Representatives of The Del Rio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce gathered in El Paso and its surrounding communities plus Irving, Corpus Christi, McAllen, Seguin, Killeen, Austin, Brazoria, Fort Worth, Midland/Odessa, and the Lower Rio Grande Valley, to name a few, for the 41st Annual Convention and Business Expo of TAMACC, the leading Hispanic business organization in Texas since 1975. The Del Rio delegation consisted of DRHCC President Otila Gonzalez, immediate past vice president Dora Alcala, and DRHCC secretary Judith Montalvo. The delegation carried a variety of promotional items for distribution at the exhibit hall along with local products such as copies of the Grande Magazine and locally produced Peanut brittle which was donated by Kurt Lemp of Ranch Candies. Drawings were held every hour for bags of candy and bottles of Val Verde wines which drew folks to the booth, where they were able to view a video of Del Rio and surrounding area attractions such as the Amistad National Recreation Area, San Felipe Creek, Val Verde Winery and its vineyards and olive orchards, Laughlin AFB, Ciudad Acuna, and local events.
Along with networking opportunities, workshop sessions were attended as time permitted away manning the DRHCC booth. One of the presentations discussed how the Overtime Expansion law will affect businesses when it goes into effect December 1. This new law is raising what’s known as the overtime salary threshold. The salary threshold is the number below which all workers have as right to overtime pay, regardless of their duties. As of December 1, the new threshold will be $47,476, which is roughly double the present threshold.
Next year’s Convention will be held in Irving Texas and we hope that our members can make plans to attend.
Why is Del Rio important to this corridor?
While the U.S.-Mexico border crossings are important centers of global trade and commerce, they sometimes fall prey to congestion and delays, particularly as supply chain security measures have increased. Not so at the Del Rio Port of Entry, which links the city of Del Rio, Texas, with Ciudad Acuna, its sister city in Mexico.
In our Port of Entry processing and crossing times for commercial and vehicular traffic is an average of between 30 and 45 minutes. That is opposed to the 10 to 15 hours it takes elsewhere for commercial traffic to cross.
In addition to speedy border crossings, Del Rio boosts the manufacturing industry in Ciudad Acuna with logistics support and a highly skilled workforce in the automotive, small manufacturing, plastics, and packaging industries. Also, the presence in Del Rio of the Laughlin Air Force Base and a number of federal agencies, including the FBI, DEA, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, means Del Rio also boasts nearly 5,000 well-trained professionals in specialties such as communications, planning, engineering, operations, aeronautics, maintenance, and data processing.
But the greatest benefit Del Rio offers to companies and communities located along the Ports to Plains corridor is its example as an International Metropolitan Area (IMA). Del Rio and Ciudad Acuna operates as an international dual-city economy, exchanging products and services across the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo. We are a bicultural, bilingual class of business professionals, merchants, and specialized workers who travel back and forth every day as if within a single city.
Serving as a key link between different companies, communities, and currencies is also the goal of the Ports to Plains Alliance as a whole. With transportation and infrastructure as its platform, the Alliance seeks to help the entire Ports to Plains region in the United States and beyond, improving its prospects for economic prosperity.
As the new school year begins, it brings many exciting changes for our students at all level of education. Secondary school students and college level students will be adjusting to the coming changes and anything that affects our future workforce is of importance to all of us.
We are fortunate to have one of our own members and immediate past vice chair of the DRHCC Ms. Dora Alcala, speak to us about the new Texas Higher Education Strategic Plan and its goals to reach by 2030. Ms. Alcala has served as a member of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, an agency of the the State of Texas that oversees all public post-secondary education. The board consists of seven members appointed to six year terms by the Governor of Texas. Additionally, Ms. Alcala has served as the first woman Mayor of Del Rio, retired from a long and successful civil service career and continues her service to our community through her active participation in various service organizations.
Assisting Ms. Alcala in the presentation will be Dr. Maria Ramirez who, before her retirement in 2013, served the SFDRCISD for 35 years in various administrative positions from Speech Therapist to Director of Special Education to Director of Federal Programs.
Please mark your calendars for the September 11, 2016 Del Rio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Membership meeting. See you there.