Valley mayors: Time to commit to truly being one region with one voice

“One region, One voice” was the theme of the 2023 RGV Economic Summit. It was hosted by the Rio Grande Valley Partnership.

EDINBURG, Texas – The Rio Grande Valley Partnership hosted their 2023 RGV Economic Summit at the Bert Ogden Arena on Thursday. 

State and local leaders from all four counties gathered to discuss moving forward as “one region, one voice” – the theme of the event – for the prosperity of the all.

“Our goal is to get companies to locate and grow in the greater Rio Grande Valley area,” said RGV Partnership Chairman Patrick McDonnell. “We don’t favor one company over another. Once a company indicates an interest geographically, we hand them over to the local city and county officials. When one area of the Valley wins, we all win.”

Edinburg Mayor Ramiro Garza Jr. and Harlingen Mayor Norma Sepulveda shared the stage to give the welcoming remarks for the much-anticipated assembly. 

“We’ve been waiting for an opportunity like this – a chance to come together as a united region, setting aside any boundaries or any differences that we may have, just to focus on a common goal: the economic development of our Rio Grande Valley,” said Garza. “The time has come for us to work hand in hand towards a brighter, prosperous future.”

In her speech, Sepulveda recognized the cutthroat attitudes of the past, but urged the audience to look ahead to better days. 

“We are here to acknowledge the invisible boundaries that have stifled growth in our region – boundaries that have, unfortunately at times, created a culture of competition instead of collaboration between cities,” said Sepulveda. “But, I have some good news. That ends today … The time is now to set aside political ideologies and to commit to truly be one region, one voice.”

Alex Meade, executive vice president for economic development at Texas Regional Bank, relayed a story about his experience learning from different sectors across the state to improve the region. While attending a conference in North Texas, Meade befriended a man from a local economic development corporation who told him the Valley’s failures were mostly self-imposed.

“He says, ‘What we do is we work together in recruiting companies … and once we know they’re locked to our region, we turn around, stab each other in the back, and get them to our communities,’” joked Meade. “And he says, ‘You all stab each other in the back before you lock them in the region’ … But, I can tell you that today that’s about to change.”

RGV Partnership CEO Daniel Silva, Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, and Texas Economic Development & Tourism Executive Director Adriana Cruz also spoke about the momentous day, leading to Gov. Greg Abbott’s closing keynote speech. 

Abbott, who has visited the Valley more than any other of his predecessors, commended those in attendance and spoke of the enormous potential of the area – the reason for his frequent appearances.

“The RGV is perhaps the fastest-growing region of all of the regions across the state of Texas,” said Abbott. “You truly are the epicenter of the booming Texas economy. The Texas of tomorrow is going to be built here in the Rio Grande Valley.”

To conclude the summit, representatives, county judges and mayors from more than 40 cities signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), pledging their commitment to unity in name and practice. Previously disjointed efforts to recruit will now be consolidated, and potential investors will be able to view demographic and other key data from the RGV Partnership website.

“By all of us coming together as one region, now investors – whether they’re from Mexico or any place around the world – they can now view and compare our area to Dallas-Ft. Worth, to the North Carolina Triangle, to the Greater Phoenix economic area,” said Garza. “We can now be compared because we are now 1.4 million people.”

For more information, you can visit the RGV Partnership website here.

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