|SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, September 22 - Improving infrastructure along the border is placing the Rio Grande Valley at the forefront of rapid growth, especially as the issue of global trade becomes increasingly more important, according to a leading economist.
Lauding the various leaders who have had the wherewithal to educate those in Congress about the needs of the region, Dr. Ray Perryman said the resources are now being put in place to break a decades-long cycle of challenges in the Valley.
At the forefront, the Rio Grande Valley will soon reap the benefits as an upcoming university and medical school begin to take shape, Perryman said.
“I have always been impressed that you do the things that matter. You always know the things to build,” Perry told a gathering of local businessmen, entrepreneurs, and leaders. “I think that as you begin to see the new university take shape, and the new medical school take shape, you are really going to begin to see the benefit from that.”
Perryman was the keynote speaker at Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s Small Business Forum, which brought industry experts, entrepreneurs, and government leaders to South Padre Island on Sept. 13. The event featured seminars and speakers offering information on public and private resources, as well as networking opportunities for businesses, and was sponsored by TWC, the Texas Governor’s Office, Workforce Solutions-Cameron, various EDCs and the Rio Grande Valley Partnership.
Speakers at the event included Texas Workforce Commissioner Hope Andrade, state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, and social media expert Frank Kenny.
Dr. Perryman, a well-known economist, and founder and president of The Perryman Group, an economic and financial analysis firm headquartered in Waco, Texas, offered a broad picture of global and local economics, and how South Texas especially fits into the world economy.
“You all have a good bit of growth. This area shows up many times in the Top 10 fastest growing areas all the time. Unemployment rate is still high by national standards, and that is because on average you have a younger population, and on the average you have a less educated population,” Perryman said. “The core of building things in this area is similar to what you find in Texas, just magnified.
“These include improving education, and everything that comes with that, quality of life, access to healthcare, improving infrastructure, water supplies, all those things,” Perryman said.
Mexico’s booming economy ranks among the most important indications of growth in the region, according to Perryman. The world economy grew by 3.5 percent last year, buoyed mostly by growth in Central and South America. The United States, which accounts for 25 percent of the world’s economy, grew by only 1.5 percent last year, followed by flat returns from Europe and Japan, which account for 20 percent and five percent of the global economy, respectively.
“That’s half the world economy, which grew by about one percent,” Perryman said about growth in the U.S., Europe and Japan.
“If the economy of the world grew by 3.5 percent, that means the other half of the world economy had to grow by six percent, which includes Mexico which is growing very strongly, and includes Central and South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, former Soviet States, East Asia.
“They are all doing very well right now, and global trade is becoming more and more important,” Perryman said. “Part of that has to do with better infrastructure at the border, and I would say you all have done a very good job educating the folks in Congress, both Republicans and Democrats.”
While Texas lost 400,000 jobs during the recession, the nation had to contend with over 9.5 million jobs lost during that time. Texas is roughly eight percent of the U.S. economy, so if Texas had lost 8 percent of 9.5 million jobs, the state would have lost about 750,000 jobs. As a result, Texas came out “average” in terms of weathering the recession with 400,000 jobs lost, according to Perryman.
“If we had been like California, Nevada or Florida, which had all been hit hard during this whole ordeal, we would have lost over one million jobs,” he said. “Since the recovery began, the U.S. economy has gained back about 6.8 million jobs. We lost 9.5 million, we got back 6.8. So we have got back about 70 percent of the jobs we lost. In Texas, we got back those 400,000 jobs and we gained another 500,000.”
If the Valley is a magnified version of trends in Texas, as Perryman says, then the region has a lot to look forward to, Perryman said.
“You’re growing at a very healthy rate right now. It’s better than the state average, and the state average is pretty darn good,” Perryman said. “Again, I think the challenges are to break some of the cycles that have been here like more educational achievement. I think a lot of that is starting to happen, and the resources are being put into place to allow that to happen.”