Cascos: Valley’s growth ‘encouraging’

MERCEDES — “Encouraging.”

Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos spoke simply this past week when expressing enthusiasm over the continued progress his native Rio Grande Valley is experiencing; enthusiasm he plans to share as the keynote speaker of the Mercedes Area Chamber of Commerce annual banquet in February.

“It’s very encouraging to see the growth and the job creation not only in Mercedes and in a lot of our communities throughout the state, but principally the Valley,” Cascos said.

The secretary’s remarks follow recent groundbreakings in the Queen City for the new Family Practice Residency Clinic — a $3.5 million project borne out of a partnership between Mercedes, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, Knapp Medical Center and its Community Care Foundation — and the nearby Mid-Valley Nursing & Rehabilitation. The latter will accommodate 123 beds inside of 48,500 square feet to be constructed for $7 million on the six acres directly behind the residency, which itself will be 12,000 sq. ft.

These medical facilities, university and local officials hope, are expected to create what Dr. Francisco Fernandez, the founding dean of the UTRGV medical school, called a “health hub” in the Mid-Valley.

Also anticipated is the creation of more than 120 full-time jobs at the nursing facility and, within 20 years, as many as 180 more physicians serving the Valley’s health needs.

The scope of these projects can be emphasized, according to Cascos, by the impact SpaceX will have on the region, UTRGV’s influence growing into the second-most appropriated university in the UT System, and a satellite campus for Texas A&M University in College Station to launch in McAllen.

“Texas has a good history of job creation and entrepreneurship, and these are all positive things,” Cascos said. “UTRGV, SpaceX, the groundbreaking of these facilities — that’s always positive. The more we can invest in them, the better it is for our communities.”

Cascos is no stranger to the Valley. He was born in Mexico, immigrated to the United States as a child, achieved citizenship and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. A Republican who was elected judge to three terms in Democratic stronghold Cameron County, Cascos continued to work as a certified public accountant in Brownsville throughout his entire political career in the Valley. He was appointed secretary in 2014 by Governor Greg Abbott.

Other notable events occurring at the banquet include a year-in-review, which will consist of the Chamber of Commerce, Development Corporation of Mercedes and City of Mercedes accomplishments. In addition to the presentation will be an awards ceremony for Man and Woman of the Year, Lifetime Achievement and Achievements in the Arts as well as Educator of the Year, Civic Leader and Business of the Year honors.

The banquet is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23, at the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show Event Center in Mercedes. For more information about the event or nomination process, call the Mercedes Chamber of Commerce at 956-565-2221.