HARLINGEN, RGV – Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell gave his State of the City address for 2015 at the Casa de Amistad on Friday, Jan. 31. The Rotary Club of Harlingen served as hosts for the event.

Here are Boswell’s prepared remarks:

Good afternoon and welcome to our annual State of the City address. Thank you for being here to learn about and reflect upon the many important developments in Harlingen over the last year. Thank you to the Harlingen Rotary Club for sponsoring this annual event. This service organization always has played a vital role in strengthening our great City and as you will hear later, never more so than in the last year.

It is always a humbling and somewhat daunting task to sit down each year to compile this report. We are fortunate to live in a city with lots of good news to share. There are not just a few good things to talk about but dozens. And we are blessed to have so many different people and leaders in our community contributing to our growth and vitality. But it is certainly important to recognize at the outset my fellow City Commission members who work so hard for the Citizens of our great City each and every week: Commissioner Danny Castillo, Commissioner Tudor Uhlhorn, Commissioner Mike Mezmar, Commissioner Basilio “Chino” Sanchez and Commissioner and Mayor Pro-Tem Victor Leal.

San Benito Mayor Celeste Sanchez, Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez, Matamoros Mayor Leticia Salazar, Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell and La Feria Mayor Pro-Tem Esmeralda Lozano.
San Benito Mayor Celeste Sanchez, Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez, Matamoros Mayor Leticia Salazar, Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell and La Feria Mayor Pro-Tem Esmeralda Lozano.

And so I am proud to again report that because of what you and so many others in our City have done, we have had another outstanding year in Harlingen and the State of our City is strong.

As I report to you this year on many recent successes and upcoming initiatives, I want to put them into a context of how they contribute to community vitality. Many organizations study the vitality of communities and even produce annual lists of “best places to live.” I particularly like the way one organization, The Centre for Innovative & Entrepreneurial Leadership, has identified nine key areas which are essential to making a city like Harlingen a great place to live, work, visit, and invest.

Personal and Economic Security

Personal and economic security are paramount. Successful cities have adequate and diversified employment, various types of affordable housing, and a strong sense of personal safety. Fortunately, these are areas in which Harlingen excels.

Low Unemployment

Harlingen now has an unemployment rate of 5.1 percent. That’s a four percent drop in the last four years from 9.8 percent in 2011. It’s the lowest rate in Cameron County and a close third to McAllen and Edinburg. And, it’s lower than the national average. Think about that for a moment. We live in a region which historically has had one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. Yet we proudly can say that’s not the case in Harlingen. We also expect that downward unemployment trend to continue with the opening of Qualfon’s customer service center, the expansion of existing businesses like UniFirst on Fair Park Boulevard, and the addition of other new employers.

Sales Tax

Retail sales continue to be strong in Harlingen. For the third year in a row, Harlingen’s sales have surpassed the $1 billion mark and are climbing. To appreciate the magnitude of our retail sales growth, it’s best to compare sales over time.  Since 2008, Harlingen’s retail sales have grown 9.13% compared to 5.98 percent in McAllen and five percent in Brownsville. And, while other Valley cities also have had significant growth, Harlingen has managed to maintain most of its market share, despite competition from our neighbors. Contributing to this retail growth in 2014 were Sam’s, Cracker Barrel, Ulta, and Kirkland’s, just to name a few.

Harlingen’s Financial Condition   

This type of growth bodes well for our City’s finances. I often am asked, “How is Harlingen doing?”And the first thing I explain is that we’re in great shape financially. Once again, we ended our fiscal year on September 30, 2014 with an increase to our fund balance which now stands at $17,183,636. That’s an increase of over $2 million as a result of $855 thousand in reduced expenditures and almost $1.2 million in increased revenues. And, over the last ten years, the city’s combined revenue growth from all sources has increased by more than 42 percent. Any business would be proud of that kind of robust growth. And as members of this community, you should be very pleased and proud of the financial strength and success our City has experienced.

Another indicator of economic growth is home sales. A total of 910 houses sold in Harlingen in 2014, which compares very favorably with other Valley communities, and communities throughout the state. In fact, the real estate center at Texas A&M reported that Harlingen had the highest year-to-year growth in home sales of any city in Texas — a whopping 24 percent. Early in 2014, Tom Mason opened the beautifully restored Residences at Uptown and quickly reached 100 percent occupancy. Tom says the project has been financially successful and he would do it again in a heartbeat. Other apartment complexes around Harlingen also are at high occupancies and the new $20 million Vantage Apartments project is nearly complete and currently is leasing with over 288 units. Fifty percent occupancy.

Recently the City of Harlingen partnered with this great Rotary Club and Habitat for Humanity on a new affordable housing program. As you may have seen on TV or read in the newspaper, Harlingen’s first Habitat for Humanity house is under construction on Washington, on a lot contributed by the City with funds supplied by the Rotary Club. In anticipation of making this a significant program for our community, $100,000.00 has been secured from the Harlingen Finance Corporation and more vacant lots acquired through tax sales forfeitures are available for this program. I want to again congratulate the Rotary Club and thank Commissioner Mike Mezmar for his efforts on this initiative.

Public Safety

Of the many factors that go into evaluating any community, a strong sense of personal safety is at the top of the list. Fortunately, Harlingen continues to post reductions in the crime rate. For the 3rd year in a row, we have seen a more than 20 percent drop in our crime rate, continuing a seven-year downward trend. Combined overall incidents of violent and property crime were down 22.7 percent for 2014 as compared to 2013. Individually, incidents of violent crime were down by 41.1 percent and property crime by 20.5 percent compared to 2013.

But there is one more statistic I want to share with you. And, though sadly, we can’t say this every year, it is truly remarkable in this day and age that in 2014, the City of Harlingen did not have one single murder — not one. When people ask you about Harlingen, tell them that. Especially when people who are thinking of visiting or moving here ask you how safe this City near the border is, be sure and tell them – not a single murder. Harlingen is a very safe community.

Our low crime rate can be attributed to the outstanding performance of the men and women — sworn, civilian and volunteer – that serve the community through the Harlingen Police Department and to the City Commission’s commitment to public safety and supporting both our Police and Fire Departments. In 2014, we concluded two year collective bargaining negotiations and approved agreements with both our police and fire unions. This was no small task and required many months of thoughtful give-and-take between the City staff and commission on the one hand and the leadership of the police and fire organizations on the other. Over the next two years staff in both departments will see an approximately 6% combined increase in regular and incentive pay. These agreements are fair both to the taxpayers and to the hard-working individuals who are essential to providing us with that all-important sense of personal security.

And fortunately, we are able to budget for these increases because our economy is strong and Harlingen is prospering. I personally want to thank Commissioner Danny Castillo for his leadership and the valuable insights he provided to the City Commission and staff during these important negotiations.

A Learning Culture

In our ever-changing world, education and lifelong learning are vital to success. Harlingen strives for excellence in education at all levels. The Horizon Montessori School that opened on Sunshine Strip in 2014 is just one example of initiatives to improve pre-K education in Harlingen. Our school district and their leadership are recognized as one of the most innovative and outstanding in the state. And, while their accomplishments are too numerous to list here today, it is noteworthy that just last month HCISD opened the doors to a state-of-art School of Health Professions. Since almost 25 percent of the people employed in Harlingen work in the healthcare industry, at Valley Baptist Hospital, Harlingen Medical Center, Su Clinica Familiar, South Texas Hospital, the Rio Grande State Center, the VA Health System, the RAHC, or in other medical offices and businesses, this new school will help ensure we have a workforce prepared for these good-paying and important jobs.

We also expect some of these students will advance to the UT RGV Medical School as it gains accreditation in the coming months and accepts its first students in 2016. Harlingen’s commitment to UT RGV and its School of Medicine will not waiver and our centrally located 36-acre campus will be an important part of this great and historic educational venue.

Because of that commitment the City Commission in 2014 purchased another 29-acre parcel in the heart of medical district to set aside for future opportunities which we believe will arise with UT RGV, including the medical school and other research facilities.

Texas State Technical College has just begun celebrating its 50th anniversary. TSTC is truly one of the City’s great treasures and a cornerstone of our economic success. Again and again, our investment in instructional facilities has resulted in economic advancement for our citizens and a trained workforce for a broad spectrum of commercial and industrial employers. For about $8,000 total, you can earn a certification which will start you off in a technical job like robotics at around $60 thousand per year. That’s value. In recognition of our contributions to this statewide institution, the City of Harlingen will be honored at TSTC’s 50th anniversary celebration in Austin on April 22. Please join me in thanking Dr. Stella Garcia and the TSTC faculty and staff of over 500 for their exceptional work.

A Culture of Wellness

A city’s vitality is also measured by its culture of wellness, fitness, and adequate health facilities. I already mentioned many of the important health care facilities which truly put Harlingen on the map, and some of the programs we are undertaking to train more doctors, nurses, and other health professionals. And, in the coming year, we will begin construction of another important health care facility that will add over 250 new, good-paying jobs in Harlingen— the Palms Behavioral Health Center. We are honored that this nationally-known health care organization has elected to invest in our City and provide state-of-the-art health care services here. This 94-bed facility will serve an urgent need in Cameron County for mental health facilities and will contribute greatly both to our economy and our community. Our Economic Development Corporation and City staff did an outstanding job bringing this facility to Harlingen.

Another key wellness indicator is that there are meaningful opportunities for newcomers to get involved and make a difference in the community. That was definitely apparent this year, as Jun and Edith Ellimoro of Footworks decided to give back to their adopted home of Harlingen, Texas, and partnered with the City to organize and host our first half-marathon. This awesome event on November 16th truly showcased the best in our community, enabling more than 1200 participants to achieve their personal fitness goals, bringing business to our hotels, shops, and restaurants, and engaging hundreds of volunteers from the business community, schools, and numerous nonprofit organizations in a spirit of friendly hospitality. I want to especially thank and recognize Jun and Edith for helping us — and this is their words — “together move forward in creating a ‘healthier and more active community’ one mile at a time.” Please join me in a round of applause for this accomplishment. And, mark your calendars now for the 2nd annual Harlingen Half to be held this year on Sunday, November 15th.

Innovation Leadership

In successful communities, the formal and informal leadership encourages discussion, participation, and new ideas in public affairs and in business. Clearly, Jun and Edith epitomize the kind of innovative leadership which makes our community strong. Innovative, volunteer leadership also has been key to the phenomenal success of our trademark Harlingen events: the world-renowned Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival, which celebrated 21 years in 2014, and our monthly Jackson Street Market Days event, which has become a model for numerous street festivals throughout the region.

Harlingen is blessed to have many other dedicated volunteers, including Community Improvement Board Chairman Jesse Robles and his board and committee, who continue to work on our Comprehensive Plan. The plan soon will be finalized and presented to the community for feedback and then approval by the City Commission. This will be a forward-looking plan with a good balance between new ideas and a respect for history and tradition. The plan encourages numerous cooperative and joint community initiatives to enhance quality of life while making Harlingen a focal point for increased economic activity.

As I reported last year, the Cities of Brownsville, Matamoros and Harlingen have formed a partnership to study the creation of a Bi-National Economic Development zone to attract more manufacturing jobs to our region as more and more manufacturing migrates back to North America from overseas. A working committee appointed by the three cities has begun analyzing what needs to be done to create a BiNED zone. I want to thank Merced Perez-Trevino, Norwood Fedie and Raudel Garza for serving as our representatives on that Committee and Commissioner Tudor Uhlhorn for his service on the technical committee, as well as his contributions to the many other successes of the last year. Already, the United States Economic Development Authority has provided a grant of $300,000 for supply chain studies necessary to begin this project.

BiNED is an example of how leaders in our region can and must work together to accomplish more for all of our citizens. Additionally, Harlingen and Matamoros recently signed a Sister City agreement which is more than just symbolic. Harlingen’s relationship with one of Northern Mexico’s largest cities is important and a first step in strengthening ties and working collaboratively with an array of Mexican business leaders. I want to thank our City Manager Carlos Yerena and Commissioner Basilio “Chino” Sanchez for all they have done to further this effort.

We also are strengthening our partnerships with neighboring communities such as San Benito and Los Indios and La Feria. They are important to our region and to Harlingen’s future. And on February 11th at the State Capitol, a special Harlingen—San Benito Day will highlight this important relationship.

And speaking of innovative leadership, I think now would be a good time for me to recognize our many talented employees who daily provide quality services to the people of Harlingen. If you work for the City of Harlingen, please stand and be recognized. On behalf of the citizens and the City Commission, thank you all for the great job you do.

A Clean Environment

Vibrant communities also have a clean environment. We’re fortunate to live in a community with clean air, a lot of green space, and an abundance of birdsong.

The City of Harlingen implemented a “Going Green” Initiative in 2004 with computerized HVAC controls, and upgraded streetlights, building lights, and traffic signals to LEDs. From July 2004 to August 2014, we reduced our energy consumption by more than 6.5 million kilowatt hours, which translates to a savings of more than 1.5 million. And, if you want to consider that reduction in environmental terms, it’s equivalent to 4,341 tons of carbon dioxide eliminated, 987 cars taken off the road for one year or 1,342 acres of trees planted. Either way, it’s a good thing.  

Clean drinking water and an effective wastewater system are things that most of us take for granted. We just expect our faucets to provide clean water and we expect our wastewater to go away when we want it to. But it doesn’t always happen like that, as one Valley community learned last year when schools and businesses were without potable water for several days. Working to ensure these systems are reliable requires planning and diligence.

We are fortunate to have been blessed by very innovative leadership at the Harlingen Public Utility—known as Harlingen Waterworks. Back in 2008 Waterworks commissioned an exhaustive study which identified the need for a 10-million-gallon-per-day water treatment plant and for facilities to treat sludge and odor management. The estimate for those facilities was $50.1 million. But instead of borrowing all $50 million, Waterworks patiently completed most of that work by paying as they went. Now, they will be able to complete the entire project by borrowing only $12 million which can be paid off with revenues from already approved utility rates.  

And in the midst of last year’s drought, Harlingen Waterworks was one of very few cities or water suppliers that did not have to implement water restrictions. Why?  Because we have an excellent water supply and production capacity. Please join me in congratulating our Waterworks Board, their General Manager Darrell Gunn, and all of the hard-working Harlingen Waterworks staff for another great year.

Arts, Culture, and a Sense of Community

By definition, vibrant communities have an abundance of public art, galleries, concerts, and celebrations. They also are aware of and celebrate local history, and are home to people of diverse ages, cultures, and life experiences. In successful and desirable communities, citizens greet people on the street, regardless of whether they know them, and there is a strong sense of belonging.

In Harlingen, our many murals serve as a unique outdoor art gallery and have become a signature attraction. Our mural program is recognized as one of the best in Texas, has been featured in local, regional, national, and international publications, and in 2014 led to our being the first City in the Valley to offer Segway tours which glide by ten murals and other attractions in our historic city center.  

New art galleries and artist studios also have opened in Downtown Harlingen and, as a result of brainstorming and dialogue during the Comprehensive Planning process, volunteers last January began organizing a monthly Harlingen Art Night downtown during which local artists and craftspeople display and sell their work. These fun events are held on the last Friday of each month from 7-9 p.m. So, if you haven’t been to Harlingen Art Night yet, you should head downtown tonight and check it out.

When it comes to music and celebrations, there are great options in Harlingen year-round. In the spring and fall, our community’s Hispanic heritage is front and center with Cinco de Mayo and Diez y Seis celebrations, organized in collaboration with the Mexican Consulate. And in the summer, our popular Blues on the Hill series continues to attract music lovers from throughout the region.

The Harlingen Arts and Heritage Museum had one of their most successful years ever in 2014 including fabulous exhibitions of work by talented Harlingen residents Guido Mattei and Tony Schaub and numerous inventive installations by community members for their Dia de los Muertos and Christmas celebrations. We look forward to more creative exhibits at the museum in the months ahead.

Murals, galleries, concerts, celebrations, museums – these are the kinds of things that make Harlingen an interesting and fun place to live or to visit.

Physical Space

As you all know, improving the appearance of our City has been one of my top priorities as Mayor, and I believe it to be both a quality of life and an economic development issue. Successful communities – the ones that rank highest as “Best Places to Live” – are physically beautiful and distinctive: they don’t look like other towns in the area and they work hard at taking care of and improving their appearance.

This year, we’ve made even more strides in that area. We trimmed 555 palm trees around the City. And on national “Make a Difference” Day, 117 volunteers came out to help clean up and refurbish our landscaped medians. Through monthly clean sweeps and quarterly trash-off events, we eliminated approximately 80 tons of debris and more than 900 tires from our neighborhoods.  

And next month, Harlingen Proud-Keep Harlingen Beautiful intends to propose an ambitious plan to beautify the City’s entry points and install landscaping to improve the look of our City. It will take more than just the City to fund the array of projects which are envisioned and I encourage all of you to get involved and support this effort. And I congratulate Chairman Nick Consiglio and the whole Keep Harlingen Beautiful Board for their vision and dedication to beautifying our City.

In 2014 we also made significant improvements in several City Parks. Pavilions at Rangerville Road Park and Victor Park were renovated. At Rangerville Road Park, the playground also was improved and made accessible to all our kids.

With the Harlingen Rotary Club’s leadership and financial assistance, we built the City’s first Bark Park, which is now a very popular place. In fact, when I walked out of City Hall the night we approved funding for this project, a man came up to me on the sidewalk and said, “Hi, I’m new to Harlingen, do y’all have a dog park?”It sure felt good to be able to say, not yet, but in about 4 months we will. Seriously, that’s a true story! C.B. Wood Park received funding for a $175,000 Semi-Inclusive Playground through the Community Development Block Grant program.

Pendleton Park now has outdoor Exercise Equipment funded partly through the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston’s School of Public Health. These improvements at Pendleton and the other parks not only improve our City’s appearance, they obviously also contribute to our community’s health and wellness.

Our ongoing partnership with the National Guard to eliminate dilapidated structures which serve as magnets for criminal activity is one of which we can be very proud. The National Guard was back again this month to eliminate 31 more structures, including a couple of crackhouses right across the street from public schools. Through this and other programs, we have eliminated 264 derelict structures over the last four years and hope that more beautiful new homes will be built on many of these cleared lots through the Rotary-City-Habitat for Humanity partnership already described.

The Sun Valley Motor Hotel is another innovative and successful clean-up project with quality of life and economic development implications. In recent years, the old hotel had become a haven for crime and a nuisance for businesses and residents in the area. So, two years ago, in the interest of public safety, the City partnered with the property owner to front the cost for demolition of the deteriorated structures. We recouped our investment this year when the sale of the property closed and the City’s lien was paid. A new investor has plans to re-develop the property and we hope to make an announcement on that soon. As a Judge involved in the settlement said: “You mean the City of Harlingen cleaned up the property and now they want to be repaid? I wish they’ d go up to Corpus Christi and show that city how to do this!”

We’ve also continued to improve the infrastructure which is vital to future development. We completed the Brazil and Teege Road expansions around Harlingen Heights to further increase the potential for development. We extended Bass Pro Drive west to open up those new development sites as well. We created new sidewalks along Rio Hondo Road, 13th Street, 7th Street, and Lozano Street, so that our kids are safer on their way to and from school. We completed several street overlay projects with monies from the General Fund and CDBG funds, and funded or completed several important drainage projects, including the Buchanan, Hays & “M” Street Storm Sewer and 3rd Street Drainage Ditch Projects.

And, in what should prove to be one of the most forward-thinking projects of the year, the City acquired a beautiful new building adjacent to our Industrial Parks to serve as a Combined Law Enforcement Training Annex. The former Ballenger Construction headquarters now will be home to a Regional Firefighter Training facility and the Police Department Internal Affairs unit. The building also will serve in the future as a new Emergency Operations Center.

And, starting February 20, 21 students from Matamoros will begin a 280-hour fire academy course there. The City of Harlingen is hosting this International Fire Academy in conjunction with the State Fire Fighters and Fire Marshals’ Association and the Texas Engineering Extension Service. It will be the first International Training Academy in Texas with bi-lingual instructors and Spanish training materials. There will be many other uses for this building which was acquired for about70 dollars per square foot, which is a real bargain. I want to thank Commissioner and Mayor Pro-Tem Victor Leal for his leadership on this project.

Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Harlingen’s vitality also depends upon our support of entrepreneurs as we continually look for strategic opportunities and encourage new ideas.  

Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in our 18-block downtown improvement district, which is now home to more than 170 businesses or organizations, many of which are unique and locally-owned. In 2014, a total of 24 new businesses located downtown, infusing our oldest buildings with new energy, ideas, and activities. An indoor playground, a Pilates studio, a music center, and specialty retailers are among the start-ups attracting new customers to our downtown, as well as other entrepreneurs and investors. Seven properties sold downtown in 2014, and the commercial and residential renovations which the new owners have completed, have underway, or are planning, are vital to realizing our vision of a vibrant and fully restored city center.

At the end 2014, local businessman Nick Chandra opened his new 71-room Candlewood Suites hotel near the I-69 and Ed Carey exit. The Patel family also invested in our City and opened the new Marriott Residence Inn adjacent to Bass Pro Shops. The beautiful new properties created by these entrepreneurial families greatly enhance the lodging options for tourists and businesspeople.

Across town, at Valley International Airport, entrepreneurs led by Pat Kornegay opened their new Fixed Based Operation and Hangar this year as well. This $2.5 million dollar investment in our airport includes a 23 thousand square foot hangar and terminal space. Already, 50 percent more aircraft are calling Harlingen home at Sun Valley Aviation, including several planes which had left Harlingen in recent years. Gulf Aviation also expanded their operations by acquiring the BAX Global facility next to them at the airport.

And speaking of entrepreneurship and innovation, the announcement and groundbreaking for a SpaceX launch facility to be constructed in Cameron County at Boca Chica Beach has been universally heralded as a game changer for the County and the Rio Grande Valley. We congratulate our neighbors in Brownsville for their outstanding leadership in bringing this great economic and scientific engine to our region. Harlingen was proud to be a member of the regional team that provided economic incentives for SpaceX to locate here.

But the arrival of SpaceX has done more. It helped cast a giant spotlight on an innovative and entrepreneurial company which has been with us here in Harlingen for over 25 years—United Launch Alliance. As many of you know, and unfortunately as many do not know, United Launch Alliance was formed as a joint venture by Boeing and Lockheed Martin to provide turn-key rocket launch services to the United States Government. ULA manufactures rocket components including parts of the Atlas V rocket right here in Harlingen at Valley International Airport. Since the Lockheed plant here became part of ULA in 2006, ULA has successfully delivered more than 85 satellites to orbit that provide critical capabilities for troops in the field, aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, enable personal device-based GPS navigation, and facilitate other scientific study.

This past December NASA awarded contracts to both SpaceX and Boeing to build and launch space vehicles capable of delivering astronauts into orbit and to the International Space Station. Boeing’s manned space capsule will in turn rely on United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket to send the capsule into space. So the chances are good that the next men and women launched into space from a US launch pad will be riding on a rocket fabricated in part by our friends and neighbors here in Harlingen. That’s exciting news for ULA and our community.

There has been discussion in some circles that Harlingen might lose the nearly 200 jobs out at the plant here in Harlingen. But I can confirm for you here and now that ULA is here to stay. We are at this moment working on a new five year lease for ULA to continue its operations out at Valley International Airport. And, we intend to work with ULA and our state and federal leadership to expand ULA’s operational capabilities and bring even more exciting and noteworthy manufacturing processes to our plant in Harlingen. We have a ways to go on creating that expansion but our City Commission, Airport Board and Economic Development Corporation are committed to this effort. I want to thank and recognize Senator John Cornyn and Representative Filemon Vela for their efforts in supporting ULA in Harlingen. I know that Governor Abbott, Senator Lucio and Representative Lucio are supportive of seeing this company grow here in Texas as well.

Seeing the development of an aerospace cluster between ULA and SpaceX in Cameron County is not a dream. It’s reality. And as both of these companies thrive in our region, we expect others to follow. Certainly, the educational and scientific partnerships with UT RGV and the opportunity this will bring for high wage jobs will be unprecedented.


In closing, I hope you are as proud as I am of the many accomplishments in Harlingen over the past year and excited about the wonderful opportunities ahead. Harlingen really is a great community. And, the more I visit with newcomers, the more I realize it is the kind of place where most people want to live, where the crime rate is low, housing is affordable, the economy is expanding, and the people are friendly.  

And perhaps even more importantly, it’s the kind of place that enables people to pursue their passions, whether it’s running your first 5K or owning your own business, pursuing an education or raising a family. As we look ahead, Harlingen is poised to seize many opportunities that will make our community more vibrant and more prosperous, to expand our partnership with UT RGV and other educational institutions, to continue to redevelop our downtown, to further improve our infrastructure and our appearance, and to reach for the stars as we develop new aerospace and general manufacturing processes.

But it’s because of people like you here in this room that we have so many accomplishments and achievements to report on today. Things don’t just happen in Harlingen, we work together to make them happen. Together we get things done. And together we take time to celebrate our unique cultural traditions and honor local heroes for their service.

2015 is going to be another great year for our City. Thank you all for your service as leaders in business, on our city boards, and in our community. I am grateful for all you do individually and together for the betterment of our City.

May God bless all of you, God Bless our Country, God Bless the Great State of Texas, and may God continue to bless this great city of Harlingen. Thank you.