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Valley leaders discuss local economy, voice rising issues during Sen. Cornyn's visit

1 month 2 days 1 hour ago Thursday, September 16 2021 Sep 16, 2021 September 16, 2021 12:42 PM September 16, 2021 in News - Local

Sen. John Cornyn met with Valley leaders at the Port of Brownsville on Thursday to discuss the local economy and how it’s leading to improving employment and growth for the area.

At the function meant to highlight the progress of the Rio Grande Valley’s job industry, Sen. Cornyn started out a roundtable discussion over the topic of vaccines, telling those in attendance that the intensive care units he visited in a Dallas hospital last week was full of unvaccinated patients.

“People have the freedom to make their own decisions about that — I think we’ve ought to use good old-fashioned facts and logic and persuasion and encourage everybody to get vaccinated,” Cornyn said.

A total of 15 representatives from the Valley raised their own concerns about rising issues within the area.

Cameron County Judge Eddie Trevino spoke first about his mounting frustration over the continuing closures to their bridges that are not allowing non-essential travel into the U.S. under direction of the federal government. Trevino says the county has lost as much as $500,000 as a result.

“Our ports of entry are suffering and therefore our cross-border trade on both sides are suffering and we need that,” Trevino said.

Shortly after, Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez stating that as much as 40 percent of residents within his county are living in poverty, doubling down that education is the pathway for high-paying jobs.

“We need to create the human capital of all you educators here. We need to create human capital because we’re not going to solve the poverty issues by simply giving money to people. We have to give them opportunity,” Cortez said. 

The Port of Brownsville maintains around 4,000 employers. More than 95 percent of their exports go to Mexico.

Representatives from the Valley’s colleges stating to Sen. Cornyn that they are able to continue providing the education to those interested in these high-paying jobs. From high school students to those attending college, members of the conversation on Thursday were hopeful that the port might act as a way to keep skilled workers within the Valley.

“They don’t need to go somewhere else," said chairman of the Brownsville Navigation District Sergio "Tito" Lopez. "I get tired of seeing where — we need to change the ‘maquiladora’ mentality where we educate our kids and they leave. It's time for them to stay here.”

During the roundtable, there was also discussion on how to attract more businesses similar to SpaceX. 

Sen. Cornyn said he’ll be taking several of these issues out to D.C.

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