Joey Gomez

RGV Business Journal

MISSION - The reason the Valley is doing so well is due to a great team of economic and political leaders who are all pulling in the same direction, according to Sen. John Cornyn.

More important than that is how much it means to the people of the Rio Grande Valley in terms of the benefits that flow from close cooperation, leadership and a sense of team, Cornyn said in a brief visit to the Valley on Dec. 16.

Cornyn attended first a ribbon cutting ceremony for Texas Workforce Solutions’ (WFS) new facility in Mission. It was there he also announced the U.S. Department of Labor’s awarding of a $2 million grant for WFS to benefit Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) preparation. The grant was only one of five awarded nationally.

The grant was the only one assisting entities on the U.S. Mexican border, the only one that covers Hispanic and Latino communities, and the only one that has major impact on cross-border or cross-trade kind of jobs, according to WFS.

“When I think of the work you have done this is about hope and this is about opportunity,” Cornyn said to a gathering of county officials, staff from U.S. Reps. Rubén Hinojosa, D-McAllen, and Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and WFS leaders.

“We know many people have been given the opportunity to learn new skills, to get a GED, perhaps if they dropped out of high school…once they get an opportunity to learn new skills that will qualify them for good high paying jobs, they will embrace that opportunity,” he said.

Later Cornyn was the keynote speaker for the expansion of the Pharr-Reynosa Bridge, which is slated to significantly decreases traffic at the port of entry.

The senator’s office helped Pharr fund a third of the cost of the project. The project came in at $3.1 million, the federal government gave $1 million and the City of Pharr came up with the rest, according to a statement put out by the senator.

The bridge processes approximately 125 vehicles and hour, according to bridge officials. By adding two new booths it gives the capacity to process close to 800 vehicles an hour.

The senator said he is wholeheartedly committed to seeing the area has all of the support that he can personally give for programs that actually work, he said.

“One thing that frustrates people about Washington D.C. is they see many programs that don’t work, but this is one that does and we need to continue to support it. I will assure that I will,” Cornyn said about Workforce Solutions.

“The more markets that we can sell, goods and produce, creates more jobs right here at home,” he then said about the Pharr bridge expansion. “We need to invest in the infrastructure and the people that can allow those lanes of commerce to remain open and flow as freely and as fast as they possibly can.”

The program was initiated five years ago at the bridge that added four new lanes and four new inspection booths. Two new lanes and two new inspection booths were added for passenger vehicles. Two new lanes and two new inspection booths were also included for commercial traffic.

“What that does is allow for for more inspections to be processed,” said bridge director Jesse Medina. “Adding the commercial lanes meet the challenge of increased commercial traffic to the area.”