EDINBURG - Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) announced a grant of $1.5 million to The University of Texas-Pan American during President Clinton's recent trip to the Rio Grande Valley.
The grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) will provide infrastructure support for the new $15 million Medical Research Center, which will be constructed on the UT Pan American campus.
"The impact of this project for the Rio Grande Valley will be enormous for the improvements it will bring to the lives of my constituents - both physically and economically," said Congressman Hinojosa.
As part of The University of Texas System's $50 million Rio Grande Valley Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC), the Medical Research Center will be the first of its kind to be built along the United States-Mexico border.
"The facility will provide space and equipment for scholars and scientists from throughout the country to address the pressing health problems of the Texas-Mexico region and the Lower Rio Grande Valley, such as diabetes mellitus, infectious and communicable diseases, as well as environmentally-related health issues," Hinojosa said.
Funds from EDA will be used to expand the capacity of the University's Central Utility Plant to provide fresh air to the Center.
"The grant is certainly a boost to the University in terms of being able to take care of the cooling needs of the Medical Research Center - a part of the RAHC," said Roland S. Arriola, vice president for external affairs at The University of Texas-Pan American. "It is important because we need to be able to have the proper infrastructure to support the new $15 million facility."
The RAHC is expected to impact the Valley economy with annual operations that will increase household earnings by $36.6 million, create 1,679 jobs and generate more than $1.3 million in sales taxes.
"This grant, like all EDA grants," said U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary William M. Daley, "is helping communities that suffer from high unemployment, low growth rates, loss of jobs, out-migration, defense adjustment and long-term economic deterioration, regain their economic footing." The Medical Research Center, which will be managed by The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, will create an environment conducive to the attraction of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, as well as support new research grants from federal and state environmental health agencies.
"This EDA project is an important part of the U.S. Department of Commerce's special initiative to construct essential economic development facilities that achieve long-term growth and provide stable and diversified local economies in distressed communities," said Acting Assistant Secretary for Economic Development Chester J. Straub Jr.
The grant is a product of EDA's Public Works and Development Facilities Grant Program, which is designed to assist distressed communities in attracting new industry, encouraging business expansion, diversifying local economies, and generating long-term, private-sector jobs.
"Thirty-five percent of the residents in three of the Rio Grande Valley counties served by UT Pan American live below the poverty level," Hinojosa said. "This project is expected to help distressed communities in the Rio Grande Valley, not only by studying and addressing local health concerns, but also by helping the area to achieve sustainable economic development that will generate both short-and long-term jobs, encourage economic growth, improve economic conditions and promote the economic recovery of the region."