MCALLEN, Texas – Mario Reyna, top coordinator for Hidalgo County Prosperity Task Force, has given the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service an exclusive interview on the eve of a forum being held to promote the group.
The forum is being hosted by Futuro RGV. Titled “Building a Thriving RGV,” the event takes place from 8 a.m. to 12 noon on July 13 at South Texas College’s Pecan Campus in McAllen. It is being held in the Student Union Ballroom, or Building U, and it is free of charge.
“The public is welcome to attend,” Reyna said.
In his interview with the Guardian, Reyna revealed that an economic development consultant who helped bring Tesla to Austin and Toyota to San Antonio is now an advisor to the Task Force.
Jon Hockenyos is founder and president of TXP, Inc., an economic analysis and public policy consulting firm founded in 1987 in Austin, Texas.
A profile on TXP and Hockenyos are included at the end of this story.
“So recently, a couple of individuals have been added to the Prosperity Task Force. One individual is Eddie Aldrete. He’s a communications expert,” Reyna said.
“Another individual is an economist by the name of Jon Hockenyos. Jon is the individual that helped Austin get Tesla and San Antonio get Toyota. So, there are hundreds of people involved in this activity, with the main purpose of helping those that need help.”
Reyna, a former dean of business at South Texas College, said the purpose of the Task Force is to help the residents of Hidalgo County that need help, along with developing more human capital.
“Currently, the Task Force has 13 groups. The groups are dedicated to helping people that need help. For example, we have a food insecurity group, we have a medical services group, a transportation group, a housing group. So, all these individuals are working extremely hard to help those that need help. So they can go out, find a job, get better skills so they can get better jobs. That’s the intent of the Prosperity Task Force.”
In the interview, Reyna announced that the Prosperity Task Force is working with UT-Rio Grande Valley, South Texas College and the other institutions in order to secure a “We Compete” grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
“This particular grant is going to be about $50 million. The purpose of this grant is to help individuals aged 25 to 54 get better skills so they can be better prepared for better jobs.”
Reyna said work on the grant application has just started and should be completed some time in December.
“We don’t know, obviously, if we will get the money but the grant is designed for our area because we have such a huge disparity between wages and the workforce,” Reyna said.
Reyna said if the Task Force secures the grant, “we’re going to target those individuals that need the most help, and then we become a more attractive community for any business to come in and set up.”
Asked if he was positive about getting the grant, Reyna said: “We’re positive. The grant was designed for this community so we hope to get it.”
Since then, TXP has grown into a team of professionals whose diverse backgrounds allow us to craft customized solutions to client problems. Our clients have discovered that TXP is the firm to hire when there is not an immediate, obvious, or simple solution to their economic or public policy challenge. Our reputation for having the right people to analyze issues from a variety of perspectives has made TXP the firm to call first for professionals in the public sector and business arenas. In addition to drawing on the expertise of our firm members, we regularly partner with urban planning, engineering, and public policy firms — as well as Ph.D.s in varying disciplines — to put together teams uniquely suited to our clients’ needs.
TXP consults on a range of projects across the country. Our best work happens when we help our clients define and shape an emerging issue; the sooner we’re brought into the process, the better the outcome. We have worked with a wide range of not-for-profits and private sector clients to provide illumination through analytical support, always with a strategic view of the big picture. Members of TXP are involved in the community and understand the challenges faced by an increasingly complex world, as heightened media attention and an ever more diverse set of stakeholders shine a brighter spotlight on public decision-making and public policy.
About Jon Hockenyos
Following stints as an aide to a member of the British Parliament and work on a Senatorial campaign in his home state of Illinois, Mr. Hockenyos founded TXP while attending the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin in 1987. Since then, TXP has successfully completed hundreds of projects for a wide variety of clients, with a strong record of on-time, on-budget delivery.
In his role as President of the firm, Mr. Hockenyos is involved in managing the day-to-day operations of the organization, performing technical analysis, and developing strategies for clients. In addition, he makes numerous public presentations and speeches. Mr. Hockenyos has served as a resource witness on a variety of issues in front of city councils, state legislatures, and the U.S. Congress.
Mr. Hockenyos’ private sector background extends beyond TXP. He is currently a board member of Seton Healthcare and American Bank of Commerce. He also served on the Board of Directors for Capital Metro (the Austin area transit authority), the Board of the ARC of the Capital Area, and the Travis County Citizen’s Advisory Council. Mr. Hockenyos’ personal business interests also include restaurants, real estate, and infrastructure/water development.
Mr. Hockenyos received a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Illinois and Masters of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs, where he has taught as an Adjunct Professor.
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