WESLACO, RGV – Advocates for improving the quality of life of veterans, colonia residents, the elderly, disabled and others will get the opportunity to formulate their message for the upcoming legislative session at a meeting on Wednesday.

At a key meeting that takes place from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday at the Knapp Medical Center Conference Center in Weslaco, the Lower Rio Grande Valley’s draft Regional Strategic Plan will be presented for public reaction, suggestions and comment. The draft plan came out of various work sessions around the Valley.

The 84th Legislature meets in Austin in January, 2015.

The LRGVDC, the official Council of Government for Hidalgo, Cameron and Willacy counties, is required to update its Regional Strategic Plan before every regular legislative session starts. This is done in order to “guide the unified, far reaching development of a region, eliminate duplication, and promote economy and efficiency, in a coordinated development of a region, according to LRGVDC Executive Director Ken Jones.

Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council Executive Director Ken Jones and Manual Cruz, the LRGVDC's director of Homeland Security, display a draft copy of the RGV's Regional Strategic Plan.
Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council Executive Director Ken Jones and Manual Cruz, the LRGVDC’s director of Homeland Security, display a draft copy of the RGV’s Regional Strategic Plan.

“Our Regional Strategic Plan is a five-year plan that is updated every two years, just ahead of the legislative session. It is a key process of the Development Council. The Plan goes towards meeting our legislative charge in terms of doing long range planning for our three-county COG region,” Jones said.

“The overall goal of having ‘The People’ participate in the development of the the Strategic Plan is to ensure that the regional priorities that are sent to Austin, and Washington, D.C., meet a comprehensive array of needs, especially in terms of improving the quality of life for veterans, colonias, the elderly, and others, plus many additional aspects of and promotion of job opportunities through economic development.

“Members of the general public, our partners and stakeholders, and the news media, who reside, or operate within the the Valley’s council of governments and economic development district, consisting of all governmental entities within Hidalgo, Cameron and Willacy counties, are invited and encouraged to openly participate in this regional meeting on Wednesday.”

Terrie Salinas, director of the economic development department of the LRGVDC, said the Regional Strategic Plan has become more important in recent years because the federal government and the state government are requiring applications for grants from cities and counties to take into consideration the regional impact of the project.

“Regional planning is more important than ever because of the dwindling funds. Each city or county needs to have their local needs identified in a regional plan. This encourages the smaller cities especially, that do not have the funding, to work with other cities or the county, to do multi-district applications. Both state and federal governments tell us to think regionally and make applications that take into account regional impact. They have a better chance of getting funded,” Salinas said.

Knapp Medical Center Conference Center is located at 1401 East 8th Street, Weslaco, Texas.

The most current Lower Rio Grande Valley Regional Strategic Plan may be reviewed online by going to the COG’s website, www.lrgvdc.org. If Valley residents have questions or would like further information, they are encouraged to contact Manual Cruz at [email protected], or Marcie Oviedo at [email protected], or phone (956)682-3481.

Ron Whitlock is a writer, commentator and public affairs consultant based in the Rio Grande Valley.