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Valley university merger and med school passes Senate

May 22, 2013

Now it's on to the governor's office.

State senators Thursday evening unanimously passed the bill that would merge the University of Texas-Pan American and University of Texas-Brownsville. The bill, SB 24, also calls for the creation of a medical school in Cameron and Hidalgo counties.

The final version of the bill calls for the administrative offices and the first two years of the medical school to be in Hidalgo County, while the second two years of the program will be held at the Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen.

The legislation now heads to Gov. Rick Perry's office to be signed into law.

The legislation allows the new university to tap into the Permanent University Fund, a $13.9 billion endowment paid by oil and gas revenues that goes toward construction of new buildings and facilities in the University of Texas and Texas A&M systems.

State representatives Friday passed HB 1000, the partner bill in the House.

Written by Jared Taylor | The Monitor

To read the original articale on The Monitor click here.


Gatherings christen I-69 as signs unveiled

July 16, 2013

HARLINGEN — Hundreds of dignitaries, local officials and supporters traveled the newly named Interstate 69 corridor in the Rio Grande Valley for unveiling ceremonies Monday morning in Harlingen and in Pharr.

The Texas Department of Transportation on officially unveiled signs designating more than 100 miles of South Texas roadways as part of the Interstate Highway System.Fifty-three miles of the former U.S. Highway 77, from Raymondville to Brownsville, will now be 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.

Ultimately, I-69 will be a 1,600-mile highway, stretching from Texas to Michigan.Officials said recent legislative changes made the project possible after years of planning.

“This has been a 20-year project in a sense that 20 years ago the I-69 coalitions came together,” said Phil Wilson, TxDOT’s executive director. “It used to be in the past the whole interstate (highway) had to be done and connected to an interstate. Now they have changed that and we are able to do 100 miles like this at a time.”Wilson said more than $700 million spread across 36 different projects have been spent to improve the designated highways to Interstate standards.

As more resources become available, he said, additional I-69 designations can be made and tacked on to the now existing interstate highway.The Interstate 69 designation opens up economic opportunities through international trade, future businesses, and tourism, officials said.“This I-69 designation is the beginning of so much for South Texas,” former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson said. “This is going to open up Texas. It is going to be the corridor that brings goods from South America, Mexico, all the way through Texas into the United States and into Canada. We’ve got so much opportunity that started right here today.”

Infrastructure improvements like the I-69 corridor help the local quality of life for residents and improve trade, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo. “Anytime you have infrastructure improvements like this it helps the economy, it helps the quality of life, but especially the trade. Every day there is $1.2 billion of trade between the U.S. and Mexico,” Cuellar said. “A lot of it comes through South Texas.

This is where the growth is and it’s going to continue with Mexico. That’s why this infrastructure is so important, not only the trade but retail and tourism also.”State Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, said the newly designated interstate highway may also bring business opportunities to the region.“This is something that we have been waiting for so long to improve our communications, to be able to take advantage of the development that has to take place economically in our part of the state,” Lucio said. “That will establish the necessary jobs and bring in businesses that will attract people from other parts of the state and country to come here.”

To read the original articale on The Monitor click here.

Written by: Jesse Mendoza | Valley Morning Star | jmendoza@valleystar.com


 Bird Lovers Fly South: Nature Tourism in Rio South Texas Generates $300 Million Annually

September 2011 - One of America’s most vibrant “birding hotspots” is Rio South Texas; a tropical paradise with almost 500 recorded species of bird. The huge number of bird species, alongside the region’s large tracts of nature preserves and ranch land, is attracting a new color to kaleidoscopic Rio South Texas: green! Each year, this border region brings in more than $300 million from nature loving tourists, who flock in from all over the world to view the majesty of the Western Wood-Pewee, fish the Laguna Madre, or go bow hunting for wild Javelina.

This finding comes off the back of a study recently conducted by Texas A&M University’s Department of Recreation, Park & Tourism Sciences and Department of Agricultural Economics. Nature tourism has long been an important focal point for the area’s visitor bureaus, and the study’s results demonstrate that these efforts are paying dividends.  In addition to the influx of cash that nature tourists bring to Rio South Texas, these nature lovers also boost local employment. The study estimates more 4,407 full- and part-time jobs are directly attributable to nature tourism. Given that the survey was conducted during the off-peak season for nature tourism, the resulting figures are likely conservative estimates.  

Rio South Texas Economic Council (RSTEC) member and CEO of the Mission Area Chamber of Commerce, Matt Ruszcazak, believes sustainable growth is an important balancing act: “It’s tempting to clear every piece of land for development when your economy is booming like ours, but the benefits that come from caring for nature corridors can also have an impressive and positive economic impact for our area.” “Once you’ve watched a Yellow-Bellied Kiskadee chase off a Peregrine Falcon, it’s pretty easy to get hooked,” grins Ruszcazak. “This study makes it clear just how positive nature tourism is on a financial level; it’s effects not only apparent today, but also set to bring great advantages for the region in future years.” 

RSTEC brings together the region’s economic development organizations with a unified, clear vision focused on fostering expansion and relocation efforts by companies seeking an attractive business environment. The Council also works toward furthering educational opportunities in the region to boost the area and provide local companies with a workforce of highly educated individuals.



Demand for bilingual workers creating hundreds of new jobs along border

Rio South Texas region lands another large call center

August 31, 2011, Edinburg, TX – Citing demand for a bilingual workforce, Maximus, Inc. has just opened a new customer contact center in Edinburg, Texas, along the US/Mexico border. Up to 400 local job-seekers are expected to be hired by the end of 2012.

Edinburg is one of the communities that make up Rio South Texas, a rapidly growing metro region in the southernmost tip of Texas. Of the approximately 1.2 million residents, the majority are bilingual, making the region a popular locale for a variety of call centers, BPOs, and other commercial, retail and industrial activities.

“As the Hispanic population continues to grow rapidly in the U.S., the related needs for that population grow as well. Boasting a workforce that can fluently engage individuals in either English or Spanish is a huge plus for this area,” says Raudel Garza, Executive Director with Rio South Texas Economic Council.

Maximus is not the first major employer to discover the benefits of finding commercial real estate in Rio South Texas. T-Mobile, Convergys, United Health Care, Time Warner Cable, Teleperformance, Infinity Insurance, Advanced Call Center Technologies, Penncro, and others have large facilities in the region.  There are over 8,800 call center employees here.

“We have a young abundant workforce with a strong work ethic. Almost all of the children being raised here grow up hearing and speaking two languages, and most residents can easily and comfortably converse in both English and Spanish,” says Nelda Ramirez, Edinburg EDC’s Executive Director.  

A bilingual workforce is just one of many reasons the region has blossomed into one of the most attractive areas in America for back office operations. The past decade has witnessed unprecedented growth in population, job growth, and investment in the region.  

Maximus is a leading provider of government services worldwide, and the Edinburg contact center will begin assisting Texans who call 2-1-1, beginning on September 6, 2011.

The Rio South Texas Economic Council (RSTEC) has brought together the region’s Economic Development organizations with a unified, clear vision focused on fostering expansion and relocation efforts by companies seeking an attractive business environment, and furthering educational opportunities to boost the area. For more information regarding the Rio South Texas region, and to learn how RSTEC can help you, visit www.RioSouthTexas.com, or call 1-888-778-3201.



Affordable College a Reality in South Texas Border Region

Increasing Graduation Rates Make Region’s Labor Force Attractive to Business

August 10, 2011, Edinburg TX - College bound students are flocking in South Texas, but it’s not just for the sandy beaches of South Padre Island. Students are finding low tuition fees and an array of choices for an affordable higher education. The “Rio South Texas” region is home to two of the five most affordable colleges in the nation, according to lists released by the U.S. Department of Education in early July. South Texas College ranked number three, while The University of Texas - Pan American ranked number five on the list of the most affordable public four-year schools. Another recent accolade was given by Diverse Issues in Higher Education - a publication focusing on minority education - ranking South Texas College number one in the nation in awarding associate degrees to Hispanic students in the fields of biomedical sciences, engineering, and mathematics and statistics.

“An affordable college education provides a talented and diversified workforce which matters to our businesses and prospects,” Miki McCarthy, RSTEC Chair explains. “Rio South Texas Economic Council (RSTEC) is proud to have both UTPA and STC as members of our organization and we congratulate these institutions for all of the contributions, accolades and recognition they bring to our region.”

Already one of the most attractive areas in America for business, the last decade has seen unprecedented growth in population and investment, and schools in the region are consistently recognized at the national level.  

“Here in Rio South Texas, higher education institutes are working closely together with both NAAMREI and RSTEC to provide a highly skilled and globally competitive workforce,” said Wanda Garza, Executive Officer of NAAMREI. “We strive to offer the most affordable education and training programs throughout the region that meets world-class industry standards.” NAAMREI - the North American Advanced Manufacturing Research and Education Initiative - is devoted to positioning the region as the Rapid Response Advanced Manufacturing hub in North America.

Rio South Texas Economic Council (RSTEC) members share a unified vision focused on fostering expansion and relocation efforts by companies seeking a better business environment. The Rio South Texas Economic Council also provides information on commercial and industrial properties, incentives, and other decision-making criteria to assist site selection consultants and real estate brokers. For more information on the Rio South Texas region and to learn how RSTEC can help you, visit www.RioSouthTexas.com or call 1-888-778-3201.


Even Green Energy Wind Farms are Bigger in Texas

Three planned Rio South Texas wind farms could power more than a million homes.

June 17, 2011

Edinburg, June 16 - Texas has a global reputation for being home to major oil and natural gas fields, but the winds of change have brought a new energy player to the Lone Star State; wind energy. Baryonyx Corporation, of Austin, Texas, has announced submission of applications for three wind energy sites in South Texas to the US Army Corps of Engineers. The wind farms are planned for development across more than 60,000 acres of submerged land under lease from the Texas General Land Office and, if fully developed, could have an installed capacity of up to 3GW – enough electricity to power around 1.2 million homes.

“Offshore wind represents a tremendous opportunity for Texas to bring its long history of offshore engineering, design, fabrication and installation to bear on the nascent offshore wind industry,” says Ian Hatton, CEO of Baryonyx Corporation.

“For the last few years, RSTEC has invested time and money on attracting renewable energy companies into the area. Along with Duke Energy’s proposed wind farm in Willacy County, and other proposed wind farms, our region has a great opportunity to capitalize on these multi-million dollar investments,” stated Raudel Garza, Executive Director for RSTEC.

In addition, RSTEC is also actively working with other companies that will compliment the wind farm project. “These wind projects represent a huge employment and investment potential for Rio South Texas, if we can focus on attraction of component manufacturers for the turbines and towers and other equipment,” says RSTEC member Eduardo A. Campirano, CEO and Port Director of the Port of Brownsville. “RSTEC just returned from the AWEA WindPower 2011 Show in California, and discovered many companies interested
in the Rio South Texas region.”

Located at the southernmost tip of Texas, bordering Mexico along the Rio Grande River, the Rio South Texas area offers an ideal location for companies seeking access to Mexico and the U.S. South and Midwest markets. RSTEC is dedicated to the promotion of new business opportunities and job creation through private investment in the region, and welcome the Baryonyx wind farms to our prospering region.


Foreign Investors Relocating to South Texas Region

May 12, 2011

Edinburg, TX – Foreign investors are flocking to a booming region along the US/Mexico border known as Rio South Texas. Located at the southernmost tip of Texas, the region exploded in population and economic growth following the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in the early 1990s. In 2002, the US Government started the EB-5 program (Employment-Based Immigration: Fifth Preference) to attract foreign investment and to create more jobs.  
With the major manufacturing cities of Monterrey, Matamoros, Rio Bravo and Reynosa, Mexico, across the Rio Grande from Rio South Texas, investors are discovering and creating business opportunities in this new market region.  Always known as a tourist and sporting destination, the Rio South Texas region is now becoming even more attractive to Mexican investors.
The USA NOW Regional Center, located in McAllen Texas, is a newly-designated government entity designed to assist investors through the process of obtaining a Visa through  the EB-5 program. A recent influx of foreign investors created an increased demand for projects with investment opportunity.  USA NOW, LLC handles residency and immigration logistics for investors, and has now partnered with Rio South Texas Economic Council (RSTEC) to assist in identifying sites and properties for their investors. Some investors already own businesses. Some would like to start one and are in a position to do so, and that is where the USA NOW partnership with RSTEC will be of the most help.
“Our partnership with Rio South Texas Economic Council fits like a glove,” said Marco Ramirez, President of USA NOW, LLC. “RSTEC is in the business of creating jobs and attracting new capital investment; we have manufacturers interested in the area. RSTEC is unbiased in selecting sites, presenting the best of the entire region, and that’s what we need.”
“We are very excited to work with USA NOW and other EB5 Regional Centers that will be created in this area,” said Raudel Garza, Executive Director of RSTEC. “This partnership is just another example of how the private and public sectors can work cooperatively.”
Parties interested in more information are encouraged to contact RSTEC. Rio South Texas Economic Council is dedicated to the promotion of new business opportunities and job creation through private investment in the region.



Boomtown, USA - The Rio South Texas

March 21, 2011

         What a difference a decade makes.  As the 2010 Census results continue to be released, clear lines are being drawn between the big winners and losers. One place that tops the list in growth is a new metro region in the southern tip of Texas called Rio South Texas.    

        Already known for being one of the safest regions in the country, being one of the top areas for job growth and one of the most affordable areas for living, Rio South Texas can add to that mantle of recognition. The recent 2010 Census shows that the population growth in this formerly quiet region has been immense, with a 22.6 percent increase in the four county-region of Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy. The city of McAllen population jumped 22.3% to 129,877.  The bordering community of Edinburg grew an astounding 57.8% to 77,100 and the neighboring city of Mission now has 77,058 after growing population roles by a nearly unheard of 67.8% in ten years. Alton's population grew by an amazing 181.5 percent.

        Rio South Texas has grown from a bunch of little border towns into what some would call America’s newest big city.  Rio South Texas now has everything you would expect to find in a large city, with multiple award-winning hospitals, and all the major chain stores and restaurants.  New companies continue to announce that they are coming to the region on an almost daily basis. Bass Pro Shops just recently announced it is building a new multimillion-dollar store in Harlingen, Texas.

        “You can see from the numbers,” Alma Colleli, Vice Chair of RSTEC and Executive Director of San Benito EDC. “The region is growing and the members of RSTEC here have been great at working together to bring business to this area.  The Rio South Texas region is the largest border region in America, the third largest market in Texas, and the 23rd largest market in the U.S.”

        Rio South Texas Economic Council is dedicated to the promotion of new business opportunities and job creation through private investment in the region.

Rio South Texas Cities Making Top Rank

February 14, 2011

Recent national lists regarding job growth, safety and cost of living, among others, have ranked cities in the Rio South Texas region among the top, proving this growing region has much to offer those wishing to invest and relocate here.

Farmers Insurance Group's Most Secure U.S. Places to Live for 2010 ranked the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSA 14th on their list for Large Metropolitan areas. This ranking included factors such as: crime statistics, extreme weather, risk of natural disasters, foreclosures, terrorist threats and job loss numbers.

The 2010 ACCRA Cost of Living Index ranked Harlingen, Texas as the city with the lowest cost of living in the nation, while another Rio South Texas city, McAllen, ranked 3rd. The Cost of Living Index is an annual list based on prices for items including housing, utilities, grocery products, transportation, and healthcare. Rio South Texas cities have consistently ranked among the top on this list for multiple years.

Multiple reports have ranked the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSA high among metropolitan areas for job growth. Based on information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor, Business First ranked the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSA 24th on their list of top 100 Metropolitan Areas in Job growth from 2009 to 2010. Also, the American metro-area economic stability report, released by the Brookings Institution, states the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSA is among the 100 largest metropolitan areas that are on the road to recovery, showing the McAllen metro area to have had three consecutive quarters of job growth through 2009 and the beginning of 2010.

"As you can see by these rankings," said Miki McCarthy, RSTEC chair of the Rio South Texas Economic Council and executive director of San Juan Economic Development Corporation, the Rio South Texas region has earned top recognition as the premier place for business expansions, relocations and job creation for advanced manufacturing and new emerging technologies."

The Rio South Texas region is the largest U.S./Mexico border region in America, the third largest market in Texas, and the 23rd largest market in the U.S. The Rio South Texas region encompasses two countries, one region with many choices. For more information about the Rio South Texas region, please visit www.riosouthtexas.com or call toll free at 1-888-RSTEC01.

Rio South Texas Economic Council and the NBA Development League

January 10, 2011

This year the Rio South Texas Economic Council is partnering with the NBA Channel to sponsor the NBA Development League Showcase on South Padre Island, Texas. Held at the South Padre Island Convention Center from January 10 - 13, the seventh annual Development League Showcase has a 16 game schedule, featuring all 16 NBA D-League teams playing two games each. The Rio South Texas Economic Council is excited to sponsor such an event, and hopes to bring more attention to the Rio South Texas region through the exposure provided to us by the NBA Channel.