MCALLEN, RGV – South Texas College’s 5th Annual Binational Innovation Conference takes place at the college’s technology campus in McAllen on Oct. 20, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The main theme is regional urban development and planning. Among the speakers are Carlos Marin of the Ambiotec Group, Laura Warren, of Warren Group Architects, Blake Hastings from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and Mike Rhodes, of developer of Tres Lagos.

Mario Reyna

“It promises to be a fantastic event,” said Mario Reyna, dean of business, public safety and technology at STC. Reyna launched INNO five years ago with Juan Rosendo Martínez Gómez, president of the Instituto Internacional de Estudios Superiores (IIES).

Kevin Peek, an economics professor at STC who has made a presentation at the conference before, said the goal of INNO is to promote regional economic growth and development through stimulating innovation in both the public and private sectors.

“In particular, emphasis is placed on providing information and resources to facilitate the success of new and existing business interests. In the past, conference-topics have ranged all the way from the role played by technological innovation in the ongoing expansion of commercial activity to the importance of entrepreneurship for private enterprise in the Rio Grande Valley and Reynosa,” Peek told the Rio Grande Guardian.

“This year’s topic will address new innovations in ‘regional urban development and planning.’ With the continuous growth of the Rio Grande Valley, fueled largely by ongoing commercial investment, the importance of urban development and planning to the success of both private and public sector activities cannot be underestimated.”

Peek said the conference organizers would like to extend a special invitation to all individuals and groups who are interested in learning more about regional urban development and planning and how it can benefit them and their particular business enterprise.

“As INNO 2017 is a collaborative binational undertaking between STC and El Instituto Internacional de Estudios Superiores (IIES) in Reynosa, Mexico, experts from both sides of the border have been invited to participate as speakers and panel members,” Peek said.

Kevin Peek

The Conference is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. with a brief welcome from Dr. Shirley A. Reed, president of South Texas College, and IIES President Martínez Gómez.

“The featured speakers will include Mr. Blake Hastings from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, who will provide an economic overview of the Rio Grande Valley; Mr. Carlos Marin of Ambiotic Civil Engineering, who will discuss specific innovations in urban development and planning and how they impact our region; and Mr. Mike Rhodes of Tres Lagos Development, who will discuss how effective urban development and planning benefits businesses and the overall public,” Peek said.

In addition to the keynote speakers, the Conference offers two panels on topics related to regional urban development and planning.

The first panel is entitled, “Urban Development in the RGV” and will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The panelists, all experts in the areas of economic development, municipal governance, and urban planning, include Michelle Leftwich, assistant city manager for the city of McAllen; Michael Leo, director of economic development for Hidalgo County; Sergio Contreras, president of Rio Grande Valley Partnership; Pilar Rodriguez, executive director of the Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority; and Rose Benavidez, president of Starr County Industrial Foundation.

The second panel is scheduled to run from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and will address the relationship between business growth and expansion and effective regional urban planning. It is comprised of Leticia Flores from the Office of the Governor; Keith Patridge, president and CEO of McAllen Economic Development Commission; Victor Perez, executive director of Pharr Economic Development Corporation; Alex Meade, CEO of Mission Economic Development Commission; and Agustin Garcia, executive director of Edinburg Economic Development Commission.

The Conference will conclude at 3:30 p.m. with closing remarks from Reyna, STC’s dean of technology.