McAllen and the region remain economically strong according to Mayor Richard F. Cortez in his annual State of the City address last week to a room filled with elected officials, citizens, members of the city commission and the McAllen Public Utility Board.

Over 800 people attended the event at the McAllen Convention Center, where Cortez announced the state of the McAllen economy, the accomplishments of the past year and goals for 2009.

“Our goal is to attract and maintain human capital to our city. This is reflected as one of our goals for the coming year,” said Cortez. He added “We have the best and brightest in McAllen and we want to retain them and attract others to our city.”

Cortez reviewed the major accolades for the city of McAllen in 2008. Some of the major points were: McAllen being rated as one of the fastest growing cities in the real estate market, named one of the strongest in the housing market and ranked in the top 50 best places to live.

Other major points noted were the entertainment district, lighting along the expressway, and the maquila industry, as well as commerce and trade relations with Mexico. He said they will work in making the legal ports of entry more efficient and improve road systems to and from international bridges.

“We are adopting policies which will diversify the area’s revenues and enhance and secure McAllen’s long-term financial position,” said Cortez. He added, “The City of McAllen is positioned and prepared to take advantage of our future.”

Cortez also announced a business plan, recommended by Mike Perez, Steve Ahlenius, Keith Patridge and Greg Townsend, which had seven goals for the city of McAllen.

Some of the goals outlined were to enhance McAllen’s image as a creative classy city, sustain and expand retail sales tax income, diversify the area economy and city revenues, promote a safe city, enhance and improve McAllen’s image related to education.

On the Federal Legislative Agenda, he said he would be asking federal officials for a more efficient trade by having faster lanes, the need for immigration reform and visa extensions for visitors who cross to the U.S.

Many anticipated the mayor would mention the announcement of the auto plant making the move to McAllen, but said he was not at liberty to make the announcement.

“I cannot make any announcement other than we continue to have our discussions and negotiations with them. I can tell you that everything is moving towards that direction,” he said.

He mentioned the unnamed auto company has an interest is coming to the Valley.

“I am optimistic of the future and this would be a fantastic, situation for us her because it would create the type of jobs and energy that we need to have,” he said.

A possible new slogan was revealed to the audience but said the City Commission will look at all suggestions before deciding on one.

New projects for the city include the new McAllen library set to open in 2010, which will be one of the largest libraries in the state of U.S.; improvement of city parks, more growth for retail and hotel industry.