WESLACO, Texas – The House Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth recently held a congressional field hearing in Weslaco, Texas. 

The title of the hearing was: Infrastructure Investment – Building Economic Resilience in South Texas.

One of the topics discussed was broadband connectivity. For the congressional record, two Rio Grande Valley residents appeared together in a video to speak about broadband connectivity in the region. They were Sergio Contreras, CEO of Atlas, Hall & Rodriguez, and UT-Rio Grande Valley student Rhonda Diaz.

Here is their testimony:

Sergio Contreras

I am Sergio Contreras, proud father of two. I live in Mission, Texas, and work as the CEO of Atlas, Hall & Rodriguez. I am also a board member of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership. 

There are certain parts of our communities in the (Rio Grande) Valley and across the state where there are gaps, where we need additional investment to be able to access reliable and adequate broadband speed to be able to fulfill what is needed to attain an education or to complete your work or for telemedicine. 

We are fortunate there is a Broadband Development Office board of advisors which provides the opportunity to create a plan for the State of Texas, with a charge that we continue to showcase the strength of Texas, providing another tool for economic development. Just like we need infrastructure for transportation, roadways, we are also needing the investment for broadband to catch up. 

Thank you to Congressman Gonzalez for bringing this hearing to our region. It is very important that funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law comes to Texas, impacts our local communities here in the Rio Grande Valley. As we have heard from Rhonda, it would transform lives. It will provide opportunities for this generation and the next. 

Rhonda Diaz

Hello. My name is Rhonda Diaz. I live in Progreso, Texas. Right now I am a full time student at UTRGV. 

The little town where I live has a small population. We have satellite internet. It is very slow. My Zoom meetings were always getting disconnected. Sometimes, I would even spend extra time at the campus because I know, once I get home I am really not going to be able to do anything online. 

My mom not being able to have that wi-fi or that broadband at home, I am not able to communicate with her via FaceTime. It kind of makes it difficult, because of the connection, it is not there. It is hard sometimes. So, having broadband would be a great way to stay connected to my family. 

Editor’s Note: The above news story is the first in a three-part series on broadband connectivity in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. Part Two, featuring the views of Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez, will appear in our next edition.

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