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

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

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.

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.

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.

RGV Day was organized by the McAllen Chamber of Commerce.

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.

Other issues included Infrastructure, Workforce Development, Funding for the UTRGV School of Medicine in Edinburg, the Texas A&M Healthy South Texas Initiative, and the “Protect and Promote Us” Border Image Campaign, according to Gerry García, Vice President of Special Projects and Government Affairs for the McAllen Chamber of Commerce.

GOV. ABBOTT, LAND COMMISSIONER BUSH, WITH HISPANIC CONNECTIONS, GREET VALLEY DELEGATION AT STATE CAPITOL

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.

The fact that the Rio Grande Valley is comprised of an overwhelming Mexican American population was evidently more than enough for Abbott and Bush to greet the large delegation of more than 200 people, and pose for photographs with them on the front steps of the Texas Capitol.

The governor’s wife, Cecilia, is the first Hispanic First Lady since Texas became a state, according to her official biography. She is the granddaughter of immigrants from Mexico – Leonara and Augustine Segura – who settled in San Antonio before 1935 (http://www.politifact.com/texas/statements/2014/dec/22/greg-abbott/greg-abbott-my-wife-going-be-first-hispanic-first-/).

As for Bush’s roots, his mother, Columba Garnica Callo, who is married to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Mexico, and currently devotes much of her life to philanthropy (http://www.ibtimes.com/who-columba-bush-meet-jeb-bushs-wife-potential-first-lady-2016-1967692).

Identical legislative resolutions approved in the Senate and House of Representatives provided more insights into the importance of the Rio Grande Valley to the well-being of Texas.

With a population of more than 1.5 million, the four-county area is “a vibrant region with a rich heritage, the Rio Grande Valley is poised to take advantage of tremendous opportunities for continued economic development,” noted the resolutions, whose primary authors in the Senate and in the House were Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville.

On one key aspect alone – commerce – “the region contributed significantly to the tremendous increase in commerce across the U.S.-Mexico border; with over 800,000 trucks, 11.5 million cars, and 5.8 million pedestrians crossing its ports of entry. The Rio Grande Valley is a powerhouse that accounts for more than $1.3 billion in goods and services added to the economy of the Lone Star State each day,” Hinojosa noted in the Senate resolution.

In general, commerce means exchange of goods and services between the parties along with the activities such as insurance, transportation, warehousing, advertising etc that completes that exchange. Read more: http://keydifferences.com/difference-between-trade-and-commerce.html#ixzz4YVcHs9x5

REP. CANALES: “SOUTH TEXAS IS NOT A WAR ZONE, IT’S A TRADE ZONE; IT’S NOT A THIRD-WORLD COUNTRY, IT IS THE LIFE BLOOD OF OUR COUNTRY.”

In joining his fellow lawmakers from the Valley, Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, took to the front podium on the floor of the House of Representative to update the public, including many of the new state representatives, about the Rio Grande Valley.

While focusing on the positive aspects of his home region, the House District 40 lawmaker also sought to correct stereotypes of the area, particularly the impression, generated by some in the national news media, that the violence of the Mexican drug war is resulting in gun battles in the streets between law enforcement and criminals on the Texas side of the border.

“South Texas is not a war zone, it’s a trade zone,” Canales said. ““It’s not a third-world country, it is the life blood of our country. I tell you today, if you invest in South Texas, you invest in our (Texas’) future.”

According to the House Research Organization, an arm of the Texas House of Representatives which provides detailed legislative reports to lawmakers and the public:

“Total state funding for border security for fiscal 2016-17 was $800 million, according to the Legislative Budget Board (LBB). The funds were appropriated to six state agencies, with the Department of Public Safety (DPS) receiving $749.8 million. A portion of that went to recruit, train, and equip 250 more troopers. In its 2018-19 budget request, DPS asked for an increase in that amount of almost $300 million for border security efforts. The new funds would pay for 250 more troopers and several other items, including 5,000 more cameras and other equipment and technology, and to replace two helicopters and four planes.”

According to its website:

The 10-member Legislative Budget Board (LBB) was created by statute in 1949. The primary purpose of the Board is the development of recommended legislative appropriations for all agencies of state government. The Board provides the Texas Legislature with the recommended state budget, prepared by the LBB staff, at the beginning of each legislative session, which occurs in early January of odd-numbered years. The Board’s authority is broad and its influence on state government spending is significant. The composition of the Legislative Budget Board is specified by statute, and is co-chaired by the Lieutenant Governor and the Speaker of the House.

Canales proposes that some of the money for border security go instead for jobs-creation projects, improved infrastructure, and other state programs that will continue to generate economic growth in the Valley.

“I would like that we be more inclined to help the economic state of Texas rather than buy gunboats for the Rio Grande River,” the Edinburg attorney said. “Rather than denigrate the border, you need to secure the border, and the border will secure Texas by driving our economy. I ask you to see South Texas for what it is – an economic engine that will further us greater than you can imagine.”

$25 MILLION IN STATE FUNDS SOUGHT FOR POSITIVE PUBLICITY FOR THE VALLEY

According to the Rio Grande Guardian (RioGrandeGuardian.com), the online news media outlet that features international news and its impact on deep South Texas, Valley leaders are seeking $25 million from the state to accurately portray the four-county region which borders Mexico.

Steve Alhenius, President and CEO of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, on Thursday, January 12, 2017, explained the reasons for seeking state money for a public information/public relations campaign on behalf of the Valley.

“Everybody is familiar with the debate going on about the $800 million for border security. What we have said is, yes, that is important to the rest of the state but there is an opportunity here, out of that $800 million, for the state to set aside $25 million for promotion by economic development entities, EDCs, chambers of commerce and other entities in the Rio Grande Valley, so they could use that money with a one-to-one matching fund to promote their communities or their economic development,” Ahlenius was quoted by the Rio Grande Guardian. “Not only does the state want to protect the border, we get that, but it gives us a chance to tell our story.” (http://riograndeguardian.com/rgv-launches-protect-promote-us-campaign/)

The Rio Grande Guardian provided details of the proposed $25 million investment promoted by Alhenius:

• Matching funds for out of state tourism and business promotional activities by Rio Grande Valley non-profits, Convention Visitors Bureaus, and economic development marketing organizations;

• Familiarization Tours of the Rio Grande Valley for Texas, U.S. and International media;

• State Funding for Tourism Oriented Directional Signs for the Rio Grande Valley;

• State sponsored promotion of the Rio Grande Valley ports of entry for use in importing and exporting products and merchandize;

• State sponsored promotion of the Rio Grande Valley as a prime nature and eco-tourism destination; and

• State sponsored promotion of the Rio Grande Valley as a year-round active tourism destination.

“WE ARE TEXAS”

Canales noted that for some state lawmakers, when they think about the Valley, they believe spending more money on “border security” is best or Texas.

“South Texas, like every one of your districts, faces unique challenges, and we are prepared to face those challenges with every Member of the House of Representatives. But don’t miss the forest for the trees, Members. We must focus on the economic engine that is South Texas,” Canales continued.

He acknowledged that for many people, “our tourist mecca that is South Padre Island” is the most visible image of deep South Texas.

But he added there is much more to the region, which has become a modern metropolis in its own right, “from Space X’s rocket facility at Boca Chica Beach, to some of the largest ports of entry, like the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, which puts produce on almost every supermarket in Texas and the United States, to Edinburg, home to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, which is the second-largest Hispanic-serving higher education institution in the nation, and home of our newest medical school that this very legislative body created.”

“We sit strategically near untapped oil and gas shales. Our wind turbines are turning the Rio Grande Valley into a renewable energy generation giant for this state,” Canales continued.

“I represent the City of Pharr with Rep. Sergio Muñoz (D-Pharr). That bridge is the busiest port of entry. Sixty percent of all produce enters our country through that bridge. With just a small part of the money we have allocated for border security, we can better connect that bridge to the rest of the Rio Grande Valley so that produce can better reach our country and further our goals,” he recommended.

“Those are smart investments. I would like this body that we are more inclined to help the economic state of Texas rather than buy gunboats for the Rio Grande River,” Canales concluded his remarks before the House of Representatives. “As you welcome South Texans in the gallery, welcome them not only with your applause but with your actions, for the border is your issues, and our issues are your issues. We are Texas.”

LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION CELEBRATING RIO GRANDE VALLEY DAY AT THE STATE CAPITOL

WHEREAS, A distinguished delegation from South Texas is visiting Austin on February 7, 2017, to celebrate Rio Grande Valley Day at the State Capitol; and

WHEREAS, Enjoying a strategic location on the Gulf of Mexico and along the Mexican border, the Rio Grande Valley was an important ranching region when Texas became the nation’s 28th state in 1845; over time, the economy shifted from ranching to agriculture, and the Valley became the state’s center of citrus and vegetable production; and

WHEREAS, Industry flourished in the 1960s, and the region contributed significantly to the tremendous increase in commerce across the U.S.-Mexico border; with over 800,000 trucks, 11.5 million cars, and 5.8 million pedestrians crossing its ports of entry, the Rio Grande Valley is a powerhouse that accounts for more than $1.3 billion in goods and services added to the economy of the Lone Star State each day; and

WHEREAS, The Valley has over 1.5 million residents, and local and state officials have focused on the need to expand access to higher education, strengthen the workforce, and introduce programs, such as SpaceX, which partnered with The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to create STARGATE, a program that enables students to be involved in all aspects of space missions; furthermore, in July 2016, the new UTRGV Medical School enrolled its first class of 55 medical students; and

WHEREAS, The Texas A&M University System officially broke ground in December 2016 to expand in McAllen with a campus that will offer programs in engineering, technology, agriculture, and biomedical and lab sciences; and

WHEREAS, The focus for today’s special legislative event is workforce development, transportation and border infrastructure, UTRGV Medical School funding, the Texas A&M Healthy South Texas initiative, and the Rio Grande Valley border image; major sponsors include The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Texas A&M University, South Texas College, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Foundation, the Cities of McAllen, Edinburg, Harlingen, and Weslaco, the Starr County Industrial Foundation, the Port of Brownsville, Rio Grande Valley Partnership, McAllen Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Edinburg, Weslaco, and McAllen Chambers of Commerce, Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation, the McAllen Public Utility Board, the Economic Development Corporations of Edinburg, Mission, McAllen, Harlingen, Weslaco, and Pharr, Rio South Texas Economic Council, McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, Anzalduas International Bridge, and the Food Bank of the RGV; furthermore, several private sector businesses, such as Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP, the Warren Group Architects, Shepard Walton King, the Monitor, LRGVDC Regional, Small Cities Coalition, Texas Gas Service, BBVA Compass Bank, and IBC Bank, are helping to promote greater regional cooperation in the 21st century; and

WHEREAS, A vibrant region with a rich heritage, the Rio Grande Valley is poised to take advantage of tremendous opportunities for continued economic development, and it is indeed most fitting to honor Valley residents for their dedication to building a bright and prosperous future for the area; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives of the 85th Texas Legislature hereby recognize February 7, 2017, as Rio Grande Valley Day at the State Capitol and extend to all participants sincere best wishes for an informative and enjoyable visit.

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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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