Research Company Brings Jobs to McAllen

McAllen, TEXAS- Abt SRBI celebrated the grand opening of a state-of-the-art research call
center in McAllen, Texas on July 26th, 2016. With the assistance from the McAllen Economic Development Corporation
(MEDC), Abt SRBI is creating job opportunities in the research call center industry. Over the next five
years, Abt SRBI plans to hire and train a total of 170 new research interviewers with at least 15
supervisory and management jobs.
“With our region having an abundant young, bilingual, skilled workforce in the customer service
industry, Abt SRBI will not have a problem recruiting qualified candidates,” said Keith Patridge,
president and CEO of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation.
Abt SRBI, a subsidiary of Abt Associates, is headquartered in New York City with major offices in
Washington, D. C.; Cambridge, Mass.; and Chicago, employing more than 600 nationwide. Abt SRBI
is a trusted data collection company, conducting research survey campaigns in the areas of social policy,
election polling, health and transportation, among others. Their research and consulting services assist
governmental, academic, media and other non-governmental clients make informed decisions that
improve people’s lives and economic well-being. Clients include ABC News, The Washington Post, the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, University of Pennsylvania, Pew Research, and many other
federal, state and academic organizations.
“We are pleased to be part of the economic growth of McAllen, Texas with the opening of our call
center. We look forward to working with this very welcoming community now and in the future,” said
Abt SRBI President and CEO Michael W. Link.

The new Abt SRBI call center is located on Hackberry Avenue in McAllen.
For information or employment opportunities, visit their website at


McAllen, Reynosa to Join Brownsville-Inspired BiNED Initiative

Keith Patridge. Photo Courtesy of the Rio Grande Guardian.

Keith Patridge. Photo Courtesy of the Rio Grande Guardian.

The cities of McAllen and Reynosa, as well as Hidalgo County and the city of Edinburg, have been invited to join the Binational Economic Development Zone, otherwise known as BiNED, according to representatives from McAllen Economic Development.

Until recently, the organization has been largely an initiative driven by communities in Cameron County.

In 2014, the cities of Brownsville, Harlingen, and Matamoros signed a historic proclamation endorsing the creation of BiNED to foster economic collaboration between the three communities. The objective is to develop a competitive, innovation driven, advanced manufacturing area spanning and operating seamlessly across the U.S.-Mexico border, according the organization’s website.

The addition of cities in Hidalgo County means that the right elements are being put in place to make the entire region one of the most competitive locations for manufacturing in the world, according to McAllen MEDC CEO Keith Patridge.

“The whole goal is to make the entire border one of the top-three advanced manufacturing centers in the world,” Patridge said. “I have set that goal, but we have all bought into it.”

There are at least four goals needing to be worked on, according to Patridge. Through BiNED, Patridge said he would like to work on reintroducing the concept of an International Combined Metropolitan Statistical Area (ICMSA). He would then be in favor of a study of assets as well as asset mapping in order to gauge where the region is most deficient in the ability to support advanced manufacturing, he said.

The third goal would be to look at workforce and training, and the fourth would be to start reviewing supply chain opportunities in order to identify those resources being purchased outside the area, which can be purchased here instead.

“What we need to do is help fill our local supply base to the point where they can support the companies that are here,” Patridge said. “The key is to build that local support base because if we do that, we could become among one of the most competitive locations for manufacturing in the world. That’s one of the things that has happened.”

Through BiNED, Patridge said he has been in contact with Guillermo Fernandez, who is the executive director for the Mexico/U.S. Foundation for Science (FUMEC) based in Tijuana, Mexico. The organization focuses on all the research labs in Mexico, and works with the U.S. in the areas of innovation and technology.

Patridge said he was asked to a member of the FUMEC foundation board, where he immediately began pitching the idea of BiNED. His Mexican counterparts became excited because they were trying to install something similar on the border between…

Read more at The Rio Grande Guardian.

Allegiant Flights From McAllen to Orlando, L.A., Set to Resume This Spring

Photo Courtesy of Gabe Hernandez of The McAllen Monitor.

Photo Courtesy of Gabe Hernandez of The McAllen Monitor.

Allegiant’s seasonal nonstop flights between McAllen and Orlando and Los Angeles are set to return this spring.

Flights to Orlando will run from May 27 to August 17 four times per week — on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays to Sanford International Airport.

Flights to Los Angeles are set to resume June 4 through August 16, twice weekly on Sundays and Thursdays to Los Angeles International Airport.

Allegiant’s average one-way fare last quarter was just $89.74. Learn more about flight times and fares on Allegiant’s website,

Allegiant recently announced it will add service from Brownsville to Las Vegas, in addition to the…

Read more at The McAllen Monitor.


Reed: STC-TAMHSC Articulation Agreement is Just The Beginning

Dr. Shirley Reed did not get to speak publicly at last Wednesday’s articulation agreement between South Texas College and Texas A&M University Health Science Center.

However, the STC president was present to sign the document. Under the agreement, TAMHSC School of Public Health and South Texas College will launch an undergraduate program to help students earn a bachelor of science in public health.

Reed has provided the Rio Grande Guardian with these remarks:

“This articulation agreement allows students to spend two years at South Texas College and transfer to Texas A&M Health Science Center’s new bachelor’s program in public health. It’s a great opportunity for students interested in the public health field with high demand and tremendous need in the Valley and throughout Texas.

“This is one of many articulation agreements we have with Texas A&M. Our relationship began in 2000 when the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine provided an opportunity for the very best South Texas College students to get advanced admissions into medical school. We then went on to articulate our associate degree in nursing to Texas A&M’s bachelor’s degree in nursing.”

“These are strong articulation agreements, and it’s just the beginning. The Texas A&M School of Rural Public Health is located adjacent to the South Texas College Nursing & Allied Health Campus. The expansion South Texas College is planning right next door is going to provide…

Read more at The Rio Grande Guardian.

McAllen Schools, UT-Austin Collaborate in Social Work Program

University of Texas President Bill Powers shakes the hand of McAllen ISD superintendent James Ponce before announcing the placement of two University of Texas students that will work as social workers in the McAllen independent school district in front of Travis Middle School April 9, 2015 in McAllen. photo by Joel Martinez of the McAllen Monitor.

University of Texas President Bill Powers shakes the hand of McAllen ISD superintendent James Ponce before announcing the placement of two University of Texas students that will work as social workers in the McAllen independent school district in front of Travis Middle School April 9, 2015 in McAllen. Photo by Joel Martinez of the McAllen Monitor.

The McAllen school district welcomed the University of Texas at Austin president and others outside Travis Middle School on Thursday to announce a first-of-its-kind partnership.

“We know that in order for us to be successful, we need partnerships,” said McAllen Superintendent James Ponce. “Today is a special day.”

Starting this fall, two social work students will move to the Rio Grande Valley to engage students throughout the district for up to five months.

The university is already placing students throughout the country through similar partnerships, but this will be the only one in the Valley.

 “It is long overdue that we have some of these partnerships and place some of our student here in South Texas,” said UT-Austin President Bill Powers.

Powers said there are many students at his campus that moved to Texas looking for a cross-cultural experience. So when district officials and Annie Holand Miller, of the nonprofit group McAllen Education Foundation, approached him with the idea to collaborate, he immediately thought of the school of social work.

UT-Austin’s Social Work Dean Luis Zayas, who also attended the event, said he joined the conversation around October before both institutions signed an agreement earlier this year.

But for the first semester, university officials decided to start with only two senior students — Karina Ramos, of Dallas, and Marta Morataya, of San Antonio — and plan to…

Read more at the McAllen Monitor.

Texas A&M Study Says Economic Future in Valley is Bright

South Texas’ economic outlook is positive, though some historic weaknesses could pose big roadblocks in the coming years, according to a study recently conducted by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service.

Published in March, the strategic competitiveness study was sponsored by the U.S. Economic Development Administration and authored by Esther Rodriguez Silva, an assistant research professor and member of the Global Supply Chain Lab at TexasA&M University.

“Advanced manufacturing has a lot of possibility in McAllen,” she said. The main reason is that it’s easier for raw materials to be shaped in Mexico where manual labor costs are lower, then trucked across the border to be finished or refurbished as a value-added service before being shipped across the nation.

Lack of natural resources, like water, will be another factor to impact the future of South Texas on the industrial and residential level. Many manufacturing processes rely heavily on water for production.

The overall demand for irrigation water is expected to decrease by 16 percent by 2060, but the demand for municipal use is expected to jump by 124 percent over current levels.

But a major sticking point is the historical lack of educational attainment in the current workforce.

One quarter of the population in the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metro area has less than a ninth grade education. Nearly 40 percent of residents have completed some high school, and 17 percent have attended college but do not hold a degree. Fewer than 5 percent of area residents have an associate’s degree and about 15 percent hold a bachelors degree or higher.

The study reported that there is opportunity for some..

Read more at the Brownsville Herald.

Brew-seum: Annual week-long Celebration Brings in More Food, Select Beers and Special Events

Photo courtesy of the McAllen Monitor. Story by Amanda A. Taylor.

Photo courtesy of the McAllen Monitor. Story by Amanda A. Taylor.

Entering into its seventh year, the International Museum of Art and Science is hosting the annual “A Night at the Brew-seum” at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 11, at the museum in McAllen.

The event has grown since 2008, celebrating craft brews and food during a now week-long celebration dubbed “Brew-seum Craft Brew Week” running from April 7 through April 12.

The festivities start at 9 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, for a Brew-seum Bash at The Flying Walrus in McAllen. L&F Distributors and Ouch, My Ego! Media are showcasing some of the Valley’s most talented musicians and bands while promoting craft beer.

“We’re coming together with local bands because there is some incredible local talent here,” said Gaby Jones, IMAS Director of Development, PR & Communications. “We put a craft beer of choice at the bar and this is basically so students or young professionals that can’t afford a Brew-seum ticket, since it is a little on the higher end, can still get a sense of what craft beer is.”

The event is free, with the select craft beer being sold for $2 or $3 a glass.

From 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 8, L&F’s Homebrewer’s Tap Takeover is dominating Grain to Glass in McAllen. The public is invited to taste some of the entries from the Battle of the Brew competition and find out who gets the honorary title of “Brewmaster of the Year.”

“Before all of this begins, we actually have a homebrewing competition, Battle of the Brew,” Jones said. “It’s now in its fourth year and it is the only national sanctioned and recognized homebrewing competition south of San Antonio. We began the first year with 11 entries, last year we were up to 60 entries. There’s a big culture here in South Texas for homebrewing.”

The annual Brew-seum Beer Dinner is taking place from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday, April 9, at the museum in McAllen. This year’s beer dinner is being presented by Blue Moon and attendees will be able to taste how beer pairs with and is incorporated with food specially made by House. Wine & Bistro and SALT’s owner and chef, Larry Delgado. Representatives from Blue Moon Brewery will be on site giving…

Read more at the McAllen Monitor.

McAllen Applies to Host 2016 Presidential Debate

The city of McAllen applied Monday to host an upcoming 2016 presidential debate.

Sixteen other cities — including Houston and College Station in Texas — also applied, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates.

McAllen is one of two cities that doesn’t list a university or a college as the debate’s potential location.

Its convention center and its planned performing arts center — the city expects it to be done in time — would serve as the debate hall.

Photo courtesy to MGN Online.

Photo courtesy to MGN Online.

“We felt we had viable venues,” said Omar Rodriguez, the convention center’s facilities director. “We just felt this place was a logical place for a debate.”

Rodriguez said having a debate would draw attention to immigration and border security — national and statewide issues that McAllen deals with on a local level.

“You’re not just bringing in the national press,” he said. “You’re bringing in the world.”

The Rio Grande Valley isn’t a stranger to presidential hopefuls. In the 2008 presidential election, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton stopped by the University of Texas-Pan American. In March 2013, she had a fundraiser in Edinburg. And most recently, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who many expect to run, toured the border last week.

The debate commission called for applicants on…

Read more on the Valley Morning Star.


Ricky Martin to Perform in the Valley

Ricky Martin. Photo courtesy of Google Images.

Ricky Martin. Photo courtesy of Google Images.

International recording artist Ricky Martin will perform Sept. 29 at State Farm Arena, the venue announced Tuesday.

Martin is the latest performer announced through the venue’s #whoisnext campaign, an attempt to draw interest in this year’s musical acts.

This year, Pitbull and Juan Gabriel have already performed. Country music star Kenny Chesney will perform in May and rock legends Aerosmith will take the arena stage in June.

Martin, who last performed in Hidalgo in 2011, began his career in the 1980s as part of the all-boy band Menudo. He then went on to a successful solo career as a Spanish-language artist and also starred in the soap opera “All My Children.” His fame skyrocketed in the late 1990s when he crossed over to the English-speaking market with the release of his hit single “Living La Vida Loca.”

“The public had been requesting this show,” said Mark Solis, State Farm Arena general manager. “We worked with tour promoter Live Nation to…

Read more at the Brownsville Herald.

STC Approves Location of Proposed $21M Library

Location of the new library for STC (Pecan Campus). Story by Danya Perez-Hernandez of the McAllen Monitor.

Location for future library of STC (Pecan Campus). Story by Danya Perez-Hernandez of the McAllen Monitor.

South Texas College’s board of trustees Tuesday approved the future location of a proposed $21 million library at its Pecan Campus.

A 6-0 vote assigned the proposed four-story building to a site that will become the main entrance to the campus. Trustee Graciela Farias was absent at the meeting.

College administrators proposed building a 100,000 to 140,000 square-foot-library during the facilities committee meeting on March 19. But its location was the only decision during Tuesday’s meeting.

This site had been set aside for a new South Academic Building, which will be built using the $159 million bond approved in 2013.

STC President Shirley Reed said the urgency to reassign the location came after…

Read more at the McAllen Monitor.