McALLEN, RGV – Transportation is the theme for the 3rd annual binational innovation conference hosted by South Texas College and Instituto Internacional de Estudios Superiores.

Juan Rosendo Martínez Gómez
Juan Rosendo Martínez Gómez

Inno’ 2015 takes place at STC’s technology campus in south McAllen on Friday, Sept. 25, starting at 8:30 a.m. and finishing at 2:30 p.m. On Thursday, Sept. 24, the Instituto Internacional de Estudios Superiores will hold an event at it Reynosa campus to provide opportunities for its leadership and students to learn from each other.

“In order for the Rio Grande Valley to continue to prosper, one of the most vital components that needs to be continuously improved is our transportation system,” said Mario Reyna, STC’s dean of business and technology.

“This conference is designed to explain what is being done in our area to improve the quality of life for our citizens and how all the improvements in our water ports, airports and highways will improve the movement of goods and services.”

Reyna said major developments are being planned for the Valley’s transportation system that will have a significant impact on the region. “We need to let our community know, so they can plan to incorporate this knowledge into their business plans.”

Reyna, a co-founder of Inno, will give closing remarks at the conference. He added: “I believe this conference will energize our community because people will see what our local leaders are doing to improve our mobility, which is a key to an efficient and productive regional economy.”

The conference will open with a welcome and introduction by STC President Shirley Reed. Juan Rosendo Martínez Gómez, president of Instituto Internacional de Estudios Superiores will also speak at the opening of the event. Martínez is a co-founder of the conference with Reyna.

The first topic on the agenda is The Economic Outlook for the Region. This will be given by Dr. Kevin Peek, of STC’s economics department. Eduardo Campirano, CEO of the Port of Brownsville, will talk on the second topic – Port Innovation. The third topic will be Regional Mobility & Transportation Innovation in the Region. This will be discussed by Pilar Rodriguez, executive director of Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority.

Next up will be a panel discussion on Transportation Innovation. On the panel will be Keith Patridge, CEO of McAllen Economic Development Corporation, Agustin “Gus” Garcia, executive director of Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, Sergio Contreras, executive director of Pharr Economic Development Corporation, Rose Benavidez, CEO of Starr County Industrial Foundation, and Julian Alvarez, president of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership.

The keynote speaker during lunch will be Elizabeth Suarez, director of aviation for McAllen International Airport. “It is an exciting time for McAllen International Airport,” Suarez said. “Consider 2014-2015 McAllen International Airport’s bump up to 1st class. McAllen’s airport saw a near record numbers of passengers, double digit growth, claimed half of all passenger boardings in the region, received $10 million for runway safety upgrades and worked toward completing a $26 million expansion as part of a banner year. We are experiencing tremendous growth and the challenge is to meet growing demands while giving Rio Grande Valley travelers the best flying experience possible.”

After Reyna gives the closing remarks there will be a student workshop involving Peek, Fernando Ortiz, director general of Instituto Internacional de Estudios Superiores, STC economics instructors Oscar Plaza, Salvador Martinez, and Laura Leal.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying this story features Eduardo Campirano of the Port of Brownsville, Elizabeth Suarez of McAllen International Airport, and Pilar Rodriguez of Hidalgo County Regional Mobility Authority.