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Fostering Regional Collaboration: Recap of the South Texas Alliance of Cities Convening in San Antonio-November 6, 2023

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Edinburg Mayor Ramiro Garza Jr. was part of a cohort of Rio Grande Valley mayors, which included leaders from McAllen, Mission, Brownsville and Harlingen, who attended a significant meeting in San Antonio on November 6 as part of the South Texas Alliance of Cities. The event focused on addressing common issues faced by cities in the region and fostering collaboration to tackle these challenges. Image Courtesy of the City of Edinburg

Texas Border Business

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By Roberto Hugo González

On November 6, 2023, the South Texas Alliance of Cities convened its fourth official gathering in San Antonio, Texas, bringing together mayors from various South Texas cities to address common challenges and foster collaboration in the region.

Attendees: Mayor John Cowen, Brownsville, Mayor Paulette Guajardo, Corpus Christi, Mayor Ramiro Garza, Edinburg, TX, Mayor Norma Sepulveda, Harlingen, Mayor Dr. Victor Treviño, Laredo, Mayor Javier Villalobos, McAllen, Mayor Norie Gonzalez Garza, Mission, and Mayor Ron Nirenberg, San Antonio.

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Pictured above from L-R: Mayor John Cowen, Brownsville; Mayor Javier Villalobos, McAllen; Mayor Norie Gonzalez Garza, Mission; Mayor Ron Nirenberg, San Antonio; Mayor Ramiro Garza, Edinburg; Mayor Paulette Guajardo, Corpus Christi; Mayor Norma Sepulveda, Harlingen; and Mayor Dr. Víctor Treviño, Laredo. Courtesy photo.

In an exclusive interview today, Mayor Ron Nirenberg of San Antonio provided valuable insights into the meeting, highlighting key discussions and activities that unfolded during the event.

The South Texas Alliance of Cities Convening served as a crucial platform for addressing critical issues faced by South Texas cities, such as economic development, workforce training, housing affordability, and environmental projects. The rapid population growth and economic expansion in the region have heightened the importance of cooperation among these cities.

Mayor Nirenberg shared his perspective on the meeting, emphasizing the continuation of the alliance’s theme from a previous gathering in Mission, Texas, on July 26, 2023. The primary objective of this meeting was to explore various areas of partnership that could benefit the region collectively. This gathering marked the first time the alliance met in San Antonio, providing an opportunity to showcase San Antonio’s experiences as examples.

The meeting showcased a spirit of collaboration among the mayors and officials present, underscoring the potential for ongoing partnership to address the challenges and opportunities that South Texas cities face collectively.

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Highlighted Activities:

A guided tour of Brooks and Port San Antonio provided valuable insights into regional development and economic growth.

A site visit to the Towne Twin Village affordable housing project highlighted a shared commitment to addressing housing issues, including homelessness.

Virtual discussions with Homeland Security and White House officials focused on border issues and migration challenges.

According to Mayor Nirenberg, the participating mayors were genuinely excited about the engaging discussions. Notably, they had the privilege of meeting with officials from both the White House and the Department of Homeland Security, an event specifically designed for mayors seeking to address pressing issues.

The meeting was conducted virtually and featured prominent figures such as Tom Perez, who serves as the senior advisor to the President and holds the position of director of the Office of Intergovernmental, along with acting Deputy Secretary Kristie Canegallo from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The topics of discussion included a wide spectrum, ranging from migration challenges to security concerns arising from conflicts overseas.

Overall, it appears the meeting was exceptionally productive, offering a platform for discussions and collaborations.

Edinburg Mayor Ramiro Garza inaugural Chair of the South Texas Alliance of Cities and former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros. Courtesy photo

The gathering was attended by mayors from various South Texas cities, including McAllen, Mission, Brownsville, Harlingen, Laredo, and Corpus Christi. Mayor Suarez was the only mayor who couldn’t attend due to a scheduling conflict.

The South Texas Alliance of Cities Convening in San Antonio marked a significant step in fostering collaboration among South Texas cities. The event provided a platform for discussing critical regional issues and exploring potential partnerships to address these challenges collectively. Mayor Nirenberg and the alliance members expressed enthusiasm for future convenings and continued collaboration to benefit the region.

During this meeting, Mayor Nirenberg mentioned, “We ventured into the world of podcasting, joining forces with Chair Mayor Ramiro Garza, whom we proudly appointed as the inaugural chair. Together with Rebecca Viagran, representing the South Texas Business Partnership, we embarked on an insightful podcast session, the fruits of which will soon be available for your listening pleasure.”

The mayor said that the opportunity to collaborate on this podcast arose when the Express News, known for its engaging podcast series, graciously extended an invitation to host their discussion. Their ongoing series focused on the South Texas triangle, and they were thrilled to be a part of it. “The conversation was nothing short of illuminating, and we can’t wait to share some of the remarkable highlights with our audience.”

Agenda Highlights

  • Networking Breakfast & Welcome Remarks (8:00 am)
    • Location: Embassy Suites @ Brooks (Alamo Room)
  • Ready to Work Presentation & Employer Roundtable (9:00 am)
    • Featuring:
      • Mike Ramsey, Director of Workforce Development, City of San Antonio
      • Ben Peavy, Chief Information Officer, Accenture Federal Services
      • Jennifer Cantu, Senior Vice President/SA Market Manager, Bank of America
      • Allie Perez, Founder, Texas Women in Trades
    • Location: Embassy Suites @ Brooks (The State Room)
  • Housing Bond Overview (9:45 am)
    • Presented by Veronica Garcia, Neighborhood & Housing Services Department Director, City of San Antonio
    • Location: Embassy Suites @ Brooks (The State Room)
  • Brooks Driving Tour (10:15 am)
  • Towne Twin Village Tour (10:50 am)
    • Location: 4711 Dietrich Rd, San Antonio, TX 78219
  • Travel to Boeing Center at Tech Port (11:30 am)
    • Location: 3331 General Hudnell Dr Acc Rd, San Antonio, TX 78226
  • Lunch (12:00 pm)
  • Department of Homeland Security Roundtable (Mayors Only) (12:45 pm)
  • Virtual discussion with:
    • Tom Perez, Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs
    • Deputy Secretary Kristie Canegallo, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Tech Port Gaming Center Tour (Staff Tour) (12:45 pm)
  • Economic Development / Supply SA Presentation (1:45 pm)
    • Featuring:
      • Brenda Hicks-Sorensen, Director of Economic Development, City of San Antonio
      • Ana Bradshaw, Assistant Director of Economic Development, City of San Antonio
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