As I reflect on the last 24 years of being part of the Rio Grande Valley community, I learned what is important to you. 

From the moment I arrived in 1996, there was a sense of urgency to create opportunities to address unemployment levels hovering at 24 percent.

Through South Texas College, you and I worked together to improve this situation and look at where we are now. You wanted more educational programs to provide better opportunities for you and your loved ones, and look at what you did by working with South Texas College.   

I was the dean of business, public safety, and technology during most of my tenure with the college. Together, we created the most successful community college in the country because many of you served on our advisory committees. I heard all of you loud and clear – you want prosperity to continue for all, you want McAllen to be a destination, and many of you want a better quality of life. 

We all want McAllen to be prosperous. Prosperity is something one feels when everything around is flourishing and thriving with positive financial results. Economists will tell you for this to happen; you need to be more efficient or productive.   

McAllen is doing great, but you want this engine of prosperity to continue because we cannot rest on our current successes. Can you imagine Apple not producing iTunes or the iPhone just because they were successful with their Mac Computers – never! The same is true for McAllen as a community.   

As I listen to many of you in the community, you want McAllen to continue to support the entrepreneurs amongst you. Entrepreneurs need access to capital to sustain their new operations, so the resources required by these individuals must be readily available. Also, all the businesses that form our lifeline need continuous and constant attention. The policies and processes that are the backbone for our city must resemble those of Disney World that make you feel like you are going to have a great day. It is effortless to say no to an idea or project; however, saying yes is just as easy if you understand McAllen’s mission. 

Some of you who have a business in McAllen has committed a significant amount of money to provide a product or service. So, time is urgent because banks are collecting interest every day a project is delayed, and the more interest payments you make, the less profit you will make, which translates to being less prosperous. Every day a project is delayed means someone will not get to work and earn money for their family. Less profitable businesses will hesitate to start new projects, which means fewer jobs and opportunities for all. Time is of the essence! 

Many of you talk about making our city an international destination for pleasure and families. Our city is already the center of gravity in the region. With proper planning, we can convert empty spaces into major attractions bringing even more customers to McAllen, creating better jobs for all of us.  

What can be done for this to happen? We can plan for restaurants such as Wildfish Seafood Grille and Ruth’s Chris Steak House, to name a few, to attract more customers. We can also plan for significant family attractions similar to Six Flags to ensure our hotels and restaurants operate at maximum capacity.   

Another point is McAllen is at a strategic location in our county. We can be the Gateway to excellent medical care for many in the state and Mexico. Many of our friends from Mexico fly over us to get to Houston or San Antonio for medical care. Why can’t it be McAllen? So with strategic planning, this too can become a reality. Imagine what it means to have more doctors in our community. The type of professional jobs needed by doctors to succeed will significantly improve our standard of living. Houston and San Antonio have created medical districts that have a significant impact on their local economies. 

McAllen can create a medical district that will produce highly paid jobs, which will generate more growth in other sectors of the local economies. 

All of us want a better quality of life. We want great parks, hike and bike trails, and a sports complex for our children and adults. Furthermore, we want museums that inspire with past and current accomplishments. Our roads should take us to our destination in the least amount of time, and if it rains, we want our drains to expel all the water from our streets quickly.

There is no reason for not having what we want in our lives. All of us can enjoy an excellent quality of life if we work together. Business leaders and city strategic planners can develop a plan to chart the course for our city to ensure we accomplished all the things that will give us a better quality of life in the future.

I bring a diverse and unique set of experiences from my past two careers. I served in the Air Force for over 19 years, nine years as a commission officer, and retired as a Captain in December 1995. I arrived at South Texas College in September 1996 as the director for business and left as the dean for business, public safety, and technology.

I had a great deal of success implementing large initiatives; my most recent was leading the process to create the Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence in Pharr, Texas. This campus will become the educational and training destination for all first responders in the region. 

I have served on my boards and associations. The following are just a few: 

Chairman of the Board, Mission Chamber of Commerce 

Chairman of the Board, Valley Symphony Orchestra 

Board Member, Mission Economic Development Authority, Mission, Texas 

Advisory Board Member, McAllen Economic Development Corporation, McAllen, Texas

My experience and education are the right fit to be your next city commissioner. I have built strong relationships throughout my career that will serve McAlIen’s interests well. I humbly ask for your support in the upcoming election.

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by Mario Reyna, a business consultant based in McAllen, Texas. He is a former Captain in the U.S. Air Force and Dean of Business at South Texas College. Reyna is running for election to the McAllen City Commission in District 3. The above guest column appears in The Rio Grande Guardian with the permission of the author. Reyna can be reached via: [email protected].

Editor’s Note: The Rio Grande Guardian will be running a series of guest columns by candidates running in the local elections in May, 2021. The above column is the first in the series.

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