind, a former member of the Board of Directors for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, was inducted into the Rio Grande Valley Walk of Fame.

Photograph By RONNIE LARRALDE

Edinburg’s retail economy showed an improvement of more than 3.7 percent in January 2017 compared with January 2016, based on local sales taxes generated during those months, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. The amount of local sales taxes collected also helps reflect the strength of an economy, along with construction activities, per capita income, education, historical performances, and related trends. The local sales tax is used in Edinburg to help pay for many city services, while the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation uses its one-half cent local sales tax to help generate economic development in the city. For January 2017, Edinburg’s retail economy produced $1,573,510.95 in local sales taxes, compared with $1,516,885.34 in January 2016, representing an improvement of 3.73 percent. Edinburg’s 3.73 percent increase was third-best among the Valley’s major economies, with Harlingen posting the top improvement, a 4.10 percent growth in January 2017 over January 2016. In terms of local sales tax revenue for January 2017, McAllen led all major Valley cities with $4,129,303.57. Brownsville was second, ($2,586,308.57), Harlingen was third ($1,769,340.94), and Edinburg was fourth ($1,573,510.95). The Edinburg EDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Rupert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members.

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DPS troopers, Texas Rangers, and other eligible Highway Patrol personnel would receive daily overtime pay protections while promoting public safety under plans by Rep. Canales, Rep. Miller, and Sen. Hinojosa

Featured: Texas Department of Public Safety troopers, wearing their traditional “Texas Tan” uniforms and cowboy hats with their patent leather gun belts, showed up on Friday, March 3, 2017, along with other South Texas law enforcement professionals for the groundbreaking of the multi-million dollar Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence, located at 4300 S. Cage Boulevard in Pharr. The upcoming campus is a collaboration between South Texas College, the City of Pharr, the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo School District, and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). “The facility will benefit the region by adding additional programs in public safety, law enforcement, border security, and fire science. These programs provide college level certificates and degrees for public safety and law enforcement professionals in the Rio Grande Valley,” said Mario Reyna, Dean for Business and Technology at STC. “Furthermore, this center will be able to accommodate the professional continuing education courses required by all law enforcement officers. The spectrum of courses offered will cover all the needs of our region. Traveling to College Station or San Antonio for specialized training will be a thing of the past.”

Photograph By ALEX RÍOS

Texas Department of Public Safety troopers, Texas Rangers and other DPS commissioned officers, such as Criminal Investigations Division Special Agents, Texas Capitol Security, and other personnel within the Texas Highway Patrol, would earn overtime pay on a daily basis under legislation by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, Rep. Rick Miller, R-Sugar Land, and Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen. House Bill 483 by Miller/Canales and Senate Bill 297 by Hinojosa, which are identical in language, would change Section 411.016, Government Code, to allow DPS, which is a state police force, to calculate overtime for eligible staff – including its Homeland Security Division and Counterterrorism Division – based on working more than eight hours in a 24-hour period, according to the bill analysis of both measures. The two bills would benefit officers because it would allow them to take sick leave or other types of leave without risking the loss of earned overtime. As DPS officers move to a standard 50-hour work week, they will develop a reasonable expectation of paid overtime based on the standard schedule. “In order to increase protection for our citizens, DPS often has its troopers on duty for up to 12 hours a day, which is 48 hours during four days of a five-day, eight hour a day, workweek. ” Canales explained. “But currently, if for whatever reason, any trooper who has worked more than 40 hours in four days is not available or not needed on the fifth day, he or she would not receive any overtime pay. That’s not fair. Our law enforcement professionals put their lives on the line for us every day.”

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Edinburg EDC: $93.4 million in total construction took place in city during first month of the year, boosting hopes that 2017 will reach record level

Featured, from left: Elva Jackson Garza, Vice President & Marketing Manager, Edwards Abstract and Title Co.; Byron Jay Lewis, President & CEO, Edwards Abstract and Title Co.; Guy S. Huddleston, III, Senior Vice President & Corporate Ambassador, Edwards Abstract and Title Co.; Mike Overly, Executive Vice President/COO/CFO, Edwards Abstract and Title Co.; Edinburg Mayor Richard García; Dr. Ted C. Jones, Ph.D., Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, Stewart Title Guaranty Co.; D.D. Hoffman, Senior Vice President & Corporate Ambassador, Edwards Abstract & Title Co., and Brandon Linscomb, Vice President/Agency Services Manager, Stewart Title Guaranty Company. This portrait shot was taken on Thursday, March 2, 2017 at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance during the 13th Annual Real Estate Forum, which drew almost 300 real estate professionals and business leaders, and which was hosted by Edwards Abstract and Title Co., whose headquarters is in Edinburg. Garza is a former member of the Board of Directors for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. García is the President of the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors.

A group photo during the H-E-B Distinguished Chair in Diabetes and Genomics for the South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute luncheon on Wednesday, Mar. 8, 2017 at the McAllen Country Club in McAllen, Texas. From L to R: Dr. Havidan Rodriguez, Winell Herron, Dr. Sarah Wililams-Blangero, Linda Tovar, Kelly Scrivner-Cronin.
UTRGV Photo by Paul Chouy

Photograph By ROBERTO GONZÁLEZ

Featured, from left: Dr. Havidán Rodríguez, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley; Winell Herron, Vice President of Public Affairs, Diversity & Environmental Affairs, H-E-B Grocery Company LP; Dr. Sarah Williams-Blangero (seated), Director, South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute (STDOI); Linda Tovar, H-E-B Manager of Public Affairs, Border Region; and Dr. Kelly Scrivner-Cronin, Vice President for Advancement, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Williams-Blangero, a genetics and infectious diseases expert, is Director of STDOI. UTRGV leaders on Thursday, March 9, 2017, named Williams-Blangero as the Endowed Chair of the H-E-B Distinguished Chair in Diabetes and Genomics for the South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute. Rodríguez is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation.

Photograph By PAUL CHOUY

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Edinburg EDC: Building permit, valued at $80 million, issued for major construction phase of 190,000 square foot, 8,500-seat Bert Ogden Arena

Featured: One of the more valuable public construction projects in Edinburg’s history took a major step forward in January 2017 with the issuance of a building permit, valued at $80 million, for the city-owned, 190,000 square foot Bert Ogden Arena, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. The Bert Ogden Arena is being designed to host a variety of entertainment events, including sporting events such as basketball, concerts, family shows, and trade shows. Once completed, the total investment for the Bert Ogden Arena, a first-class indoor multi-purpose center being built at the corner of Interstate Highway 69-Central and Alberta Road in east Edinburg, will reach an estimated $88.3 million, and will serve as a major economic development engine for that region of the city.

Featured: An inside view of the Bert Ogden Arena, which will serve as the home for Rio Grande Valley Vipers professional basketball in Edinburg beginning in Fall 2017. Currently, the RGV Vipers play their home games at the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo. The RGV Vipers are affiliated with the NBA’s Houston Rockets. The facility will feature 8,500 fixed seats, which includes 1,200 club seats, 12 luxury suites, a restaurant/club area, locker rooms, offices for sports team personnel, and marquee signs by the expressway. The Bert Ogden Arena, which will have parking for 2,856 vehicles, is part of a 49.57 acre site with plans by a private investment group to build – next to or near the arena – nine pad sites that will add millions of dollars in value to that upscale commercial development. Those pad sites represent one million square feet of property for new businesses.

Illustrations Courtesy of VIPERS ARENA LLC

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Mayor García, President of the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors, and McAllen Mayor Darling to address 13th Annual Real Estate Forum on Thursday, March 2, 2017 from 10 a.m to 11 a.m.

Featured, from left: Agustín García, Jr., Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, and Mayor Richard García, who also serves as President of the Board of Directors for the Edinburg EDC, review jobs creation strategies during an Edinburg EDC public meeting at Edinburg City Hall on Friday, August 7, 2015. Additional insights into the local and regional economies will be offered in Edinburg during the 13th Annual State of Real Estate Forum, sponsored by Edwards Abstract and Title Co., to be held during the morning of Thursday, March 2, 2017 at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance, located at 118 Paseo Del Prado. Mayor García and McAllen Mayor James E. Darling will participate as guest speakers during the gathering, which already has more than 250 business, real estate, community, economic development and political leaders confirmed to attend the event, which begins at 9 a.m., according to Elva Jackson Garza, Vice-President & Marketing Manager, Edward Abstract and Title Co. Garza is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Edinburg EDC. Mayor García will make his presentation from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m, followed by Darling, who will deliver his remarks from 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Agustín García, Jr. and Mayor García are not related. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Rupert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members.

Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR

Dr. Steven A. Lieberman, Interim Dean of the UTRGV School of Medicine, on Wednesday, February 8, 2017, addressed the UT System Board of Regents’ Health Affairs Committee in Austin, providing an update on the progress of the UT System’s newest medical school, which has a major campus in Edinburg. The Edinburg Mayor, Edinburg City Council, and Edinburg EDC successfully helped lobby the Texas Legislature in 2013 to help secure passage of Senate Bill 24, by Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Rep. René  Oliveira, D-Brownsville, which authorized the merger of UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville and the creation of a free standing medical school with a new campus in Edinburg.

Photograph By DAVID PIKE

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Edinburg EDC Board of Directors set to review nine business prospects at noon during Tuesday, February 28, 2017 meeting at Edinburg City Hall


Featured: CBS News correspondent Mireya Villarreal, a 2001 graduate of the University of Texas-Pan American and a Valley native, will be sharing her inspiring story with more than 800 GEAR-UP students at 9 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, March 1 and 2, 2017, in the Library Media Theater on the Edinburg campus of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Her appearance is part of FESTIBA 2017, which is UTRGV’s annual Festival of International Books & Arts, an educational, entertaining week-long gathering that promotes literacy and appreciation of reading for all ages. FESTIBA lasts from Monday, February 27, 2017 to Sunday, March 5, 2017 on both the Edinburg and Brownsville campuses of UTRGV. The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation is a sponsor of FESTIBA 2017.

Photograph Courtesy of CBS NEWS

Possible agreements with nine business prospects, a pending lease renewal involving the District Office of State Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, a real estate purchase under consideration, and a presentation from the Capable Kids Foundation highlight the agenda for noon on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 for the Board of Directors of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. The session, which is open to the public, will be held in the City Council Chamber of Edinburg City Hall, located at 415 West University Drive. The meeting also will be broadcast live on the Edinburg Cable Network, as well as made available in an archived version on the city’s website at:http://www.cityofedinburg.com/ecnlivestreaming.php. The Edinburg EDC Board of Director meeting will take place during the same week as FESTIBA 2017, which is the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s annual Festival of  International Books & Arts, an educational, entertaining event that promotes literacy and appreciation of reading for all ages. FESTIBA begins on Monday, February 27, and  continues through Sunday, March 5, 2017 on both the Edinburg and Brownsville campuses. The Edinburg EDC is a sponsor of FESTIBA 2017. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Rupert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members. Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director for the Edinburg EDC, which is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. Agustín García, Jr. and Mayor Richard García are not related.

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Record turnout anticipated for Fiesta Edinburg on Thursday through Sunday, February 23-26, 2017 at H-E-B Park, with Edinburg EDC serving as a major financial sponsor for 49th annual event

Featured, from left: Dalila Razo, Office Manager, Letty Reyes, Director of Business Development and Public Affairs, and Agustín García, Jr., Executive Director, who are on the staff of the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, and acting on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Edinburg EDC, on Monday, February 13, 2017, present a $15,000 check from the Edinburg EDC to Letty González, President, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, to help with the 49th Annual Fiesta Edinburg. Fiesta Edinburg will run from Thursday, February 23 to Sunday, February 26, 2017 at H-E-B Park, located at 1616 S. Raul Longoria Road.

Photograph By RONNIE LARRALDE

More than 15,000 local residents and visitors from as far away as San Antonio, drawn by two evenings of outdoor music concerts headlined by national and international stars, along with four days of one of the country’s top-rated carnivals, could set a record turnout for the 49th Annual Fiesta Edinburg on Thursday, February 23 through Sunday, February 26, 2017, reports the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation. “I believe we will break our records, and typically, we average 12,000 to 15,000 visitors for the four-day event, but with concerts, the carnival, the new venue, and the parade, we should surpass that figure,” said Ronnie Larralde, Director of Marketing and Special Events for the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. “We have been promoting this event since December, and it has created the biggest buzz. Their is great entertainment coming, there has been a lot of promotion for our city, and it has continued to grow.” Major attractions are the Heart of America Carnival, regional food, arts/crafts plus the top notch musical entertainment, which include Josh Turner, Lauren Corzine, Eddie Sáenz, and The Powell Brothers on Friday evening, and Los Cadetes de Linares de Rosendo Cantú, Zamorales, Notable, and Resplandor on Saturday evening. Individuals may purchase tickets at http://www.hebparkrgv.com. For more information please contact the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce at 956/383-4974.

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Edinburg EDC announces that $10 million TownePlace Suites by Marriott offers latest proof that Edinburg is becoming the “Destination City

Featured: TownePlace Suites by Marriott in Edinburg, whose owners, the Qube Hotel Group of Carrollton, Texas, hosted a grand opening on Friday, February 10, 2017, is the first of its type for the famous Marriott International brand, considered one of the top hospitality companies in the world, according to Ron Stewart of Dallas, Area Vice President, Lodging Development for Marriott International, Inc. “We have been watching Edinburg for a while. I have heard a lot of interesting things about what is happening with the growth, and among the most impressive things now, there have been some really big changes, not just in the economic, housing and retail environments, but some of the projects I saw today were so impressive, such as Bob’s Steak & Chop House, with the Bert Ogden Arena construction finally going vertical, the soccer stadium complex (H-E-B Park). Those, to me, were very, very impressive.” Ideal for travelers who need accommodations for longer stays, this new property offers studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom suites with fully equipped kitchens, as well as separate living/working and sleeping areas.

Photograph By JERI DEATHERAGE

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Featured: Mayor Richard García on Friday, February 10, 2o17, applauds the grand opening of the 95-room, TownePlace Suites by Marriott, located at 502 W. Trenton Road in Edinburg. The new hotel, a $10 million investment, is owned and managed by Qube Hotel Group of Carrollton, Texas. Along with the mayor in this image are, from left: Agustín “Augie” Lozano, Jr., Public Relations Manager, Bert Ogden Auto Group, and two-time Ambassador of the Year for the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce; Himesh M. Jeram, Chief Executive Officer, Qube Hotel Group; Mayor García, who also serves as President, Board of Directors, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; Hiren M. Govind, Chief Operating Officer, Qube Hotel Group, holding son Zaylen Govind; Mohan Tewani, Chief Financial Officer, Qube Hotel Group; René Flores, Ambassador, Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, and Owner of The X-Factor; Brenda Garza, General Manager, TownePlace Suites by Marriott; and Shekhar Gianchandani, Chief Development Officer, Qube Hotel Group. The Edinburg EDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. In addition to the mayor, the Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Rupert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members. Mayor Richard García and Edinburg EDC Executive Director Agustín García, Jr. are not related. “Such a major investment, the most recent of many outstanding businesses growing in our community or moving to our city, with more to come, is a reflection of the strong confidence that business owners, from independent, small family-owned stores to global corporations, have in our city, its future, and especially in our citizens,” the mayor said. “As I predicted during my State of the City Address less than a year ago, together, we are transforming Edinburg into a ‘Destination City’, a city that offers the best education, superb residential options for every level, and world-class cultural and sporting venues.”

Photograph By RONNIE LARRALDE

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Rio Grande Valley Day at the Capitol allows state leaders to showcase border region as key to Texas’ economic well-being, announces Edinburg EDC

Featured: At the front podium on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, on Tuesday, February 7, 2017, praises the virtues of the Rio Grande Valley and its beneficial economic and social impact on Texas and the United States. Flanking him, from left, are: Rep. Óscar Longoria, D-La Joya; Rep. R.D. “Bobby” Guerra, D-McAllen; Rep. Armando “Mando” Martínez, D-Weslaco; Rep. Ryan Guillén, D-Rio Grande City; Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville; Rep. Eddie Lucio, III, D-Brownsville; and Rep. Sergio Muñoz, D-Mission.

Photograph By DAVID PIKE

Deep South Texas continues to grow as one of the state’s most important regions for trade, commerce, and culture, state lawmakers were reminded on Tuesday, February 7, 2017, during Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Day at the Texas Capitol, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. Among the messages delivered to the state leadership was the Texas Legislature would be wise to continuing investing state resources and creating state laws and policies that will help the region’s extraordinary transformation in the past two generations from once being a major agricultural and ranching area, into building on its status as a growing national center of international trade, energy development, even future space flights. Those were among the highlights pointed out to the 181-member Texas Legislature and other statewide officials, including Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, who met with a large delegation of Valley business, community, and political leaders during the one-day lobbying effort. Included among the 35 organizations and the more than 200 individuals who participated in the day-long event were the Edinburg Mayor, Edinburg City Council, the Board of Directors of the Edinburg EDC, the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, and the Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District. The Edinburg EDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The Edinburg EDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mayor Richard García as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Elías Longoria, Jr. as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Rupert and Dr. Peter Dabrowski as Members.

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