HIDALGO, RGV – Political and economic development leaders say a new era of growth and prosperity is underway in the city of Hidalgo following the awarding of a $1.2 million federal grant.

The funding, announced Wednesday by Jorge Ayala, regional director of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, will allow for much-needed water, sewer and drainage infrastructure improvements close to State Farm Arena.

Hidalgo Economic Development Corporation will kick in an additional $300,000. This, in turn, will trigger a $50 million investment by the private sector, including, in the first phase, ten acres given over to the construction of 144 apartment units and 20 acres for a new IDEA School. The second phase will see 30 acres developed for industrial parks, with numerous cold storage warehouses built.

At the same time, Hidalgo County will be widening Dicker Road from two lanes to five, in order to better handle international truck traffic, with a new east-west connector built along Arena Drive for passenger vehicles, from 10th Street in the west to McColl Road in the east.

Details on the multi-layered development project were unveiled at a news conference held outside State Farm Arena on Wednesday.

In his remarks at the conference, Hidalgo Mayor Sergio Coronado said: “We need to create more jobs for our community.” He said the timing of a meeting he and other city and EDC leaders with Ayala in Austin was perfect. “Mr. Ayala said timing is everything. This was perfect timing and the perfect plan. We are part of history but we are touching the future as well.”

Ana Maria Garcia, South Texas regional director for U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, thanked the EDA for its continuous investment in much-needed projects for South Texas. 

“Mr. Ayala, you have been a God Send to the Rio Grande Valley and to the State of Texas. It is an honor to partner with you on these projects in Texas and the Rio Grande Valley. Thank you for the stellar work you do. We appreciate you very much,” Garcia said.

Garcia also read aloud a letter from Sen. Cornyn. The letter stated that the resources provided by the EDA will not only provide important infrastructure but also “accelerate” the creation of jobs across the region. 

“I was proud to advocate for this funding. I look forward to hearing about the progress of the projects initiated by these funds. Congratulations on receiving this grant. And I encourage you to continue pursuing excellence in the years to come,” Cornyn said in his letter.

In his remarks, Ayala said that coming from the small community of Edroy he knows all about the needs of rural Texas.

“We look for projects where we know the community is working together and collaborating on good economic development projects,” Ayala said, acknowledging Mayor Coronado’s comment about perfect timing. 

“We were looking for a good project to finish out our year. Sometimes it takes a little bit of luck but more importantly it takes preparation. A lot of work has gone into this project,” Ayala said. 

Ayala confirmed that in September EDA approved a $1.2 million grant to Hidalgo EDC to make water, sewer and road improvements around the State Farm Arena. 

“It is projected that it is going to create at least 200 jobs and over $50 million in private investment. Citizens of Hidalgo, that is something to be proud of. Our hope is those are going to be some quality jobs, some high paying good jobs that will inspire the community for many years to come,” Ayala said.

He added:  “We are excited to be a partner. It takes all of us working together and putting our resources together. It is a great day to be in Hidalgo. I look forward to seeing these vacant fields filled with companies and properties and development that bring real jobs to Hidalgo.”

Los Angeles-based developer Albert Barrios is part of 111 Hidalgo LLC. Barrios thanked Hidalgo EDC President Priciliano (J.R.) Treviño, Hidalgo City Manager Julian Gonzalez, and consultant Petra Reyna for their help with the project.

Albert Barrios

Barrios explained that he first became interested in developing around the State Farm Arena ten years ago. “I know the dream is finally going to come true, not only for the City of Hidalgo, the community, but also for us. With God’s blessing, one year from now, we hope to see one building here, in another year or two an IDEA School.”

IDEA Public Schools

Elizabeth Garza, executive director of IDEA Public Schools, pointed out that her Upper Valley region is the biggest in the charter school’s system.

“We are very excited to come to the city of Hidalgo. We have 23 schools, from Donna to Rio Grande City, and 15,000 students. Our vision is to be the largest producer of college graduates in the RGV,” Garza said.

“We are working very hard to ensure our students get the best education and that they not only get accepted to college but graduate from college. We currently have 100 percent of our students be accepted into college. We are working very hard to get as many of them graduate from college so they can come back to the community to give back to the community. We are excited to be part of this community.”

East-West Connector

Armando Garza spoke on behalf of Hidalgo County Precinct 2 Commissioner Eddie Cantu. Garza said one of the biggest projects Cantu is working on is a road that does yet exist.

Armando Garza

“As Commission Cantu says, we like to blaze a path. One of the biggest needs we have identified for this part of the county is east-west connectors. We are presently developing Dicker Road, next summer, from two to five lanes. It will be a major traffic generator.”

In the case of Arena Drive, Armando Garza said phase one will see construction of the road eastward from Jackson Avenue to the irrigation canal. Phase 2, he said, would come in late summer, 2019. This will be a bridge over the canal to McColl Road to create another east west connector.

“It’s new day for the city of Hidalgo,” Garza said. 

In his remarks at the news conference, Hidalgo City Manager Julian Gonzalez said the city may go back to Ayala to secure funding to expand State Farm Arena. He also said the city’s legislative agenda will include efforts to get an overweight corridor designation for 10th Street in north Hidalgo. Gonzalez said he would be looking for state Rep. Sergio Muñoz’s help with this. Muñoz was in the audience. 

Political Stability

Interviewed after the news conference, Treviño, the Hidalgo EDC chief, said the intention is to develop 30 acres to the south of State Farm Arena for an industrial park with 13 cold storage facilities. On the northern side, Treviño said, 144 apartment units would be built on ten acres, while IDEA’s school would take up 20 acres.

Priciliano (J.R.) Treviño and Sergio Coronado

Asked if Mr. Garza was correct when he said this was a “new day” for Hidalgo, Treviño said: “Absolutely.”

Mayor Coronado was asked by the Rio Grande Guardian why it has taken so long for Hidalgo to be developed, given that it has an international bridge that brings thousands of shoppers to the city every day. 

“We have about 12 million people crossing our international bridge on a yearly basis and our location is perfect. We are going to capitalize on that,” Coronado said. “Within five to ten years you are going to see a new Hidalgo. The mentality has changed. Twenty to 30 years we have lacked political stability. Politicians have come to realize this is the perfect to time to change the pathway of our future.”