WESLACO, Texas – The business community of the Rio Grande Valley is being encouraged to contribute funds for a TV and Radio Spanish language advertising campaign to promote a complete and accurate census count.

The call came from Sergio Contreras, president of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership, the Valley’s regional chamber of commerce.

“It is very important that we get an accurate count during Census 2020. It helps our business community in terms of economic development and recruitment. An accurate count will bring in additional resources to our region,” Contreras said.

Sergio Contreras

Contreras said a regional effort led by the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council (LRGVDC) has so far pulled in $85,500 for a TV and Radio advertising campaign in Spanish. He said the goal is to reach $100,000.

“We are proud and honored that Lone Star National Bank has taken the lead. A big shout out to them. Now, our goal is to engage other private companies so we reach our goal, to share the message that everyone be counted.”

Contreras said when it comes to Census 2020 there is “strength in numbers.” He added: “We want to bring in other business folks to get us to this number, $100,000.”

Contreras gave an exclusive interview to the Rio Grande Guardian at the conclusion of a regional complete count committee meeting in Weslaco. Contreras is a member of the committee, which is administered by LRGVDC and includes U.S. Census Bureau staff.

The subject of the TV and Radio advertising campaign was brought up during the meeting by LRGVDC Executive Director Ron Garza, who co-chairs the committee.

“I am really happy to announce that we got $85,500 from different entities, cities, counties. That is awesome,” Garza said, to applause from the committee. “It was excellent considering there were some timeline issues.”

Garza said that working with the Census Bureau, LRGVDC had set a TV and Radio advertising budget goal of $100,000. “There is still time to get there,” Garza said.

Xochitl Mora

Xochitl Mora is director in the office of communications at the City of McAllen. Mora is in discussions with local TV and Radio stations about the advertising campaign.

At the meeting, Mora said that by raising $100,000 two more media groups could be brought into the campaign.

“With two more media groups we can have the reach and frequency to get the message from Starr County all the way to Brownsville. It will be a regional effort,” Mora said.

The media companies that will air the commercials are Telemundo, Univision, Univision Radio and R Communications, Mora said.

“We will be able to reach multiple radio stations and multiple TV stations. We are not just looking at traditional media but also social and digital media,” she added.

Garza listed the entities that have contributed resources to the advertising campaign. They currently include: Cameron and Willacy counties and the cities of Weslaco, Pharr, Harlingen, La Feria, Brownsville, San Benito and McAllen. Others to have made financial contributions include Lone Star National Bank and Futuro RGV.

Nedra Kinerk, leader of Futuro RGV, said: “We need to reach out to more groups.”

Garza responded that anybody can contribute to the campaign.

A representative from the Census Bureau suggested school districts be approached. The representative asked that his name not be mentioned in the Rio Grande Guardian because he is not allowed to speak to the press.

“School districts can benefit a lot. We should reach out to Region One,” the Census Bureau representative said.

Region One Education Service Center covers the Valley.

Garza agreed that private industry should be approached in order to secure the final $14,500 needed for the TV and Radio advertising campaign. “The cities should not always pick up the tab for this,” he said.

Ron Garza

Garza pointed out that no production dollars will be spent on the TV and Radio commercials. This is because they have been produced by the Census Bureau.

“It is only to push what the Census Bureau has already produced. The sponsors will not be listed. It is not for self-promotion. It is a message that unites everybody,” Garza said. “A thousand here, a thousand there and we get there (to $100,000) quickly.”

Interviewed after the Complete Count Committee meeting, Garza told the Rio Grande Guardian:

“We set a bold amount at $100,000. We asked all our municipal partners and some in private industry to contribute and they all did at the appropriate levels. There was no minimum and no maximum. I think we will get there.”

Asked if the commercials produced by the Census Bureau will be a good fit for the Valley, Garza said: “Absolutely. They have tailored a set of videos for the Latino community. We are going to use that set.”

Asked how pleased he is that Starr County will benefit from the advertising campaign, even though it is not part of LRGVDC, Garza said: “Very pleased. We want the entire region to benefit. The great thing is no one will recognize who contributed and we all benefit. That is the definition of a regional effort.”