ROB WAGNER Reporter
The keynote speaker was Pedro Garza, who is the regional director for the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA).City, state, and federal officials along with educators broke ground on a UTB/TSC satellite campus to be built in Raymondville last Wednesday morning, in a ceremony hosted by Mayor Orlando “Lonnie” Correa.
“I’m proud to participate in Raymondville youth’s future,” Garza said, referring to the plan for a 13,000 sq. ft. educational center. “I told Yogi let’s do this right – A new state of the art facility – Somewhere near the high school,” referring to City Manger Eleazar “Yogi” Garcia.
“I came from Santa Rosa, a small town, where the money always ran out when I grew up,” said Garza, with passion. “There were no streets, no sewer, and the only roads were caliche.”
“This will be a beautiful facility, and all the partners will make this work,” Garza added. “I’m very privileged to be here today and excited for the youth.”
Officials then turned dirt over with their shovels at the 20 acre site across the street from Raymondville High School on FM-3168, where the facility will be constructed.
Services offered at the center will encompass business development counseling and small business assistance via incubator, basic skills (reading/ writing/math/GED) along with job training, and distance learning.The center will house UTB/ TSC, and the offices of the Development Corporation of Raymondville (EDC), the Raymondville Chamber of Commerce, and Texas WorkForce Solutions, who are the partners that Garza referred to.
There will be two large and three small class rooms, along with two conference rooms, and a community center. Office space has been allotted for WorkForce Solutions, and other city officials.
At a city-hosted luncheon after the groundbreaking UTB/ TSC’s president, Dr. Juliet Garcia, committed key staff to making the satellite campus happen.
“When UTB/TSC launches a project we dive into it all the way,” Dr. Garcia said. “South Texas has never been behind in the state when it comes to education.”
“The new Raymondville campus is our investment in your community,” Dr. Garcia said. “There has always been a thirst for education in the valley and we want to continue to be part of it.”Dr. Garcia said the old Amigoland Mall in south Brownsville was transformed into an educational facility.
State Sen. Eddie Lucio (DBrownsville) said the event (project) reminded him of the movie The Perfect Storm.
“The way this all came together is like the movie,” referring to the partners working together. “Willacy County is my favorite of the five counties I represent.”
Lucio then read a state senate proclamation he drafted for the groundbreaking. A copy is on page 5 of this issue.
U.S. Cong. Solomon Ortiz (DCorpus Christi) and State Rep. Juan Escobar (D-Kingsville) were invited, but sent office staff instead.
Most notable were comments by Denise Blanchard of Ortiz’s office.
“This community has a bright future,” Blanchard said. “Willacy County has been changing for the better, and we’re happy that the EDA has moved to help Willacy County,” referring to a $1.2 million grant that Garza recommended.
“When I first saw this site I did not see the wind or the dirt,” Gonzalez said. “I saw the future.”Yvonne Gonzalez, the President/ CEO of WorkForce Solutions said her organization is committed to “talent development” of people.
“We’re about improving the potential of people and the community,” Gonzalez added. “This partnership is about leading change in Willacy County, and this project is the way.”
Richard Lopez, a field office director with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was the final guest speaker.
“Servant leadership is what the City of Raymondville is doing,” Lopez said, “When Yogi and Jackie met with me, this became evident,” referring to Jackie Roberson, the city’s EDC director.
Lopez quoted a favorite phrase to describe the efforts of city officials and the future.
“Making the effort, not the strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential,” Lopez quoted.
Lopez closed by predicting a bright economic development future for Raymondville and Willacy County.His department awarded a $300,000 grant that will be used to leverage the overall cost of the project.
Mayor Correa thanked all city staff who have worked on the project, along with grant writer Carlos Mondragon, who ushered the city’s applications through the many state and federal bureaucracies.