Author Archives: George Cox, VBR Managing Editor

George Cox is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years experience as a newspaper writer and editor. A Corpus Christi native, he started his career as a reporter for The Brownsville Herald after graduating from Sam Houston State University with a degree in journalism. He later worked on newspapers in Laredo and Corpus Christi as well as northern California. George returned to the Valley in 1996 as editor of The Brownsville Herald and in 2001 moved to Harlingen as editor of the Valley Morning Star. He also held the position of editor and general manager for the Coastal Current, a weekly entertainment magazine with Valleywide distribution. George retired from full-time journalism in 2015 to work as a freelance writer and legal document editor. He continues to live in Harlingen where he and his wife Katherine co-founded Rio Grande Valley Therapy Pets, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising public awareness of the benefits of therapy pets and assisting people and their pets to become registered therapy pet teams.

Maquilas Remain Critical to Border Economy

Keith Patridge, president and chief executive officer of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation, discusses the maquiladora program and its continued growth along the U.S.-Mexico border. (VBR)

The U.S.-Mexico border region is a hotbed of global competition that began with the creation of the maquiladora program in 1964. In the past 40-plus years, the twin-plant concept has certainly pumped enormous amounts of money. It has also led to the creation of thousands of jobs benefiting both countries, and there is no sign it will slow down. Established by Mexico as the Border Industrialization Program, a maquiladora is…

Read More

Trade Pact Seen as Positive

Keith Patridge, president and chief executive officer of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation, discusses international trade and the possible impact of a new trade agreement. (VBR)

While the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement, waits for ratification by all three countries involved, indications are that the new trade deal will be good for the South Texas economy, and all along the U.S.-Mexico border. “What was happening under NAFTA, and this was a problem with NAFTA, it opened up plants being able to move to Mexico without any type of restriction…

Read More

Sweet Business of Chocolate

Mozna Chocolate owners Anthony Matulewicz (right) and partner Hassan Mulla stand next to a cocoa bean roaster. (VBR)

Dark chocolate, rich in antioxidants and other nutrients, can have positive health benefits, according to numerous studies. After his physician recommended eating dark chocolate, Rio Grande Valley entrepreneur Anthony Matulewicz started experimented with making it in his home kitchen. Today, he is three years into a journey to turn a private passion into a viable business with Mozna Chocolate, a small but growing dark chocolate factory in the border town…

Read More

Artist Creates Business Niche

A photo of a heron and reflections in the water after being processed by artist Elisa Baker using special software. (VBR)

Inspired by a lifelong love of photography, and using creative computer software designed by her husband, Elisa Baker has embarked on a path to turn her personal passion into a business venture. Baker concentrates her photography on capturing images of Rio Grande Valley flora and fauna. Her husband developed the software that processes photos to create a sfumato effect. A style of painting associated with Italian Renaissance artists like Leonardo…

Read More

Sun Fuels Industry Growth

A solar roof installation on a building detached from the residence helps power an entire home in Mission. (VBR)

The scorching South Texas sun holds virtually unlimited potential to generate electricity, and consumer demand for solar power is on the rise. And while at one time about seven solar companies operated in the Rio Grande Valley, today there is only a handful, and only one of those is locally owned and operated. American Made Solar and Wind Technologies, based in Weslaco, specializes in meeting the demand for both commercial…

Read More

Valley Economic Forecast Good

Salvador Contreras, director of UTRGV’s Center for Border Economic Studies, summarizes his findings in a 2019 economic forecast for the Rio Grande Valley. (VBR)

Deep South Texas is expected to see economic growth again this year, although the increases in activity may be a little smaller than the numbers for 2018, according to an economic forecast compiled by Salvador Contreras, director of the Center for Border Economic Studies at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. “Texas had a strong 2018,” Contreras said. “This year may not be as strong but we will have…

Read More

American Airlines Official Visits Harlingen

American Airlines representative Dale Morris sits with Valley International Aviation Director Marv Easterly during a lunch with Harlingen officials and business leaders.

As American Airlines prepares to begin daily service to Dallas-Fort Worth to and from Valley International Airport in March, airline representative Dale Morris made a visit to Harlingen last week to meet with city officials and business leaders, as well as take a tour of the airport. Dale Morris, senior consultant for special projects and government affairs for American, met with community leaders for lunch at Frankie Flav’z before heading…

Read More

Work Visa Rules See Changes

On the same day that President Donald Trump visited the Rio Grande Valley to drum up support for a border wall, a group of business people gathered to learn about immigration issues facing workers and employers. “It’s really hard to keep up. Changes are occurring on an almost daily basis and the changes are affecting immigrants and employers,” said immigration attorney Belia A. Pena, who presented the workshop sponsored by…

Read More

Cooking in the Great Outdoors

An outdoor kitchen and entertainment area with fireplace designed and installed by Grill Street. (Courtesy)

Outdoor grilling is as popular as ever in the Rio Grande Valley, with greater numbers of people taking it well beyond simply firing up a gas grill or charcoal pit on the back patio to cook steaks, ribs, chicken, vegetables and more. A fast-growing segment is expanding their options to install outdoor kitchens, some of which are as well-equipped as the indoor versions. Ruben Castillo, an architect who moved to…

Read More

Thrift Store Helps Victims

Customers browse racks of used clothing at Repeat Performance, which is open Monday through Saturday on Jackson Street in Harlingen. (VBR)

One of the shops along Jackson Street in downtown Harlingen is a thrift store that not only recycles old clothes and other merchandise, it fosters new beginnings for victims of domestic family violence and sexual assault. The small retail outlet is operated by the Family Crisis Center of the Rio Grande Valley. “Repeat Performance generates revenue that comes back into the center to help us run the center,” said Laura…

Read More