Sunday, January 31, 2010

NAI Rio Grande Valley Welcomes New Broker!

NAI Rio Grande Valley welcomes Laura Liza Paz to our NAI family

Laura Liza Paz
Realtor Associate
Commercial & Residential Specialist
956.994.8900 ext. 21

Michael Blum, Partner and Managing Broker is pleased to announce that Ms. Laura Liza Paz has joined the NAI Rio Grande Team. “We are really excited about Laura becoming part of our team,” Mike said. “She brings 16 years of Valley real estate experience and a terrific knowledge of the local market. Roger Stolley, another member of the firm, noted “Laura’s representation of both international and domestic clientele and her fluency in Spanish will be very beneficial to our relationships with investors and property owners on both sides of the border.”

Laura Liza Paz has 16 years experience in the Real Estate business. She brings a significant understanding to each transaction, matching the requirements of buyers and sellers to their investment objectives. She has a demonstrated commitment to deliver high quality service to clients, always putting their needs first, thus gaining their trust, confidence, and respect.

Laura Liza’s unique combination of comprehensive analysis, creative problem solving, and market knowledge sets her apart from her peers, allowing her the opportunity to offer her clients the insight and tools necessary to empower their strategic decision – making abilities.

Laura Liza affords you peace of mind in knowing, that you will always receive the highest quality service, her utmost sincere effort, seasoned intelligent direction, and skillful execution to facilitate the closing of each transaction in a timely manner, ultimately exceeding her client’s expectations in every transaction.

Click Here to View Broker Profile

Click Here to Contact Laura Liza Paz

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Build on the power of our network.™

NAI Rio Grande Valley is part of NAI Global, one of the world's leading providers of commercial real estate services. NAI manages a network with 8,000 professionals and 375 offices in 55 countries worldwide. We bring together people and resources wherever needed to deliver outstanding results for our clients, and complete over $45 billion in transactions annually. Our clients come to us for our deep local knowledge. They build their businesses on the power of our global managed network.

Monday, January 18, 2010

MEDC/MFTZ Trains for a Marathon Year of Economic Development

MEDC/MFTZ Trains for a Marathon Year of Economic Development

Friday, January 15th, 2010
By Keith Patridge, President/CEO of McAllen Economic Development Corporation

It seemed like a great idea back in November when staff decided to sign up for the Fiesta Marathon Relay in McAllen. Twenty employees from the McAllen Economic Development Corporation and Foreign Trade Zone formed four teams of five to conquer the 26.2-mile relay early on a Sunday morning in mid-December.

This race became the buzz in the office as several employees met on weekends to train and run laps around the trade zone after business hours. And on race day, we all gathered at the start line before sunrise to take on this marathon.

MEDC/MFTZ staff, joined with friends and family, stood along the race route to cheer on our teams and offer words of encouragement during that foggy, cold morning. Less than six hours later, we all completed the race and despite some soreness, it proved to be a great day. The mileage challenged us, but it drove home the importance of teamwork, efficiency and strategy. It also reminds us of the expression that sometimes in life -and business- it is a marathon, not a sprint. And while we sprint when we have to, this past year tested the endurance of everyone in business.

Economic development in 2009 was a long, grueling marathon. The slow economic conditions have caused some companies to be more cautious and hesitant, but it doesn’t mean we give up. This “marathon” challenges the MEDC team to be patient, more innovative and aggressive.

We have talked about the auto plant for some time, and it is still moving forward. McAllen continues to be in that race and hopefully we will have some positive news to report in 2010. And although the year has proved slower than usual, we have secured 18 new companies in Reynosa and McAllen, plus existing companies added 723,000-square feet of industrial space in the McAllen MSA and in Reynosa.

Also, we have seen an influx of companies transferring divisions and their corporate headquarters to McAllen. In part because of the region’s large local workforce, strategic location and low costs of doing business, Fujitsu-Ten, Panasonic, Hi-Tec and ALPS have located their North American corporate headquarters to McAllen. Bettcher has transferred all of its North American corporate and manufacturing operations to McAllen and Reynosa. Hutchinson Manufacturing has also started transferring several divisions to McAllen.

For more than 17 years, the MEDC team has worked with ALPS, a global leader and manufacturer of electronic and automotive components. Over time, we have helped the company relocate families, hire local students from South Texas College and University of Texas-Pan American and expand their McAllen/Reynosa operations.

Recently, MEDC, along with officials from STC, UTPA, Mission Economic Development Authority and Hunt Valley Development, traveled to ALPS’ headquarters in Japan to meet with Mr. Masataka Kataoka, president/CEO of ALPS and tour their advanced technology and manufacturing centers. Mr. Kataoka announced that ALPS will bring their North American headquarters to McAllen, along with an additional division and 40 more jobs.

This represents a great opportunity to strengthen the partnership we have forged with ALPS over the years. We will continue working with company officials to help them create a global headquarters in McAllen.

The management teams of ALPS and all of our companies have become more like family to us, as we have known many of them for almost 20 years. Like training for a marathon – or even a fun relay- economic development and partnerships take practice and commitment.

And the MEDC team is committed to creating economic opportunity in the Rio Grande Valley and Northern Mexico. If you know of a company that is interested in learning about the advanced manufacturing opportunities in McAllen/Reynosa, contact the MEDC team today at 956.682.2875 or

Keith Patridge is President and C. E. O. of McAllen Economic Development Corporation.

McAllen-Edinburg-Mission Metropolitan Area is Number One in the Nation in Positive Job Growth!

McAllen-Edinburg-Mission Metropolitan Area is Number One in the Nation in Positive Job Growth!

Friday, January 15th, 2010
Written by: Dr. Gilberto de los Santos
Professor Emeritus The University of Texas—Pan American

The prestigious Brookings Institution released in its 2009 third quarter MetroMonitor, a “quarterly, interactive barometer of the health of America’s 100 largest metropolitan economies.” In this report it cites the changes in employment of the 100 largest United States Standard Metropolitan Areas.

From the 2nd to the 3rd quarter of the year 2009, only 11 of the 100 metro areas experienced positive increase in jobs. The other 89 metro areas lost jobs during this time period. The McAllen—Edinburg—Mission metro area is the number one in the United States in job creation with an increase of 1.3% in one quarter! The 1.3%, if annualized, would be 5.2%! Below is a list of the top five metro areas with their percentage increases in jobs:

McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX with a 1.3% growth

New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA = 0.6%

New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA = 0.5%

Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE, IA = 0.5%

Columbia, SC = 0.3%

The MetroMonitor also compared the largest 100 metro areas’ peak employment quarter to the most recent 3rd 2009 Quarter. Only one metro area in the United States, The McAllen—Edinburg—Mission metro area increased job placements with an increase of 1.4%! Since their peak employment, the 100 largest metro areas have decreased an average of -4.3%, compared to a -4.6% decrease in employment for the entire United States.

The McAllen—Edinburg—Mission metro area is the only metro area in Texas that achieved an employment growth rate from October 2008 to October 2009!!! (See Table 1)

There seems to be much healing to go—and the McAllen—Edinburg—Mission metro area is leading the way in the entire United States—and in Texas.

While most of the major metro areas in the United States are suffering loss of jobs, our metro area is number 1 in job growth. One can rightfully ask, what are the reasons for this unique growth in employment? Someone else might give a different answer, but this writer’s impression is that some of the reasons include that The Rio Grande Valley has wonderful people who have created a high quality standard of life which has attracted a higher than average increase in population growth.

We are blessed with great weather, a good school system from the K-12 grades levels to the post secondary education level, a family-oriented community, and a reasonably low cost of living. Although most local residents think the real estate prices have “sky rocked” we are considered a “bargain” compared to other metro areas.

The public schools, The University of Texas—Pan American, and South Texas College are among the fastest growing institutions in the country, and continue to increase programs and in number and quality.

Our excellent weather and shopping facilities encourage Mexican and Winter Texan tourists to continue coming. Our job growth is also fueled by the only three industries which experienced growth in Texas—Education and Health Services, Government, and Other Services.

Being adjacent to Mexico is an asset for our retail growth which also spurs jobs. The Maquiladora industry has promoted a huge increase in jobs in our sister cities near us in Mexico, and has also helped create jobs for us in the United States. Our agriculture market is strong, and we are attracting more manufacturing industries. We are also experiencing a huge increase in capitol influx from Mexican investors.

The fact that our metro area increased in jobs, does not mean that unemployment has decreased. Our metro area has been the first, second, or third fastest growing area in the United States for the past two decades, and we also have been the leaders in decreasing the unemployment rate. In the 1980’s and early 1990’s the unemployment rate was in the high “teens” and it was gradually lowered to less than 10%. At this time our metro unemployment rate is 11.2%, still among the highest unemployment rates in Texas. (See Table 1) So if the population growth rate is faster than the job creation rate, the unemployment will increase.

Nonetheless, we should definitely celebrate being number one in the United States and in Texas in job creation, and to hopefully be at the forefront of economic recovery!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cortez: Now let's get trucks rolling across Anzalduas bridge

Cortez: Now let's get trucks rolling across Anzalduas bridge

(Photo: RGG/Steve Taylor):McAllen Mayor Richard Cortez speaks at the official opening of Anzalduas International Bridge on Monday.

REYNOSA, Jan. 12 - In a speech at the official opening of Anzalduas Bridge on Monday, McAllen Mayor Richard Cortez stressed the importance of allowing commercial trucks to use America’s newest international bridge.

Under a presidential permit, cargo traffic is not permitted to use Anzalduas until the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge averages 15,000 northbound commercial vehicles per week, or until 2015. Currently, the bridge averages about 9,000. The City of Pharr depends heavily on bridge fees.

Cortez said it makes no sense to under-utilize the Anzalduas Bridge. He hinted at a unified bridge system that could see revenues collected from trucks crossing the international bridges of the Rio Grande Valley or at least Hidalgo County pooled together and distributed equitably.

“Now we have this valuable asset, let us not waste it by under-utilizing it. For us to be able to compete in this global economy our region needs not just one bridge but a system of bridges so that we can become the most efficient region for companies to relocate. An efficient system of legal ports of entries is essential to us to continue to attract new companies to our region,” Cortez said.

“Let us not waste our investment by not allowing commercial truck traffic to cross on this bridge. Commercial truck congestion has long been a key obstacle in developing efficient trade.”

Anzalduas International Bridge has only been open since mid-December. In his speech, Cortez said that companies and customs agents are already “begging” that the Anzalduas bridge board at least allow an empty truck trailer to cross the bridge.

McAllen banker Carlos Garza chairs the McAllen International Toll Bridge Board. Speaking immediately after the opening ceremony, Garza said it is not a forgone conclusion that allowing trucks to use Anzalduas will inevitably hurt Pharr.

“If Pharr did lose out it would only be short lived and temporary. We need to think not about how we cut the pie but how we grow the pie. If we made this a bridge system and make it easier to cross, we all benefit.” Garza said.

Garza said it is likely that Pharr will always be the bridge for hazardous cargo and agricultural products. He also urged the Mexican government to use its political muscle to allow commercial truck traffic on Anzalduas.

After the official ceremony concluded the City of McAllen hosted a luncheon for U.S. and Mexican dignitaries at the McAllen Convention Center. At that event, former McAllen Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Mike Allen reminded the Guardian that the original idea for a bridge at Anzalduas came about because of the need to get trucks moving more quickly and cheaply to and from the maquiladoras in Reynosa.

“We are competing with China right now so we have to reduce costs. The key thing for our community is to have multiple crossing points, in Donna, in Pharr, in McAllen, everywhere. That is what helps business,” Allen said.

Pat Townsend, president and CEO of Mission Economic Development Authority, told the Guardian that he had sympathy for Pharr elected officials because their first responsibility is to their voters and taxpayers. “There is only so far you can go in being Valley-minded or Metro-minded when you have a responsibility to the taxpayers and the voters who elected you,” Townsend said. “We have to make sure there is no negative impact on the taxpayers and the general treasury of Pharr. Tell me how you do that?”

Townsend said an improvement in the general economy would help because that would mean more trade with Mexico.

Allen first proposed a bridge in the Mission area when he went down to Mexico City with commercial real estate developer Mike Blum in 1993.

“My thought was economic development but we also knew it would open up a retail gateway into the interior of Mexico. At that time, Reynosa was not as big as it is now,” Allen said.

“I think you are going to be very surprised. I think you are going to have thousands more people crossing that bridge than you planned for. Mexicans will come because it is easy, because they do not face any danger going through Reynosa and they can shop and go. From where I live I can be in Monterrey in an hour and 45 minutes.”

Allen also predicted that a much larger number of Mexican nationals from Monterrey would buy second homes in the Valley because Anzalduas International Bridge makes it easier to get to the region. “Just like we go to New Mexico or Colorado, the Mexicans will have second homes here and from here they can go anywhere in the country,” he said. He also predicted even more export opportunities for retail stores in the Valley. “Downtown, retail stores like Sears and Penny’s are big exporters. People do not think about that,” he said.

Garza agreed with Allen’s analysis about more Mexican nationals visiting the Valley because of the new bridge. “We hope it will not just change the Monterrey traffic. The real key is how do we change the travel patterns of people in Central Mexico who maybe before used other bridges and maybe went on to San Antonio to make this region their choice and their place to come and shop and vacation and stay. To me, that is the real goal and that is where the real benefit will be realized,” Garza said.

Cortez said the new bridge could be viewed as a symbol of the “very strong” relationship that exists between the United States and Mexico. “It is an invitation that communicates ‘come to our home, you are welcome.’ It is an invitation to share and exchange, art, music, food, culture. It is an invitation that says let us do business today,” Cortez said.

Anzalduas International Bridge Project Fact Sheet

Anzalduas International Bridge Project Fact Sheet

(Photo: RGG/Steve Taylor) Mexican President Felipe Calderón shakes hands with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk after unveiling a plaque at the new Anzalduas International Bridge on Monday. 

REYNOSA, Jan. 12 - The City of McAllen has issued a Fact Sheet on the Anzalduas International Bridge Project.
Here it is:
• Bridge is located in Mission, Texas south of Military Highway and Bryan Road. Crossing is three miles west of the Hidalgo-Reynosa International Bridge, off of Military Highway and Anzalduas Highway (FM 396).

• Anzalduas is the closest international crossing to Mexico City and Monterrey. Route will reduce travel time to Monterrey by 30-45 minutes.

• Anzalduas International Bridge has four entrance lanes, including a SENTRI Lane in the United States. Bridge span is 3.2 miles (5.1 KM) from port to port and features 4 lanes, two safety bump-out spaces, and a pedestrian walkway. Lanes elevated to preserve nearby U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuge.

• Anzalduas is a joint public project between the cities of McAllen, Mission, Hidalgo and Granjeno, TxDOT, the federal government (GSA) and the Republic of Mexico worth over $100 million dollars.

• In Texas, the Anzalduas International Bridge connects to the McAllen Foreign Trade Zone, where more than 410 companies are based; and the Sharyland Plantation, a 6,000 acre residential, industrial and retail development.

• Dozens of multi-national corporations are located in state of the art industrial areas near Anzalduas’ entry in west Reynosa, MX. The companies include: Nokia, Matsushita, Black and Decker, Fujitsu, Seimens, Corning, TRW and Symbol Technologies

• Anzalduas International Bridge hours of operation: 6 am to 10 pm, daily

Time Line:
1992-1998 Preliminary design and site location studies by Halff and Associates

1994 Wilbur Smith Associates complete traffic study

1994-1998 Review of preliminary application for U.S. Permit by U.S. federal agencies

1995 Four party agreement with federal agencies for land use at site

July 1999 U.S. Presidential Permit issued by President Clinton

Feb 2001 Initial exchange of diplomatic notes with Mexico

Fall 2003 Approval by federal agencies of construction plans

Fall 2007 June 2007, bridge groundbreaking ceremony

Fall of 2009 Anzalduas International Bridge Completed

Anzalduas Bridge Board Summary of Costs from 2007 to 2009:
Bridge Contract to Williams Bros - $28,713, 014

Toll Plaza Building & Landscaping - $3,078,014

Roadways, Drainage & Site Improvements - $3,961,122

Water, Sanitary Sewer Lines - $2,296,078

Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment - $909,011

Electrical Utilities & Lighting - $1,543,206

All other owner’s expense - $2,796,171

Grand Total - $43,296,616

Reynosa, McAllen celebrate new link

Reynosa, McAllen celebrate new link
By Lynn Brezosky
Express-News REYNOSA, Mexico —

The first new Southern border crossing to open in a decade was inaugurated Monday with plenty of pomp and a few polite laments about a process that dragged on nearly 18 years.

The 3.2-mile Anzaldúas International Bridge, crossing rural fields and the Rio Grande, is the second bridge to connect the Reynosa and McAllen areas. The new route promises to open the western end of the Rio Grande Valley to one of Mexico's busiest factory hubs, bypassing downtown Reynosa to cut travel time to the Mexican industrial city of Monterrey by half an hour.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón made a dramatic helicopter arrival on the Mexican side, joining U.S. trade representative Ron Kirk in a coordinated march of U.S. and Mexican officials toward a dais of dignitaries atop the span. At least 1,000 people attended.

“This bridge is more than a link between Mexico and America, between north and south. It is also a potent symbol of our connectiveness,” Kirk said. “You all knew that a new crossing would bring benefits to this entire region, and those benefits begin today.”

Calderón said the bridge was part of a new future for Mexico's northern border and for all of the country.

“It signifies jobs,” he said. “It signifies competitiveness.”

Planning for the bridge started in 1992. President Bill Clinton signed a presidential permit in 1999, an exchange of diplomatic notes came in 2001 and ground was broken in 2007, with the two sides contributing about $100 million for land acquisition and construction costs.

The bridge opened to pedestrians and small vehicle traffic Dec. 15 but does not yet have the permits needed for commercial traffic.

Juan Molinar Horcasitas, a Mexican trade official, said the bridge's “green” construction — it is largely made of recycled materials — made it “not just a bridge between two nations but between the past and the future.”

Along with the addition and expansion of other border crossings, he said, Anzaldúas will help establish Mexico as the “logistical platform” for North America.

It is a long crossing, running past a flood control levee that functions as a border barrier in Hidalgo County and over a no man's land of flood plain along the ribbon of the Rio Grande. South of the river comes another mile or so of rural Mexican dwellings, grazing goats and finally Mexican customs officials.

Officials on both sides say the need for new ports of entry on the border is clear. One million vehicles — and commerce amounting to $1 billion — cross it each day. Mexico is the No. 1 trade partner of 22 states of the union. Some 60 percent of Mexican exports enter the U.S. through the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, which fronts the Texas border from Brownsville to the eastern end of Laredo.

Border cities fight intensely to be the site of new international bridges in hopes of landing stopover business, factories, and a housing market for managers and workers. The last new crossing to open was in Laredo in 2000.

“It takes us 18 years on average between when both governments agree on something and we reach this stage,” Tamaulipas Gov. Eugenio Flores said.

“We need a new procedure, a more adequate standard, a shorter time of formalities.”

Link to Article

Monday, January 11, 2010

2009…THIS WAS THE YEAR THAT WAS! Retail Sales in the Rio Grande Valley By: Mike Blum

Retail Sales in the Rio Grande Valley

By: Mike Blum  
NAI Rio Grande Valley
Click Here for Full Report

Photo: Mike Blum, Broker and Managing Partner for NAI Rio Grande Valley

By the time you are reading this post, 2009 will be a far-away memory. Another decade has begun. And while we all hope for a better economy, more jobs, improved living conditions, and peace in the world, it is always good to reflect on where we have been so we can measure where we are going and how to manage things when we get there.

From a retail sales standpoint, 2009 was a fairly good year for the Rio Grande Valley. Retail sales tax collected in Valley cities exceeded $179 million as compared to $189 million in the previous year. While this was a 5.1% decline from the previous year, it reflects a still vibrant retail economy valley wide. These taxes were collected on roughly $10.3 billion in retail sales that are subject to tax.

The absorption of sales tax collections were materially different in 2009 vs 2008 as new store openings across the valley caused a shift in where sales occurred. For example:

• The City of Mercedes experienced a 6% increase in sales tax collections, a direct result of new store openings at the Chelsea Outlet Mall.

• The small community of Penitas had a 67% increase. A true reflection of the impact a new Super Wal-Mart store can have on a small community.

• The Shoppes at Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg has continued to add retailers attracting shoppers to its location.

• In 2010 the absorption of sales tax dollars is predicted to shift to Weslaco even more when the new JC Penny and Lowes stores’ sales tax are taken into account. This shift will mostly be felt in McAllen and Harlingen as customers will have a more convenient option to major retailers.

Declines in bridge crossings and housing starts, valley wide have also contributed to the 2009 decline in sales tax collections. However, with the opening of the Anzalduas International Bridge in McAllen/Mission future sales tax collections valley wide are predicted to increase. The new international bridge will reduce travel time for Mexico shoppers by 45 minutes and offers a more direct corridor that leads them directly to several shopping destinations with national tenants.

Now another way to appreciate the unique nature of the Valley’s retail economy is to understand how we compare with other markets. The following table shows the Sales and Use Tax Comparison Report for the top 20 Cities in Texas ranked by 2008 population.

McAllen, on its own, ranked 14th on the Report, 12th in Sales Tax Collections. More importantly, 3rd Per Capita and Per Household sales tax collections (total sales tax collected/total population or households). This confirms despite the current economy, Valley residents continue to spend on retail goods. Moreover, it reinforces just how crucial Mexico shoppers are to our economy...

Click Here to View Chart

McAllen MSA posts highest annual growth rate in 2009

McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX Ranks 12th in Farmers Insurance Group's Most Secure U.S. Places to Live for 2009

Rio Grande Valley Region better understood in Asia

H.E.B. to open new store in San Benito, renovate other Valley stores

H.E.B. to open new store in San Benito, renovate other Valley stores

January 06, 2010 6:36 PM
Sean Gaffney
The Monitor
Photo:Nathan Lambrecht

SAN BENITO — Supermarket giant H.E.B. plans to launch a new San Benito store in 2010 as part of a statewide expansion that includes 13 new stores, the San Antonio-based grocer said Wednesday.

H.E. Butt Grocery Co. also expects to renovate 60 existing stores and to build a new distribution center in Temple. The nation’s 12th-largest grocery chain said the expansion and remodeling would create 5,000 jobs across Texas.

While H.E.B. would not disclose a location for its new San Benito store, the grocery company in 2005 bought the 14-acre site of the Resaca Gardens housing project, Arnold Padilla, executive director of the San Benito Public Housing Authority, said Wednesday.

Of the 60 stores to be renovated, some will be in the Rio Grande Valley, but H.E.B. said it’s not certain yet which locations will get makeovers.

H.E.B. has also dropped prices on more than 5,000 items its stores stock. Bruce Courtney, director of research for Kantar Retail, a consulting firm, said grocers like H.E.B. are cutting prices on popular products to...

Click Here to Read Full Article

McAllen MSA posts highest annual growth rate in 2009

TWC: McAllen MSA posts highest annual growth rate in 2009

January 4th, 2010 No comments A recent report from the Texas Workforce Commission indicates that the McAllen MSA has 9,300 jobs, followed by the Dallas-Plano-Irving area

with 7,200 jobs. The McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSA posted the highest percentage of over-the-month growth with 1.0 percent.

Overall, the annual growth rate for total nonagricultural employment decreased throughout Texas; however, the McAllen MSA maintained a positive and the highest annual growth rate of 1.2 percent. Recently, numerous outlets have featured the McAllen MSA has one of the top metros for growth in employment and small business opportunities. See all of the recent rankings here.

View the full Texas Workforce Commission Report by clicking here.

Anzalduas International Bridge closed for inauguration today

Anzalduas International Bridge closed for inauguration today

Martha L. Hernández
The Monitor
January 09, 2010 12:19 AM

NEAR GRANJENO — The Rio Grande Valley’s newest international bridge will be temporarily closed starting Sunday afternoon in preparation for a grand opening ceremony the following day, according to federal authorities.

The ceremony comes four weeks after the Dec. 15 “soft” opening of the Anzalduas International Bridge, which links Reynosa and Mission.

In preparation for the bridge’s inauguration, the crossing will be closed to northbound and southbound traffic starting at 4 p.m. Sunday. It is slated to re-open at 4 p.m. Monday.

Local authorities tried in vain to secure President Barack Obama’s attendance for the grand opening. Mexican officials, meanwhile, are hosting their own ceremony on the southern side of the span but have yet to confirm whether Mexican President Felipe Calderon will take part in the occasion.

Obama will be represented at the grand opening by U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, the only Texan in his Cabinet. A former legislative aide to U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and former chair of the Texas General Services Commission, Kirk serves as the president's principal adviser, negotiator and spokesman on trade issues.

Also attending the event will be U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascual, U.S. General Services Administration Acting Administrator Stephen Leeds, U.S. Consul General Michael Barkin, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Executive Director for Mission Support David Morrell and local authorities of Hidalgo, McAllen and Mission.

Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa is the highest-level Mexican official confirmed to attend.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security...

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Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Years!!