EDINBURG, Texas – Blanca Davila, director of economic development for the City of Edinburg, was a guest on the Rio Grande Guardian’s Community Spotlight series on Zoom.
The interview gave Davila an opportunity to expand on all the positive news provided by Edinburg city leaders during a recent webinar hosted by the Rio Grande Valley Partnership.
Davila said Edinburg is “growing fast, but growing smart.”
One of the topics discussed was the new approach the City of Edinburg is taking on economic development issues. Davila heads a new city department focusing on economic development. She said the new structure provides a “stronger alignment” with other city departments.
Davila also spoke about the City of Edinburg’s efforts to provide greater transparency for taxpayers and to assist in major regional projects.
Davila has previously been an economic development specialist at the Greater Brownsville Incentive Corporation, and director of community and economic development at the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council.
She holds an MPA in public policy management from UT-Rio Grande Valley and a Bachelor of Science degree in applied sociality from Texas State University. She was also an Archer Fellow at the Archer Center in Washington, D.C.
During the Zoom conversation, Davila explained how her work at LRGVDC helped prepare her for her current role with the City of Edinburg.
The recent webinar hosted by the RGV Partnership saw City Manager Ron Garza discuss the history of Edinburg and its fast growth and Assistant City Manager Brian Kelsey unveil key data points on educational attainment and workforce development.
Davila said the webinar showcased many of the assets Edinburg possesses, including UT-Rio Grande Valley and being County seat for Hidalgo County. In the Zoom conversation she spoke about the city’s focus on entertainment and plans to expand its airport.
Another topic discussed was how Edinburg could benefit from the Texas Enterprise Zone Act. Recently, two of the city’s largest employers, DHR Health and McAllen Hospital LP (South Texas Health System), secured city support in its application for enterprise zone status. This status is determined by the Governor’s Office.
Davila said DHR is proposing to grow and retain 500 jobs, while McAllen Hospital L.P. is proposing to grow and retain 300 jobs.
“We are always looking at job creation for our city. We support their efforts. Whatever they need to expand, we want to see it happening, especially if it means higher paying jobs,” Davila said.
Davila said the City of Edinburg wants less minimum wage jobs and more higher paying jobs. “If the state can come in and provide an incentive, we are going to support that, particularly if it creates jobs,” she said.
Davila was asked what her department would like to see from the upcoming 87th Legislative Session. She said she would like to see the Rio Grande Valley’s digital divide addressed.
“We want to ensure that our representatives and senators know that, while a lot of individuals and residents in a lot of areas have access to the internet, there are many, many areas across the state of Texas, not just this region that do not have access to internet,” Davila said.
“Some may not even have access to electricity. It is a huge issue that will probably take years to resolve. We want to see strong conversations around that.”
When asked if providing broadband to low-income communities might help mom and pop shops, Davila responded: “You would be surprised how many micro entrepreneurs and micro businesses there are in the RGV. Having access to broadband can make all the difference in the world, for online sales and creating their own jobs, being their own boss.”
Davila concluded the Zoom conversation by referencing some up and coming events her department is sponsoring or cosponsoring.