EDINBURG, RGV – Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina says he believes his city has already hit the 100,000 population mark.

Edinburg came in at 77,100 in the 2010 Census. According to the 2013-17 American Community Survey 5-Year estimate, Edinburg’s population stood at 86,123 in 2017. And now the Census Bureau estimates Edinburg’s population was at 98,665 in 2018.

“I think we are at 100,000 right now and I think the 2020 Census will reveal that,” Molina told the Rio Grande Guardian. “We are easily the third biggest city in the Valley.”

The two cities bigger than Edinburg in the Rio Grande Valley are Brownsville and McAllen. The Census Bureau currently estimates Brownsville’s population at 183,392. The Census Bureau currently estimates McAllen’s population at 143,443.

Molina gave his remarks about Edinburg’s growth at a news conference held to announce an additional $5 million in funding for South Texas International Airport at Edinburg. The funding will help pay for additional hangars. State Rep. Terry Canales was thanked for helping secure the funding during the 86th Legislature. The Edinburg lawmaker spoke at the news conference.

“If you check the growth of the all the cities around the Rio Grande Valley, we are the fastest growing city. In the past year we have added 8,400 residents. The closest city to that in the Rio Grande Valley was McAllen. In the same amount of time they added a little under 800 people,” Molina told the Rio Grande Guardian. 

“So, that tells you it is booming. A lot of people are moving here. We have a residential boom. Our sales tax revenues are up. I have a feeling that if we duplicated what we did from 2017 to 2018 and we look at the numbers from 2018 to 2019, we are already over the 100,000 mark. This separates us from the other cities, it makes it kind of makes it between us and McAllen in this friendly growth spurt.”

Asked if UT-Rio Grande Valley and its four-year School of Medicine were playing a large role in creating the boom in Edinburg, Molina said: “The university and the medical school are definitely a factor.”

Molina advised Valley residents to check out the growth San Antonio experienced when it started developing a medical school in the 1960s and 1970s. What was once a dairy farm is now a huge bio-medical complex in northwest San Antonio.

“The medical school is definitely going to generate a lot of growth for the entire Rio Grande Valley region,” Molina said, noting that UTRGV was ranked No. 5 in BestColleges.com.

“We have No. 5 right here in our back yard, why would we pay more money to take our students to a No. 7 or a No. 8. There are not many other schools that supersede what we are doing right here at UTRGV. There is a special partnership going on here. It is one of the many factors that explain why we are having the growth we are having in Edinburg.”

The same day Molina made his remarks, UT Health unveiled a new state-of-the-art multi-speciality clinic on South Jackson in Edinburg. Molina attended the ribbon-ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Molina told public relations entity Legislative Media Services that the City of Edinburg will be allocating $1 million to UTRGV School of Medicine this year. The cities of McAllen, Edinburg, Pharr and Mission, in addition to Hidalgo County, all pledged to financially support the medical school throughout its early years. 

“We have already earmarked that money. We have a three-to-five year plan and that money is earmarked for the university. It is basically three payments of $333,333 through the year,” Molina said.

Another reason people are moving to Edinburg, Molina said, are the amenities on hand.

“The soccer complex is amazing. The (Bert Ogden) arena, also. These are the things that attract people to move here. Those are quality of life projects that promote families. To me those venues people want to live close to. These are the factors why people are moving to Edinburg,” Molina said.

Molina also noted that Edinburg has room to grow, unlike some Valley cities which are land-locked. Edinburg’s growth will likely be northward with a new east-west corridor planned that will stretch from close to South Texas International Airport all the way to a second causeway at South Padre Island. 

“We have room to grow. The MPO merger is going to be the deal closer to get that FM 1925 corridor complete. To go all the way to the island from Edinburg is going to be incredible,” Molina said.

Another facto contributing to Edinburg’s growth, is affordability of its housing stock, the mayor noted. He cited the experience of a police officer he knows who works for the City of McAllen.  

“We have a lot of land. The price is a little bit more affordable than McAllen. I had a policeman that works for the City of McAllen. He said he was about to purchase a home in McAllen but found the same square footage was $20,000 less in Edinburg. The difference is, the house he was going to buy in McAllen was 20-years-old, as compared to a new-build in the city of Edinburg. I think that might have a lot to do with it when people are searching for houses. It is a better bargain.”

Asked which year Edinburg will overtake McAllen in population, Molina joked: “By the end of my term.”