Workforce

preparation should be the top concern in Hidalgo County, even as

signs of the recession persist.

This is the

determination by County stakeholders, who say that changes

nationwide are leading the way for a new approach to the regionís

economy.

In the aftermath

of various forums with the public, as well as surveys and

interviews within the business community, economic experts have

spoken collectively, and for the next few weeks, the general public

will get the same chance.

Hidalgo County

Judge Rene Ramirez, commissioners and economic experts from across

the Valley have released their plan for the next five years of

economic development; and while the verdict is in, plans are not

entirely set in stone for the Countyís first ever Comprehensive

Economic Development Strategy (CEDS).

As reliance on

Maquiladoras, which have long been a driver of growth for Hidalgo

County, continues for now. It may not be a viable long-term

strategy for the regionís economy, according to stakeholders, who

say that Hidalgo County “needs to begin embracing an

innovation-based, technology-driven future.”

CEDS is now

available for public comment. The plan focuses on six economic

development goals, according to the county.

They include:

Growing Hidalgo Countyís economy; creating a globally competitive

workforce; bolstering existing and new regional collaboration

efforts; improving regional physical infrastructure; meeting the

comprehensive mobility needs of the region; and establishing

Hidalgo County as the premier location for healthcare in South

Texas.

“The important

input that is provided by the public is critical to completing the

plan weíve come up with through extensive research, public meetings

and under the direction of the IGNITE strategy committee,” Judge

Ramir

"Nimbus Roman D">é

"Nimbus Roman D">z said. “It

should reflect the economic interests of all the citizens of

Hidalgo County.”

Commissioners are

now soliciting feedback from the public until Sept. 7. Comments

will be incorporated into the document where applicable. The final

strategic plan will later be submitted to the Economic Development

Administration.

Copies of the

draft report are located at the Hidalgo County Judgeís Office; at

the University of Texas-Pan American, International Trade and

Technology Building, Room 1.404K, or online at

"http://www.co.hidalgo.tx.us/ignite">www.co.hidalgo.tx.us/ignite

or the IGNITE Wiki page,

"http://hidalgocountyceds.org/wikispaces.com">http://hidalgocountyceds.org/wikispaces.com.

Written comments

can be submitted online at

"http://www.co.hidalgo.tx.us/ignite">www.co.hidalgo.tx.us/ignite

or by e-mail to

"mailto:ignite@hidalgocountyjudge.com">ignite@hidalgocountyjudge.com.

Comments can also be faxed to (956) 318-2699 or mailed/dropped off

at the Hidalgo County Judgeís Office, located at 100 E. Cano,

Edinburg, TX 78539.