Good morning. Happy to report that I think we are getting our first initial agreement between UTRGV (University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and MEDC (McAllen Economic Development Corporation) to create a partnership with MEDC and the City (of McAllen) for advanced manufacturing strategies.
And our first proposed project is actually underway with a federal entity and UTRGV for… I can’t tell you what it is about but it involves an engineering component with, hopefully, the City and MEDC.
One of the other things (we are working on) is there is a Strategic Alliance Office of the President (at UTRGV) and the Economic Development Office of the President (at UTRGV) working with NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to establish a regional border platform for economic development, specifically focused on manufacturing, industrial research, and logistics. Of course, McAllen will be one of the primary players in that.
I might mention something else that we’re working on and it is COSTEP (Council for South Texas Economic Progress) and its foundation. Keith and I have leadership roles in both these organizations. And we are now kind of restructuring it, looking for a new executive director. But, hopefully, we’ll start regional economic development similar to what’s going on all around us.
It’s interesting when you mention Matamoros and Nuevo León and Reynosa. We’ve got the same thing with Laredo, the McAllen area, and Brownsville. So, typically, what goes on south of the border goes on north of the border. But we (COSTEP) hope to develop a regional approach to economic development. Once we have hired the executive director, we’ll get going with that project.
One important aspect of that is we have money for workforce development. And so we’re working on a program with STC now to get people in the county that dropped out of school, to get them their GED along with a certificate from an apprenticeship program. So, as soon as we get our organization back (up and running), we’re going to continue that program with the county. We think economic development goes hand-in-hand with workforce development and we’d like to take people from a GED to a PhD. That is our goal, providing better opportunities for our citizens.
And lastly, I will talk a little bit about water. I happen to be chairman of the Regional Water Authority, Region M, and we just went below 30 percent, which means cities have to go to another stage of their (water) conservation. About 11 months ago we were going to go below 20 percent. We’ve only done that once in the history of the reservoir and that was in 1998. So we got really close to that. But we got back up towards 30 and now, last month, we got our monthly report and we got below 30 percent. That sounds bad but Mexican reservoirs are full. And they owe us three years of allocation. So if Mexico would pay their water debt to the United States we would be fine. That’s a little bit of a complicated matter but there is water in the watershed. It’s just not in Amistad or Falcon.
If you notice, the Tesla plant in Monterrey that is going on, the big issue is water. And they are going to provide reused water. But, they have not retrofitted any of their sewage treatment plants for water reuse. They think that is the answer, at least for Tesla. The big project was always going to be an aqueduct from the Falcon reservoir to Monterrey and that’s over a $100 million project. And so they’re re-looking at that. And I would imagine it’s more than $100 million now. That study was about 15 years ago. And so there’s also been studies to do it on this side but they’ve never gotten to that point of estimating the cost. But, at any rate, that is my water report.
Editor’s Note: The above remarks were made by McAllen Economic Development Corporation board member James ‘Jim’ Darling at the March 2023 McAllen EDC board of directors meeting. Darling is an adviser to UTRGV President Guy Bailey and chairman of Region M Regional Water Authority. So, he gives reports on UTRGV activities and an update on water levels in Falcon and Amistad dams.
Editor’s Note: The “Keith” Jim Darling referred to in his remarks is Keith Partridge, president of McAllen EDC.
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