Featured, from left: Sonia Marroquín, Assistant City Manager, Myra Ayala Garza, City Secretary, and Ascensión Alonzo, Director of Finance, who all work for the City of Edinburg. The City Finance Department reports that Edinburg’s local retail economy in 2015 grew almost eight percent over the previous 12-month period in 2014. Local sales taxes in 2015 were $20,386,379, an increase of 7.65 percent over the 2014 total of $18,937,282.
Photograph By MARK MONTEMAYOR
Construction and related building activities in Edinburg totaled almost $20 million during March 2016, bringing the total value of construction activities in the city to almost $65.2 million during the first three months of the year, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. Combined, building permits from January through March 2016 were issued for work valued at $65,173,203, compared with $41,367,340 for the same period in 2015. During March 2016, building permits for work valued at $19,710,781 were issued by the city, compared with $11,888,509 in March 2015.
Featured: Dr. Shervin Fatehi, left, and Dr. Javier Macossay examine a 3D-printed heart at their research lab in the Science Building on the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley campus in Edinburg. They recently were awarded a grant from startup company New Matter. The Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, along with the City of Edinburg, promote the best interests of UTRGV and the UTRGV School of Medicine through its extensive legislative lobbying efforts before the UT System Board of Regents, the Texas Legislature, and Congress.
Photograph By KRISTEN GARZA
Edinburg’s unemployment rate for March 2016 of 4.7 percent marked the third consecutive month that the city posted a monthly figure of less than five percent, with McAllen being the only other Valley city in that category, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. Edinburg’s March 2016 figure of 4.7 percent is the best showing for that month in almost a decade, when the city posted a 4.4 percent unemployment rate in March 2008.
Featured: An illustration of the proposed $150 million Hidalgo County Courthouse which would be built in downtown Edinburg, and, weather permitting, be completed by October 2018.
Graphics Courtesy ERO ARCHITECTS
The City of Edinburg would contribute a total of $30 million towards the construction of a $150 million, six-story Hidalgo County Courthouse, which would reshape and revitalize the city’s historic downtown, under an initial agreement authorized by the Mayor and Edinburg City Council on Monday, February 8, 2016, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. The EEDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The EEDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mark Iglesias as President, Harvey Rodríguez as Vice President, Ellie M. Torres as Secretary/Treasurer, and Mayor Richard García and Richard Ruppert as Members. Richard García and Agustín García, Jr. are not related. If all goes as planned, work could begin on the new courthouse before the end of this year, with a completion date of October 2018, weather permitting. The existing courthouse would continue to function while the new facility is being built. The $30 million city contribution would not result in any city property tax rate increase or take funding away from other major city projects, Mayor García said following the joint work session, which began at 2 p.m. at Edinburg City Hall. “After hearing from our financial advisors, I feel very comfortable that we’re in a sound financial situation, where we can contribute to this worthy project, without raising taxes and without it affecting the other projects we have going on around town,” he told the Edinburg Cable Network. The mayor added that Edinburg hasn’t raised city property taxes in 21 years and he doesn’t plan to start raising them now. In addition to Mayor García, Mayor Pro Tem Homer Jasso, Jr., Councilmember Richard Molina, and Councilmember David Torres participated in the event. Councilmember J.R. Betancourt was excused on important business. Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García, Precinct 1 County Commissioner A.C. Cuellar of Weslaco, and Precinct 4 County Commissioner Joseph Palacios of Edinburg represented the commissioners court. Precinct 2 County Commissioner Eduardo “Eddie” Cantú of Pharr and Precinct 3 County Commissioner Joe Flores of Mission were excused on important business. Mayor Richard García and Hidalgo County Judge Ramón García are not related. Final details for the courthouse project, as well as the formal signing of an interlocal agreement setting out the financial contribution by Edinburg, are both scheduled for a joint session on Tuesday, March 8, of the Edinburg City Council and the Hidalgo County Commissioners Court. During the Monday, February 8 joint work session, the city and county leaders reviewed the architectural and financing details provided, respectively, by Eli Ochoa, PE, AIA, who is Partner and Architect with ERO Architects of McAllen, and Noé Hinojosa, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer for Estrada • Hinojosa Investment Bankers of Dallas, which is the city’s financial consultant. “This is a historic moment in our county’s history,” the county judge said in his opening remarks during the joint work session. “We are here today to discuss the possibility of entering into an agreement with the City of Edinburg to properly fund an adequate courthouse to provide safety and security for our constituents, our residents of Hidalgo County.” Edinburg city officials are optimistic that the new courthouse complex is on the right track. Mayor Pro Tem Jasso said key issues relating to the planned courthouse complex have been resolved for him. “From the time we began this, I am really happy with the outcome, with what we have today,” said Jasso. “Eli (Ochoa) has addressed many of our concerns, such as the facade of the building, the landscaping. I am really looking to moving forward.” Councilmember Molina, who also serves on the Edinburg Planning and Zoning Commission, predicted the new courthouse complex will have a beneficial impact that will help businesses located along East University Drive and beyond. “We have been trying to help the east side of Edinburg, and when people see this mammoth building all the way from the expressway (Interstate Highway 69C), it’s going to catch people’s attention,” said Molina. “We are going to have all kinds of businesses go up in the area.”
Featured, from left: Agustín García, Jr., Executive Director, Edinburg Economic Development Corporation; Mayor Richard García; Claudio Motta, Operations Manager, Santana Textiles; R. Delfino Neto, President, Santana Textiles; Roberto Cantú, Chief Executive Officer, Santana Textiles, and Leticia Flores, Office of Texas Governor Greg Abbott. They were among a large contingent of political, business and community leaders who participate in the ribbon cutting, held on Thursday, November 19, 2015, celebrating the start of the first phase of a corporate investment of $50 million in north Edinburg.
Photograph By DIEGO REYNA
For the second consecutive month this year, Edinburg and McAllen shared the lowest unemployment rate among the Valley’s major economies, both coming in at 4.9 percent for October 2019, which also was the best showing for Edinburg for that month since October 2008, which also posted a 4.9 percent figure, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. The EEDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The EEDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mark Iglesias as President, Harvey Rodríguez as Vice President, Ellie M. Torres as Secretary/Treasurer, and Mayor Richard García and Richard Ruppert as Members. Richard García and Agustín García, Jr. are not related. Also according to the latest data, which was released on Friday, November 20, 2015 by the Texas Workforce Commission, there were more than 35,000 people employed in Edinburg during the month of October 2015. The unemployment rate is a key indicator of the strength of the local economy. Edinburg’s latest showing was better than the U.S. unemployment rate for September 2015, which came in at 5 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000). Edinburg’s October 2015 figure of 4.9 percent continues a year-long pattern of positive reports: September (4.9 percent); August (5.1 percent); July (5.4 percent); June (5.1 percent); May 2015 (4.8 percent); April 2015 (4.6 percent); March 2015 (4.8 percent); February 2015 (4.8 percent); and January (5.1 percent). EEDC Board President Iglesias said new businesses, both small and large, continue to build or locate in Edinburg, which will result in continued job creation in the city.“On November 17, 2015, the Marriott Towne Place Suites broke ground near the intersection of Trenton Road and and I69,” Iglesias said. “This four-story, 95-room hotel represents a $10 million investment and will create 20 to 30 full time jobs when it opens for business in the fall of 2016, the same time the the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine in Edinburg begins its first semester – and with it, create more jobs as well.” In another related development, the Thursday, November 19, 2015 ribbon-cutting ceremony for Santana Textiles will lead to the creation of 300 high-paying jobs, according to the economic development contract signed by Santana Textiles with the EEDC. Agustín García, Jr., Executive Director for the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, noted the importance of the project for the entire community, including farmers, the region’s university and South Texas College. The project also garnered a contribution of more than $1 million from the Texas Governor’s Office. The massive operation, with production buildings longer than a football field, is the only one of its type in Texas. Mayor García called it one of the city’s crown jewels, joining the list of ongoing projects such as the Bert Ogden Arena and a soccer stadium as well as the regional medical school and university. “These are investments that are calculated, studied. This investment right here was very minimal,” the mayor said of the city’s financial contribution, explaining Edinburg is expected to see a $284 million annual return via its economic impact. The Edinburg Santana Textiles facility is expected to become the largest in the country when it begins denim production. Despite challenging conditions in Brazil, the family-owned enterprise has thrived and is now able to use cotton grown in the Edinburg facility’s own region, which also creates additional indirect jobs. “The good news is they’re also very cognizant of our community; very compassionate about the people that live here and they’re very careful to be hiring across the board,” said Mayor García. “They hire veterans. They hire mobility-impaired individuals. They hire a cross-section of the community.”
Featured: City Councilmember Richard Molina, left, and City Manager Ramiro Garza, Jr. review key economic achievements and goals for Edinburg following the State of the City Address, delivered by Mayor Richard García on Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at the Edinburg City Auditorium. In the background are Irma Garza, Director of Public Information for the City of Edinburg, and Edinburg Councilmember David Torres.
Photograph By RONNIE LARRALDE
Edinburg’s retail economy from January through September 2015 is more than seven percent ahead of the same period last year, a figure that is better than the statewide average of all Texas cities, which came in with a 4.1 percent improvement when comparing the same nine-month periods, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation has announced. The EEDC, of which Agustín García, Jr. is Executive Director, is the jobs-creation arm of the Edinburg Mayor and Edinburg City Council. The EEDC Board of Directors is comprised of Mark Iglesias as President, Harvey Rodríguez as Vice President, Ellie M. Torres as Secretary/Treasurer, and Mayor Richard García and Richard Ruppert as Members. For the month of September 2015, the city’s retail economy registered a 10.98 percent rate of improvement over the same month last year, the EEDC added, according to data released on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. Among its many duties, the Texas Comptroller’s office is the state’s chief tax collector, accountant, revenue estimator and treasurer. The 10.98 percent increase over the same month last year was the best showing among the Valley’s larger economies. During the first nine months of 2015, Edinburg’s retail economy produced $18,676,992.00 in local sales taxes, compared with $17,433,497.27 for January through September 2014, resulting in the improvement of 7.13 percent. During September 2015, the city’s retail economy generated $1,864,640.98 in local sales taxes, compared with $1,680,118.10 for September 2014, representing the improvement of almost 11 percent, also according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. The local sales tax is used in Edinburg to help pay for many city services, while the EEDC uses its one-half cent local sales tax to help generate economic development in the city. 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 sales tax, formally known as the State Sales and Use Tax, is imposed on all retail sales, leases and rentals of most goods, as well as taxable services. Texas cities, counties, transit authorities and special purpose districts have the option of imposing an additional local sales tax for a combined total of state and local taxes of 8 1/4% (.0825). In another development that benefits the Edinburg economy – the upcoming Fall 2016 opening of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine – area leaders on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 announced that the Edinburg-based medical school will join leading medical schools throughout the country in determining best practices for the future of medical education. The School of Medicine has been accepted into the American Medical Association Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium and received a three-year, $75,000 grant to implement a program to help its first cohort of students develop strong communication skills. “Acceptance into this prestigious consortium is evidence of the important role the UTRGV School of Medicine will play in promoting change through innovation in medical and health education,” said Dr. Francisco Fernández, inaugural Dean of the School of Medicine. “Drs. Arden Dingle and Valerie Terry have taken a large step forward with this project, which promotes and improves the communicative skills of students showing the usefulness of an early-offered intervention on patient-physician communication within our medical curriculum. We look forward to seeing the results of their work and congratulate them on their participation in the consortium,” he said. The grant project, “Using Technology to Enhance the Pedagogy of Interpersonal Communication in Medicine,” involves having medical students use computer tablets to log patients’ oral histories, record group interactions and document other interpersonal interactions in a variety of activities, including some of the School of Medicine’s interprofessional initiatives.