AudioValdez: Plans underway to expand runway at Weslaco Mid-Valley Airport by 1,000 feet

At IWS2, Weslaco EDC Executive Director Steve Valdez gave an update on his city’s new industrial park, discussed workforce training, and spoke about the expansion of Mid-Valley Airport.

PHARR, Texas – Steve Valdez executive director of Weslaco Economic Development Corporation, says plans are being developed to bury a canal so that the runway of Mid-Valley Airport can be extended by 1,000 feet.

According to Weslaco Mid-Valley Airport website, the airport currently has a 6,000 x 80 foot lighted runway.

Valdez announced the plans when he spoke at IWS2, the industrial warehouse summit hosted by Pharr Bridge Board and held at Pharr Development and Research Center. 

The theme for the summit was, “Building a Competitive Border Region for Near-Shoring and Industrial Growth.”

Valdez said: “We have a what we believe is the fourth largest airport (in the Rio Grande Valley), behind Harlingen, McAllen and Brownsville. Recently we were awarded with a $5.7 million grant for additional hangars. We just finished about six hangars and so we seem to be growing in terms of the airport.”

Valdez then pointed to a slide in a powerpoint presentation.

“If you can see it… at the very top of the airport there’s a canal and the City is looking at ways to cross that canal. Bury the canal process so that you can extend another 1,000 feet for our airport runway.”

Leaders from across Hidalgo County recently attended a press conference to hear the announcement of the $5.7 million grant. Valdez said that the press conference.

“During the announcement of the $5.7 million we went to the Payne Auto Group hangar, a 10,000 square foot hangar that sits about six airplanes, a beautiful location,” Valdez said at IWS2.

“If you get a chance to stop by there at some point, it is a really nice expansion to our airport. On site (customs) inspections, as you can see. Within one hour, if you call ahead of time, you could have Customs Border Protection be there as well for your inspections.”

The grant for the new hangars came from state and federal resources. State lawmakers appropriated $5 million with Hidalgo County adding $750,000 from its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. A news release from the City of Weslaco about the funding is included at the end of this story.

In another part of his speech at IWS2, Weslaco EDC’s Valdez spoke about the strong ties his group has with South Texas College. He pointed out that STC’s Mid Valley campus is the second largest in the college system.

“We do, I think, an exceptional job with STC. We offer STC a $75,000 grant and in the last three years that we’ve had this program, we’ve trained over 500 employees… so that really helps us to promote any industry that might be looking at Weslaco or our region,” Valdez said.

“We can say that if you’re employed in Weslaco through the STC program, if your skill-set might be short, then through training programs at STC, we can bring that labor force up to skill and whatever requirements they (employers) have.”

Valdez also spoke about the industrial space Weslaco has.

“We have, at minimum, 311,000 square feet of available lease space and 149 acres that has gone from what would have been dirt to now retail space as well. And so that’s evidence of our commercial growth,” Valdez said.

Valdez then discussed Weslaco EDC’s current industrial park and a new one under construction. 

We have about 85 plus companies there (at the first park). They are also intertwined with the airport, as we mentioned before, so that one’s almost at capacity. And that’s one of the reasons why we moved into this new location. It started out at about 150 acres, but because of all of the detention and the road itself, it’s down to about 129.”

Valdez said Glazer’s Beer & Beverage took the largest portion of the new industrial park. He said their building is 45 feet high and about 253,000 square feet. “From what I hear it’s about five football stadiums under one roof so we’re really excited about their anchoring our industrial park.”

Valdez said he was allowed to say there will be McDonald’s and that the EDC has a number Letter Of Intent agreements pending. “So, the commercial lots went really fast.” 

Here is an audio recording of the remarks Valdez made at IWS2:

City of Weslaco Press Release:

Weslaco, TX – August 14, 2023 – State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, Senator Morgan LaMantia, State Representative Mando Martinez, Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez, and Chairman Terry Canales proudly announce the allocation of $5 million in funding for Mid-Valley Airport of Weslaco, with $5 million contributed by the State of Texas and an additional $750,000 from Hidalgo County. This funding marks a significant investment in the expansion and enhancement of the airport’s facilities, cementing its status as a premier general aviation airport in South Texas. 

In expressing his gratitude, State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa recognizes the collaborative effort behind this achievement. He thanked Morgan LaMantia for her leadership and unwavering dedication in working with the members of the Senate Finance Committee to secure $5 million for the Mid- Valley Airport in Weslaco. “Her [Morgan LaMantia] tireless efforts, alongside State Representative Mando Martinez, Chairman Terry Canales, Mayor David Suarez, and the City Commission, have resulted in a significant investment for a hangar expansion.” 

“This funding will enhance the airport’s ability to support our state law enforcement agencies and emergency management personnel, allowing for a more rapid response to emergencies and disasters. The City of Weslaco and the entire Rio Grande Valley will benefit greatly from this investment.” 

Senator Morgan LaMantia praised the successful allocation of funding, she noted the rapid expansion of the Rio Grande Valley, and the importance of prioritizing the safety and well-being of the growing population. “After multiple sessions of effort, I was thrilled that the City of Weslaco received the funding needed for an airport hangar expansion to increase the region’s public safety and emergency management capabilities.” Additionally, Senator LaMantia thanked her colleagues on the Senate Committee on Finance for working with her to make this possible. 

Amid the backdrop of anticipation and commitment to bolstering South Texas’s aviation infrastructure, State Representative Armando “Mando” Martinez’s voice resonates with a vision of progress, “With this funding, Mid-Valley Airport will continue to be one of the premiere general aviation airports in South Texas. Law enforcement agencies and first responders will utilize the hangar for emergencies, including storing and staging emergency aircraft.” Representative Martinez emphasized the airport’s pivotal role, where emergencies are met with precision and lives safeguarded with unwavering dedication. 

Terry Canales, Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation, also shared his excitement. “I am proud to have fought for this $5 million appropriation from the Texas legislature to expand the airport hangar at the Mid-Valley Airport in Weslaco. This investment will bolster our law enforcement  and first responders, providing them with state-of-the-art facilities to enhance their critical missions. The expanded airport facilities will serve as a hub for emergency response activities, enabling our brave men and women to swiftly and effectively respond to any situation. Our commitment to public safety remains unwavering, and this appropriation reflects our dedication to supporting those who protect and serve.” 

Mid-Valley Airport, already renowned for its excellent facilities, will utilize the additional $5 million for the expansion of hangar space. This expansion will allow law enforcement agencies and first responders to respond to emergency situations with greater efficiency, potentially saving lives and ensuring the safety of all residents in the Rio Grande Valley. 

“Today is a remarkable day for our community,” expressed Mayor David Suarez, “as we move forward, let us remember that the true power of this funding lies not just in the amount itself, but in the shared determination it represents. It reflects the partnership between our regional leadership and our dedicated senators. Together, we embark on a journey towards growth, prosperity, and a brighter future for all. This allocation will empower us to enhance infrastructure, expand services, and create an environment that attracts businesses, tourism, and investment.” 

“The Mid-Valley Airport is a critical asset for us to serve the eastern part of Hidalgo County for emergencies and to spur economic development by facilitating general aviation,” said Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez. “So, we are proud to make up to $750,000 available for this endeavor.” 

The $750,000 in ARPA funding dedicated to drainage improvements is expected to significantly enhance the airport’s resilience during adverse weather conditions, further supporting its emergency response capabilities. 

The funding allocation for Mid-Valley Airport showcases the State of Texas’s commitment to investing in infrastructure projects that have a positive impact on public safety and regional development. This development will undoubtedly improve the quality of life for all residents in the Rio Grande Valley. 

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