BROWNSVILLE, RGV – Brownsville’s leadership role in reviving the aerospace and aviation industry in Texas has been recognized by Gov. Greg Abbott.

On Monday, Abbott announced that Gilberto Salinas, executive vice president of the Brownsville Economic Development Council (BEDC), had been appointed to the Aerospace and Aviation Advisory Committee.

Gilberto Salinas
Gilberto Salinas

Abbott said committee will work on strategies for the recruitment of companies and capital investment in the aerospace and aviation sector in Texas.

Salinas said he is honored by the appointment.

“It was sad to see NASA’s space shuttle program come to an end, however, it just means the race to get to Mars has begun. And Texas is in an extremely strategic position,” Salinas said.

“Texas has a great opportunity to truly become a major research, development, manufacturing and supply-chain hub for the aerospace and aviation sector. Being an advocate for growing this sector and developing our talent is perfectly aligned with the Governor’s vision of a better business atmosphere and overall economic development for the state of Texas.”

Salinas pointed out that BEDC has had the distinction of working on one of the biggest game-changing projects in the Rio Grande Valley in recent years – SpaceX. SpaceX is building a vertical rocket launch site and command center at Boca Chica beach. BEDC helped the State of Texas bring SpaceX to South Texas and also collaborated with SpaceX and the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley on the development of STARGATE, a ground star tracking station.

Salinas paid tribute to the legislators who helped with SpaceX – state Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr., and state Reps. René Oliveira and Eddie Lucio III. He said each has been instrumental in fostering the development of the SpaceX and STARGATE projects. Working with Gov. Abbott, Sen. Lucio authored Senate Bill 458, which strengthened the existing aerospace-related division in the Governor’s Office.

Last year, state Rep. Dennis Paul, chair of the Texas Legislative Space Caucus, asked Salinas and BEDC to help the State of Texas develop a strategy to make Texas the leader in the commercial space sector. The caucus held a meeting at the Space Commerce Conference and Exposition, which took place at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.

Other EDCs present at the roundtable discussion included the Houston Bay Area and Midland. Along with Brownsville they are heavily involved in the commercial space sector. “Since 2012, the global space economy has grown by 70 percent and the majority of that growth is in the commercial space industry,” Salinas told the Rio Grande Guardian soon after the caucus met.

Salinas pointed out that BEDC has earned numerous national gold awards and recognitions for its recruitment, collaboration and marketing efforts associated with the space industry.

In 2013, Salinas received the prestigious 40-Under-40 Rising Stars in Economic Development in the nation. He was named the 2015 Distinguished Alumnus of Leadership Brownsville and was also honored with the 2015 Masons Community Builder of the Year.

Salinas is currently a member of the board of directors for the International Economic Development Council and a member of TexasOne, Team Texas and the Texas EDC. Salinas is a life member of the University of Texas-Exes.

He earned a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Texas and a Master of Communication from the University of Texas Pan-American. Salinas, a Brownsville native, graduated from Rivera High School.

Salinas’ term on the Aerospace and Aviation Advisory Committee expires on Sept. 1, 2019.

Editor’s Note. Click here to read a related story, “Brownsville EDC asked to help Texas become leader in commercial space sector.”