PHARR, RGV – As he did last year, Alejandro ‘Alex’ Avila will give the keynote speech at today’s Manufacturing Day celebrations at PSJA ISD.

Over 250 PSJA ISD high school students are expected to attend and participate in the event to encourage and support careers in manufacturing.

Alejandro 'Alex' Avila
Alejandro ‘Alex’ Avila

In addition to being manager of the Sanmina manufacturing plant in Reynosa, Avila is president of INDEX Reynosa, a trade association that represents Maquila companies that are currently hiring over 115,000 workers.

The event will be held from 9 am to 10 am on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at the PSJA T. Jefferson T-STEM Early College High School Cafetorium (714 E Business 83 in Pharr).

“It is going to be a pleasure to see the students at PSJA again because I am still a student. I will be all my life. You always keep learning,” Avila told the Rio Grande Guardian. “I will be sharing my life story, what I have achieved, and hopefully inspiring the students to pursue careers in manufacturing. I have also been asked to discuss current and future advanced manufacturing trends.”

Last year, Avila had a slide in his power point presentation which showed all the countries in the world he has visited on behalf of his company. There were many. He also had a picture of his own airplane. Avila pointed out that he came from humble beginnings but through hard work at school got to study in New York.

“A lot of people think manufacturing is only engineering. It is not. It is business. It economics; it is marketing, it is human resources,” Avila said.

Avila said he hoped to make this point to the students of PSJA: “You do not build companies. You build people who build companies. That is what is what we are trying to do. Build the kids so they can be the leaders of this world.”

He said he would also be pointing out that the maquila industry is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in Mexico.

“We have 16 percent growth in the maquila industry right now in Mexico. We have new design centers going up all over Mexico. The economy is looking pretty good. We need the young kids coming out of high school and college. They are the next wave for us,” Avila added.

As well as INDEX Reynosa, other entities participating in Manufacturing Day 2016 at PSJA Pharr Economic Development Corporation, South Texas Manufacturing Association and South Texas College. Leaders from these entities will discuss the life and business of manufacturing in South Texas.

Mike Willis, executive director of the South Texas Manufacturers Association, said he plans to talk about the importance of manufacturing to the Texas and U.S. economy. “Our partners feel like there are some great opportunities because of our county’s proximity to Mexico to recruit and grow manufacturing,” Willis said.

Willis pointed out that manufacturing jobs enable Texas families to realize the dreams of owning a home, sending a child to college and enjoying a secure retirement. For generations, Willis said, manufacturing has played a critical role in Texas’ diverse economy. “Texas is home to approximately 17,653 manufacturing firms, 54 of which are located in Hidalgo County,” Willis pointed out.

Other items on the agenda include an overview of the South Texas College Dual Enrollment Program, with information on the college’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology program. There will also be a presentation on manufacturing career pathways. The speakers will have a panel question-and-answer discussion following their presentations.

After the program, students will be escorted to industry tours of local manufacturing plants and the South Texas College Technology Campus.

“We are thankful to Pharr EDC, South Texas College and the South Texas Manufacturing Association for their leadership and investment of time to help our students make more informed choices for their future,” said PSJA ISD Superintendent Daniel King.

National Manufacturing Day takes place annually and is celebrated throughout the country with various community events. It is supported by thousands of manufacturers to host students, teachers, parents, job seekers and other local community members at open houses, plant tours and presentations designed to showcase modern manufacturing technology and careers.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Hidalgo County Commissioners Court approved a proclamation designating October as Manufacturing Awareness Month and Friday, Oct. 7 as Manufacturing Day.

Pictured below are Pharr Economic Development Corporation Board Member Mario Lizcano; South Texas Manufacturers Association Executive Director Mike Willis; Pct. 4 Commissioner Joseph Palacios; Pct. 3 Commissioner Joe M. Flores; Judge Ramon Garcia; Pct. 2 Commissioner Eduardo “Eddie” Cantu; Pct. 1 Commissioner AC Cuellar Jr.; Cindy Garza with the Pharr Economic Development Corporation; and PSJA Superintendent Dr. Daniel King.