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San Antonio Mayor Fosters Strategic Alliance with Rio Grande Valley Mayors

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As originally published in Texas Border Business newsprint edition April 2023

By Roberto Hugo González

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg recently met with several Rio Grande Valley mayors in Weslaco at Arturo’s Restaurant. Among those in attendance were Mayor David Suarez of Weslaco, Mayor Ramiro Garza of Edinburg, Mayor Javier Villalobos of McAllen, Mayor Norma Sepulveda of Harlingen, Mayor Norie Garza of Mission, and Mayor Trey Mendez of Brownsville.

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Mayor Nirenberg expressed his gratitude to Texas Regional Bank for organizing the event. Nirenberg emphasized the importance of addressing challenges such as generational poverty, lack of access to education and good jobs, affordable housing, and public safety to improve the lives of San Antonio’s residents.

L-R: Edinburg Mayor Ramiro Garza; Mission Mayor Norie Garza; Weslaco Mayor David Suarez; San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez, Harlingen Mayor Norma Sepulveda, and McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos. This meeting is the beginning of forming a mayor’s alliance to gain a better seat at the commanding table in Texas and the nation. Photos by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

“As the Mayor of San Antonio, I am proud to share that our city consistently ranks among the fastest growing in terms of population. Having moved to Texas when I was three and lived in San Antonio since 1995, I take great pride in our city’s rich cultural heritage and history, which make it such an attractive destination for visitors. I am honored to be a part of our compassionate and collaborative bi-national community as a resident and Mayor,” he said.

In a recent conversation with Texas Border Business, he discussed San Antonio’s focus on overcoming the challenges faced in recent years. “The pandemic has prompted us to concentrate on our city’s economic fundamentals, addressing the historical issue of generational poverty and limited access to education and employment opportunities. Our efforts have been directed toward providing skill training and fostering economic mobility across the city.”

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L-R: Representing Texas Regional Bank, Jesse Ozuna, Vice President of Public Affairs Economic Development and Public Finance, and Alex Meade, Executive Vice President of Economic Development and Public Finance, flanking San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg. Photo by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

“Affordable housing is another key area of focus for us, as it forms the foundation of our economy. Ensuring that everyone has access to safe and affordable housing is a priority. Additionally, public safety is paramount, as it is vital for residents to feel secure in their neighborhoods.”

The significance of Nirenberg’s outreach to Valley mayors lies in the potential for increased collaboration and trade between the two regions. Nirenberg observed that despite the short distance between San Antonio and Austin, San Antonio shares more similarities with the Rio Grande Valley in terms of culture and history.

“Mayor Nirenberg has been a friend for several years, and his visit to South Texas was highly encouraging to those of us who have sought a better relationship with our friends in Central Texas. Hopefully, this is the first of many collaborative visits between the mayors of South Texas. Photo by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez I look forward to working through formal agreements and joint advocacy to enhance the region’s interests,” said Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez. Photo by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

Nirenberg suggested that the Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio have not received proper representation in political and economic matters at the state and national levels. He urged a stronger partnership between the regions and proposed a formal alliance to leverage a collective voice.

The alliance aims to establish a unified advocacy presence in Austin and Washington. The partnership will involve exchanging best practices and working on economic collaborations to address shared challenges and opportunities.

The collaboration between the regions will focus on strategically important projects and finding ways to develop and enhance transportation infrastructure along the South Texas corridor. This infrastructure improvement aims to boost trade, connectivity, and economic growth, benefiting San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley.

“Our area mayors are purposely collaborating as a region to better all communities. I’m very excited to include San Antonio in this effort. As Mayor Nirenberg pointed out at Monday’s meeting, San Antonio and the RGV have much in common. I look forward to formalizing our efforts to advocate as One South Texas Region,” said Mission Mayor Norie Garza. Photo by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

A May follow-up meeting scheduled for Harlingen will allow the mayors to formalize the alliance and initiate the work on the outlined projects. This collaboration signifies a new era of cooperation between San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley, demonstrating the power of working together to achieve mutual goals and improve the lives of their communities.

Since 2017, Nirenberg has held the position of Mayor of San Antonio. He mentioned that he is currently serving his third term and seeking reelection for a fourth term. Nirenberg added that he could not run for a fifth term due to term limits. Despite this, he expressed that serving his community as Mayor has been the greatest honor of his life.

He said the Rio Grande Valley alliance is particularly significant, highlighting their commitment to fostering regional collaboration. “While we already trade with the Rio Grande Valley, we can explore numerous untapped opportunities together,” Mayor Nirenberg said.

Written by Roberto Hugo Gonzalez, the 2009 SBA Journalist of the Year and a 2009 and 2012 Paul Harris Award recipient.

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