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Petra Reyna, of The Reyna Network, is pictured with hotel and conference center developers Deven Bhakta and Britt Pate in San Benito last month.

WESLACO, RGV – An economic development consultant used the public comment section of a recent Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council meeting to urge support for Jorge D. Ayala.

Ayala is currently area director in Austin, Texas, for the Economic Development Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce. He is in the running to be regional director of the EDA, which would give him oversight of infrastructure development, capacity building and economic adjustment assistance in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.

Petra Reyna, of The Reyna Network, told LRGVDC board members that Ayala was a good friend to the Valley.

“As many of you are aware, Pedro Garza retired in December. The EDA is in the process of hiring the next director. I highly recommend, for those of you who that do business with EDA, to support Jorge Ayala,” Reyna said.

“Jorge Ayala, I understand, is on the shortlist and is being considered as the next director for EDA. I know for a fact that through my company, we did about $12 million worth of projects throughout the entire Valley. It is a very, very, good program for us. It brings investment dollars into our communities that are distressed and I think you all know the value of having someone who understands the Valley, that is a good friend and that we have access to.”

Reyna then handed out a short bio of Ayala, plus contact details should the cities and counties that make up the LRGVDC wish to write letters of support for Ayala.

“I have contacted some of the companies that I do business with and they are sending in letters. They are also CC’ing the congressmen of our area, the congressional delegation of our area, so that they are aware we are supporting Jorge’s selection.”

Here is the bio on Ayala that Reyna distributed:

“Jorge Ayala became area director of the EDA Austin regional office in 2006. The EDA regional office covers a five state area including Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. As area director, Jorge oversees infrastructure development, capacity building and economic adjustment assistance in Louisiana, and South Texas with an active portfolio of over $200 million in active grants. He is also currently part of a leadership rotation serving as acting regional director while a permanent replacement is determined.

“For 20 years he has worked with EDC in several capacities, including director of operations management and project engineer. Jorge has been involved in infrastructure projects in all five states. In 2003, he received the U.S. Department of Commerce Silver Medal Award for his work with the Economic Development District funding program. He is currently leading a national EDA team charged with modifying the application process for all programs in EDA.

“Jorge holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University-Kingsville and a Master’s of Science in Engineering Management from the University of South Florida. He and his wife Caryl live in Austin, Texas, and they are proud parents of two sons, Isaac and Steven.”

Reyna said those wishing to write letters of support for Ayala should contact Jay Williams, assistant secretary, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue, NW, Suite 78006, Washington, D.C., 20230.

Garza, the former regional director of the EDA, was highly regarded by economic development leaders in the Valley and won the START Center’s Freddy Fender Humanitarian Award last October.