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Photograph By DIEGO REYNA

Featured: With his image on a big screen, Mayor Richard García delivers his State of the City Address before a full house at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance on Thursday, May 19, 2016. The entire State of the City Address is available for viewing on the City of Edinburg web page – http://www.cityofedinburg.com.

Photograph By DIEGO REYNA

Add a new nickname to Edinburg – “Destination City”. As the city has undergone tremendous changes in just one generation – about 20 years – it has proudly been known for being a “Gateway to the Future” city, a “university city”, a “three-time All-America City”. Now, with so much positive growth going on in his beloved hometown, Mayor Richard García is promoting the latest moniker, which he came up with, for Edinburg – “Destination City.”

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With positive growth at all levels, Edinburg is being transformed into “Destination City”, Mayor García says in his 2016 State of the City Address

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

Add a new nickname to Edinburg – “Destination City”.

As the city has undergone tremendous changes in just one generation – about 20 years – it has proudly been known for being a “Gateway to the Future” city, a “university city”, a “three-time All-America City”.

Now, with so much positive growth going on in his beloved hometown, Mayor Richard García is promoting the latest moniker, which he came up with, for Edinburg – “Destination City”.

“Together, we are transforming Edinburg into a Destination City, a city that offers the best education, superb residential options for every level, world-class cultural and sporting venues,” García proclaimed during his State of the City Address, which he delivered on Thursday, May 19, 2016 before a full house at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance.

“Extraordinary health care, quality employment opportunities, good-paying jobs so that if you work hard, you shouldn’t live in poverty or have to work two jobs to make ends meet,” the mayor continued to list the attributes of a city that is approaching 90,000 population. “We all deserve a little time to help our kids with their homework or share a meal with our loved ones.

“It is yours, my friends and neighbors,” García added, emphasizing, “Edinburg is a Destination City.”

Mayor García also serves on the Board of Directors for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director.

Richard García and Agustín García, Jr. are not related.

The Edinburg EDC is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council.

In addition to Mayor García, the EEDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mark Iglesias as President, Harvey Rodríguez, Jr. as Vice President, Ellie M. Torres as Secretary/Treasurer, and Richard Ruppert as member.

Serving with the mayor on the Edinburg City Council are Mayor Pro Tem Richard Molina, Councilmember Homer Jasso, Jr., Councilmember J.R. Betancourt, and Councilmember David Torres.

GROWTH HAS COME WITHOUT RAISING PROPERTY TAX RATE

The mayor’s State of the City Address follows:

Thank you all for being here today.

We are excited about all the fantastic news to share with you.

Thank you, Councilmen, for your dedication and commitment to our city, for all that you do.

All that you just saw, and all that is to follow, has been done without raising taxes. In fact, Edinburg is one of the only cities in the Rio Grande Valley that hasn’t raised property taxes in 21 consecutive years.

We are a growing city and being fiscally responsible. We are planning, prioritizing, and partnering. Our city, your city, is investing wisely and stretching every single dollar. Edinburg’s sales tax collection continues tone one of the strongest in the region with double-digit increases.

The City of Edinburg is financially sound, and two of the leading global rating agencies predict our strong economic outlook will continue due to the rate of growth, the construction activity, and the city’s management practices.

Explosive growth brings with it explosive demand for city services and infrastructure. We are vigilant and committed and are proud to say that we do not just “keep up” with the demand, but we stay ahead of it.

And we listen. We listen to you. We take seriously what our residents want; after all, you are the reason that all of this matters.

You said you wanted more entertainment options, more shopping venues more restaurants, parks and more family outing choices. We heard you, and it’s coming.

EDINBURG BEING TRANSFORMED INTO “DESTINATION CITY”

Together, we are transforming Edinburg into a Destination City, a city that offers the best education. We recognize that success in life depends in the classroom.

Superb residential options for every level – luxury, middle, and affordable house all have equal importance.

Extraordinary health care, quality employment opportunities, good-paying jobs so that if you work hard, you shouldn’t live in poverty or have to work two jobs to make ends meet. We all deserve a little time to help our kids with their homework or share a meal with our loved ones.

World-class cultural and sporting venues, and it is yours, my friends and neighbors – and it is theirs, our friends across the state and country. Edinburg is a Destination City.

The creation of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, one of the largest Hispanic-serving higher education institutions – which, by the way, it a very, very big deal when capturing the attention of the federal government.

UTRGV provides the Valley’s residents with the highest caliber of educational opportunities.

UTRGV also makes Edinburg a Destination City. People from other countries and across the United States will come to the Rio Grande Valley to attend this great university.

And, although technically located in our neighbor McAllen’s back yard, our gates are open and we welcome Texas A&M University to our neighborhood.

Edinburg has one of the best school districts in Texas.

The Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District, with more than 30,000 students, has four nationally-recognized high schools, 1o schools that have earned perfect distinctions, two schools nominated for National Blue Ribbon, and 13 Title 1 reward schools.

To date, Edinburg has launched an Entrepreneur Development Initiative that will be called the “Hive Effect”.

In partnership with Grindstone CoWorking, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation will offer an all-inclusive business model that will guide the participants from conceptualization to commercialization of their product or service. Training courses, professional mentorship, shared conference and office space will be provided to qualified businesses.

UTRGV SCHOOL OF MEDICINE, DOCTORS HOSPITAL AT RENAISSANCE, SOUTH TEXAS HEALTH SYSTEMS

Many of you know this about me: I am a history buff.

I will not be around to say, “I told you so”, so let me just say it now. The single most significant event in the Rio Grande Valley, and certainly in my beloved City of Edinburg, is the creation of the UTRGV School of Medicine.

Classes will start later this year in the new $54 million building located on the north end of the UTRGV Edinburg Campus. It was meant to be.

Congratulations to the UT System Board of Regents, to our friends and partners in the Valley legislative delegations, and to our state leaders for the tenacity to make the School of Medicine a reality.

Since the announcement of the UTRGV School of Medicine, health care has been front and center.

Edinburg is now home to the first nationally-accredited cancer center in the Valley. Doctors Hospital at Renaissance is one of eight in South Texas to gain the distinction awarded by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons.

DHR also brought to Edinburg the Valley’s first Pediatric Cardiothocric Surgical Clinic, and it has also brought back local organ transplant opportunities for those in need of kidneys.

Huge for all of us – DHR has begun construction of a nine-story medical tower that will employ more than 500 new full-time workers, and DHR will be investing more than $180 million.

South Texas Health Systems opened a new emergency satellite hospital on University Drive, creating 40 jobs. STHS will be creating even more jobs with the planned expansion at Edinburg Regional Medical Center.

And while on the subject of health, Edinburg this past December was the first city in Hidalgo County to approved a 100 percent smoking ban in most businesses and public facilities.

No doubt, the medical and education sectors of our local community are booming and creating fantastic opportunities, but manufacturing activities are also in full swing.

SANTANA TEXTILES RENAMES MANUFACTURING COMPLEX TO “DENINBURG” AS MORE HOTELS COMING TO CITY

Santana Textiles inaugurated a long-awaited production start-up this past November.

With their permission, I announce today that the company has officially changed its name.

Santana Textiles, LLC will now operated in Texas as DENINBURG. Of course, that’s a play on words on the product they produce and Edinburg. They’ve already investing some $60 million in our community, and will be producing five different types of denim at this, their only North American facility. Congratulations to our friends at DENINBURG.

Edinburg is a Destination City for education, the medical corridor, county government, business, entertainment and recreation.

The hotel industry took notice.

The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation is working with local and national companies to bring more hotels.

The Qube Group is building a new Marriott TownPlace Suites prototype that will be the first of its kind in the country. The Qube Group is investing $10 million to build the hotel, guaranteeing 30 permanent full-time jobs.

The Wyndham Garden Hotel is joining the bustling commercial community at The Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley, with the hotel to be located just northeast of Burlington Coat Factory. The hotel group plans to build a four-story facility complete with 120 rooms, a restaurant, bar service, and meeting space, creating 40 new jobs.

On Closner Boulevard, Holiday Inn Express and Suites Hotel also opened for business in 2015, adding 81 rooms, a pool, patio area and two conference rooms, creating 30 new jobs. Next door, the Comfort Inn will be adding 50 rooms as part of a new Main Stay Suites.

And although I can’t reveal the name yet, another hotel and conference space is being developed on University Drive, directly across from the main entrance of UTRGV.

Hotels aren’t the only things going up in our city.

COMMERCIAL AND RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION REFLECT GROWING PROSPERITY

From last year (2015) to today (May 19, 2016), the Planning and Zoning Department has reviewed and approved $225 million in construction projects. Staff has issued 2,041 construction permits and 913 reconstruction permits.

One such company acquiring a reconstruction permit, for work valued at $5 million, is Carmike 20 Cinemas on I69 Central and Canton Road. Carmine is adding an IMAX theatre to its Edinburg location. It will be the company’s first IMAX theatre in the Rio Grande Valley. The nearest IMAX theatre is located in Corpus Christi, about 150 miles from Edinburg.

IMAX is the world’s most immersive movie experience with awe-inspiring images known to movie enthusiasts. Thank you, Carmike.

Residential development in Edinburg is exploding, from master-planned single family luxury developments to high-density, full amenity apartment complexes. Construction is booming.

In 2015, 594 apartment units were built in Edinburg, with three complexes along the city’s medical corridor and a fourth on Sugar Road near the university. Four hundred forty eight additional apartment units are under construction, as is a 150-home subdivision known as Jackson Heights Subdivision.

Jackson Heights Subdivision is located next to Canterbury Elementary at the corner of Jackson and Canton roads. That region represents one of the highest growth corridors for the city. It will feature homes in the $350,000 to $500,000 range, and will add more than $50 million to the city’s tax base once it is fully built out.

At the corner of 10th Street and State Highway 107, we have 115 acres of new mixed-use development about to break ground, as well as, off-campus student housing under development at Chapin and Sugar roads.

Another off-campus student housing complex, located at 4th and University Drive just behind the former UTRGV bookstore, is scheduled to go out for bids in August 2016.

Meanwhile, adjacent to that, we also have the Multi-Use Transit Facility that also is projected to go out for bids in August 2016, with construction scheduled to finish before the end of the yea. This facility will be home to Valley Metro, and we’re happy to welcome their regional hub to Edinburg.

The 35,000-square-foot Multi-Use Transit Facility will be a mixed-use project that will combine public and private transit services with office space and restaurants.

OTHER NEW AND PLANNED RESTAURANTS, RETAIL ASSETS

Speaking of restaurants, you asked for more so we (mayor and city council) worked with the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation to make that happen.

Earlier this year, we announced that Bob’s Steak & Chop House, which is continually recognized as one of the best steakhouses in the country, has chosen Edinburg to open its first restaurant south of San Antonio. Known for serving the best cuts of meat available, Bob’s will be located at The Shoppes as Rio Grande Valley.

The first Chick-fil-A opening in 2015 along University Drive, Within months of its opening day, it became one of the best performing locations in the Valley.

We also welcomed Luciano Neighborhood Pizzeria across from the newly-renamed UTRGV Baseball Stadium, a Carl’s Jr. on University Drive, a Green Ceviche, Firehouse Subs and Dunkin’ Donuts at the Marval Plaza on Trenton Road. A second Dunkin’ Donuts is coming to University Drive between City Hall and UTRGV.

Currently, The Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley is adding an A’GACI Fashion Store for young fashionistas, and an Encore Store specializing in footwear for men, women and children.

We’re excited to announce four new sit-down restaurants to include seafood, urban dining, and a gourmet restaurant with Mediterranean fusion flair, an outdoor kitchen, bar, and outdoor plaza, landscaped and designed to provide a comment dinning experience unlike any other in the Rio Grande Valley.

CITY PARKS, RECREATIONAL TRAILS PART OF QUALITY OF LIFE IN EDINBURG

While places to go, to eat, and to shop attract people, so do parks and other avenues where families can spend quality time outdoors.

That’s why we spent close to $3 million to crate the Jackson Road Hike and Bike Trail. This almost three-mile long trail runs from Chapin to Canton Road, part of the City’s Master Plan, that will eventually join with McAllen’s 2nd Street Trail.

It is complete and quite popular with walkers, runners and riders alike.

Edinburg added lays capes at Memorial Park, Norma Linda Park, and South Park for children to enjoy, and we added public restrooms at Cenizo and West parks.

CULTURAL ARTS KEY COMPONENT OF GROWTH

The Burns Brothers are helping us cultivate outdoor recreation and entertainment options by creating a retail, recreational and entertainment venue next to their expanding residential development on I69 Central, just north of Monte Cristo and Davis roads.

It is all part of a 726-acre planned La Sienna community and Resaca Market.

The Burns Brothers will invest $10 million to develop the project, which will include another cinematic venue in Edinburg. This theatre will feature a full bar and restaurant and unique entertainment events that currently do not exist anywhere else in the Rio Grande Valley.

Edinburg has invested millions of dollars to increase cultural arts opportunities in the form of performing arts, live performances and festivals, such as the South Texas International Film Festival and the ever-popular UFO Annual Conference.

Edinburg was recognized by the Mexican government for its continued support of our Mexican heritage by sponsoring the only three-day event in the region that highlights the richness of the Mexican people.

Along with constructing facilities and entertainment venues, we are conscientious to the infrastructure that is needed to accommodate more people and more vehicles.

BUILDING INFRASTRUCTURE, PROMOTING PUBLIC SAFETY FOR RESIDENTS

As City Councilmember David Torres said earlier, we are working on streets and we’ve taken serious steps in securing that the city has sufficient for today and for tomorrow.

Last March, we kicked of a $12.8 million expansion at the West Edinburg Water Plant in order to increase capacity. Currently, Edinburg services 24,000 connections, which amounts to 94 percent of the total 16 million gallons our two water plants can hold. This expansion will now give us a combined total of 26 million gallons per day.

I inform you today that the project is on track and scheduled to be completed in 580 days.

We all know that people want to live in a city that is safe.

Those of us on the Edinburg City Council are mindful of that, and we are making sure that our public safety agencies have the tools, training and support necessary to get the job done. I’m happy to report that we saw a 13.9 percent decrease in crime in 2015.

Our fire department is making history by helping create and manage the first-ever Texas Task Force in the Rio Grande Valley. Both of these facts are testament to the commitment of our Edinburg city government employees.

The Edinburg city government has 784 full-time employees. We are very appreciative of their passion to serve this community. They truly deserve recognition, our gratitude and our respect.

EDINBURG IS A PLACE “WITH A BIG HEART, A FIERCE SPIRIT, AND OUR EYES ON THE FUTURE”

I stand before you today, as Mayor, a public servant in this city. Edinburg is a place with a big heart, a fierce spirit, and with our eyes on the future – with resolve to make tomorrow better than today.

We do not run from our challenges – and we have had a few – we embrace them, we confront them together, as a family does. We do not shy away form opportunity; we reach for it.

I want to thank all our residents for your continued support for Edinburg. On behalf of the entire city council and myself, thank you for letting us serve you.

Here at the City of Edinburg, we work hard to reach and accomplish our goals. I like to think that we target the needs of our citizens regardless of their color, religion, income or social strata.

This is a presidential year and I would hope that we can expect the same from those that would lead us at the National level, be it in Congress or the White House.

Before I close I want to share some personal thoughts regarding that theme.

Please be assured that my thoughts are not intended to favor any political party or candidate, instead my words are food for thought and a reminder that there is no substitute for hard work to accomplish our goals. Some of my words are my own and some are borrowed.

I try to learn from others, especially from those who say it better.

As I said earlier, I am a history buff and I study history because I like a great story because it’s interesting, because it’s relevant.

LEARN FROM LESSONS OF HISTORY

The well-known saying is that “if you don’t study history you are destined to repeat it.” Well, most of us don’t, so life events, human events, pretty much mirror themselves every 50 to 100 years.

To me history gives me an explanation as to why things in my world are happening as they are. I’m going to relate to you a little history that I feel relates to today. My apologies if anyone is offended by this story but sometimes history is not kind. And sometimes the truth hurts.

Many years ago, when I was a child, a former President was involved in a presidential campaign and in strategy sessions regarding the vote in the South. Be it truth or rumor, the allegedly told his campaign strategists: “Tell the lowest White that he is better than the highest Black and he’ll follow you blindly – you can pick his pocket, you can rob him blind and he will thank you for it.”

An ugly racist thing to hear, and in deference to this former President, it was during his watch that integration finally became a reality, that segregation became illegal, and we all thought diversity and equality would be the new face of our Nation.

EMBRACE DIVERSITY AMONG THE PEOPLE

Today, as I look out into the audience I see varying shades of skin, I see diversity in culture, in religion, in customs, in ideas and I embrace it. So why is this relevant today?

Because ethnicity and diversity are once again at the very core of a Presidential election. But in my evaluation this all goes beyond the color of your skin, or your religious preference… at least for political purposes.

Today, as I watch the news mainstream within social media, I fear that a large segment of our society is ill.

That illness is fear.

That fear is cancerous.

That fear, like cancer, is spreading rapidly, within our citizenship and our governmental bodies. That fear causes men to belittle or denigrate others who were born differently or with a different color or with a different gender or religion.

It is hurting you, it is hurting and killing your children, it is damaging families. It hurls shrapnel in many directions – sometimes fatally and bringing an end to the lives of those people who are unfortunate enough to be in its blast radius.

REJECT “BACKWARD POLITICS”

Today’s backward politics nurture, protect and feed that fear and are hurting millions of us every day; calling out to lottery of genetics or fortune of birth and lending a blind eye to earned merit.

The fear of country of origin – the reality is that 63 percent of the mass shootings in the United States have been committed by men who are home grown.

History tells us that when our leadership feeds on fears and allows violence to raise its ugly head in an attempt to maintain social or political control, we are in trouble.

This is an important time in our country. A very, very important time. The period in our country will be highlighted in history books for generations to come.

Today, I think most of us still believe that education and hard work and not the color of your skin, or your choice of religion, or country of origin, are the formula for success.

I still believe in you, in us. In the America that our forefathers left their homeland for.

We have a path, a map and a destination. Equality and compassion will surely lead us all to success.

God Bless you and yours and for this one of a kind democracy we so proudly call ‘The United States of America.’

Thank you.

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For more information on the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation and the City of Edinburg, please log on to http://edinburgedc.com or to http://www.facebook.com/edinburgedc

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