|Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander, second from left, joined top economic analysts recently for the Economic Summit for the South Texas/Border Region at the International Trade and Technology Building. The forum featured the release of an economic outlook report for the area, including the Rio Grande Valley. From left are Jesse Ancira Jr., Comptroller’s Office general counsel; Rylander; state Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville; James LeBas, Comptroller’s Office chief revenue estimator; and Don Hoyte, Comptroller’s Office economist.|
“Our long term forecast is for strong employment growth in these 16-county areas that we call the South Texas border region, and it includes Brownsville, McAllen, Harlingen, Laredo, Eagle Pass and Del Rio,” Rylander said. “Employment growth in this region is going to be the fastest seen in any region of the state.”
According to the report, during the first five years of the new millennium, the South Texas employment growth rate is expected to reach 2.8 percent annually, nearly a full percentage point above the expected average of 1.9 percent for the entire state.
Through 2005, the real gross regional product in the region should expand to a 2.4 percent annual rate, Rylander said, and regional employment also will increase, adding 16,200 jobs annually the next three years.
“Major explanation for these growth rates are the rapid development of cross border trade,” Rylander said. “Our forecast underscores the need for focusing economic development efforts in this region not just in getting more jobs but getting better paying jobs, and that is what we want to work with you on.”
The report also detailed recent economic changes in the region and structural changes that have led and will lead to economic growth through 2005.
As part of the seminar, area business owners and civic leaders heard presentations and participated in a public forum with the comptroller and her staff. They learned about opportunities for growth in their region, including what obstacles are in the way of economic development and what the state can do to help.
Similar seminars are occurring in what the comptroller’s office has identified as the 13 regions of the state. The South Texas border region includes the counties of Cameron, Hidalgo, Willacy, Starr, Dimmit, Edwards, Jim Hogg, Kinney, La Salle, Maverick, Real, Uvalde, Val Verde, Webb, Zapata and Zavala.
For more information on the Texas Regional Outlook report for the South Texas Border Region, visit www.window.state.tx.us/ecodata/regional/forums/ or call 1-800-531-5441.