Expecting a significant boost for the region following the 2010 Census, Edinburg mayor Joe Ochoa believes the city can easily hit 100,000 residents by 2019.

The mayor spoke following an event organized in his honor by the National Association of Latino Elected & Appointed Officials (NALEO). Ochoa was honored, along with Sen Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen who could not attend the event due to obligations in the 81st Legislative Session.

A greater population means an increase in federal money, more businesses being drawn to the city and continued growth of the community, Ochoa said. The mayor believes that with “good leadership” the city can even surpass the 100,000 mark.

“Edinburg will be over 100,000 in the next 10 to 15 years very easily,” Ochoa told the Edinburg Review after the NALEO event. “With this continued growth, the ability this community has, and if we continue to get good leadership here it will be easily over 100,000.”

During the 2000 Census, the city counted about 48,000 residents, or about 2,000 short of being able to apply for increased federal funding in the community, according to Ochoa. In the 2010 count the city will, at the very least, hit the 75,000 population mark, he said.

Getting the recognition of NALEO, and their knowing of the leadership in the Valley is going to change everything, Ochoa said.

“NALEO saw it in this past election, including the number of people that came out to vote, and the stability that this area has had which says this is the front door to growth in the country,” Ochoa said. “Knowing that from the previous election about how many people came out to vote, and how many people are not counted, makes a lot of sense in getting an organization like this (NALEO) involved and getting residents organized in order to be counted so we can get our fair share of money that should be coming down here, and should have already been for some time now.”

NALEO is a non-partisan leadership organization comprised of more than 6,000 Latino elected and appointed officials. To date, it’s presence has been focused primarily on major markets for Latinos like Los Angeles, where the organization is currently headquartered.

Representatives from the organization will be “pushing hard” for the Census, which can mean increased federal dollars, grants, and Congressional seats for the area.

The Census is an important issue for NALEO, as the organization wants to ensure that national entities are taking into account the needs and challenges involved with counting the Latino community, according to NALEO spokespersons.

“There is no question that the Valley is an important place in the leadership of Latino elected officials, with the size of the population … I think we have always recognized that,” said Erica Bernal, senior director for programs for NALEO. “When so many of the other communities are literally falling apart, it says a lot of the tremendous leadership that has been exercised here.”

On a national level NALEO will be implementing its “Ya Es Hora” campaign along with national media partners to ensure that there are public service announcements and news stories in an effort to connect the community with the activities of local elected officials.

NALEO is preparing school kits, sample resolutions and sample materials that cities will be able to use throughout the upcoming census, according to Bernal.

“So leaders this year, when the rubber hits the road and people start thinking and working towards the Census we want to make sure that as many as our members throughout the nation have the opportunity to know what the latest information is and have the best tools available to them to carry out the work that will happen at the local level,” Bernal said.