Thank your Mayor Hernandez and Senator Lucio. The senator opened all the doors for me when I was at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, to write the Texas Border Colonias Study. That is where we really learned from the people how important broadband access was, because we were hearing it first hand.

I shared that story with the board of governors of the Federal Reserve and we changed, through their stories, the Community Reinvestment Act to advise banks and financial institutions in the importance of investing in broadband infrastructure as essential infrastructure in our economy. To invest under the Community Reinvestment Act and to stop this under-investment and dis-investment in low-income communities and communities along the border. The film is beautifully showing kind of the progress and how important this announcement is today.

Now I am with Methodist Healthcare Ministries and it is a wonderful place to be. We are a philanthropic organization as well as healthcare organization. And at MHM we know, and we have made it part of our strategic plan, to work with the City of Pharr and other partners along the border to close the digital divide. This pro-active and innovative approach is exactly what we are looking to invest in and I am excited about what is to come. This is what creates the economic opportunities at all levels of the local economy and the regional economy. So, you all are the anchor for a regional powerhouse. And it is this can-do attitude of this city, of the people in this city that is making it happen.

We look forward as Methodist Healthcare Ministries to working together with the City of Pharr as we explore how best to support your efforts. The digital divide has real world consequences for communities as we have seen very clearly with the COVID pandemic. It has made everything very evident, of how critical closing the digital divide is to the well-being and economic opportunity of communities.

It has real world consequences for communities. When I first did the ranking of cities and revealed that the border and this region was the least connected in the country, that was so important in getting everybody’s attention at the federal level, at the state level, and local level. Of course the local level is where we came to understand how important it was, from working with Dr. Hernandez and Senator Lucio at the local level.

So, we are in this digital economy and broadband access influences health outcomes. It influences workforce opportunities, as our commissioner has noted. And, of course, educational equity and so much more. At Methodist Healthcare Ministries we are committed to working with our partners across South Texas communities to close the digital divide.

In my previous position within the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas we were engaged with the City of Pharr in developing the plan that led to today’s exciting announcement. And in my current role I look forward to MHM, Methodist Healthcare Ministries, as a philanthropic and healthcare organization supporting this initiative in all its aspects.

Mayor Hernandez knows that we need this infrastructure in order to go forward. And he also knows that the infrastructure is a means to an end. What he is really investing in is the incredible human capital of all the young people. We have had too many years – and I come from the border region – of what they call the brain drain, right, with young people leaving and starting their innovative ideas, like the young woman from Las Milpas starting her business in Silicon Valley when she could have started here if we had had the infrastructure to attract industry.

So, with today’s announcement the City of Pharr is taking a leadership role in the effort to show its community that it understands the importance of closing the digital divide and increasing broadband access for all. I look forward to developing our partnership to bring telehealth and so much more to this community and to the entire region.

Thank you.

Editor’s Note: The above commentary was made by Jordana Barton, vice president of community investment for Methodist Healthcare Ministries, at a news conference held to announce TeamPharr.net. In her remarks, Barton referenced a video shown at the news conference about Pharr’s efforts to close the digital divide. She also referenced Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., and Texas Workforce Commissioner Julian Alvarez. All three spoke at the event.

Editor’s Note: Click here to read the remarks of Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez at the news conference.

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a three-part series on the announcement about TeamPharr.net. Click here to read Part Two. Part Three will be posted in our next edition.


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