Author Archives: George Cox

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.

Curtain Call for Old Theater

Weslaco’s iconic concrete water tower rises above the original ground water storage building that now serves as a community theater. (VBR)

There was a time that the round, domed building with 12-inch-thick concrete walls stored much of Weslaco’s water supply. But for almost half a century, the historic structure has served as a community theater. Now, following a renovation with the help of the Weslaco Economic Development Corporation, the Tower Theater has a new lease on life. Constructed in 1928, the ground-level water storage facility was replaced in 1941 by the…

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Program Helps Leaders Emerge

Emerging Leaders

Applications from 22 South Texas businesses were in by the March deadline for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Emerging Leaders Initiative intensive course. Interest is high for the first area offering of the course via the SBA’s Lower Rio Grande Valley District. The SBA started the initiative nationwide in 2008. Yet, this is the first time businesses from Deep South Texas north to Corpus Christi can take advantage locally. “We…

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Fresh, Tasty Tale of Success

Francesca and Carlos Hernandez team up as the beauty and the beast behind the success of a healthy food company. (Courtesy)

A beauty and beast team is riding a wave of success of almost fairy tale proportions with a line of fresh, healthy meals and other related products. On a good week, Beauty & Beast Cuisine cooks and packages in the neighborhood of 27,000 meals in its Edinburg kitchen. “It’s just been an explosion of opportunity,” said Carlos Hernandez, the beast in the partnership with his wife, Francesca, the beauty. “It…

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Selling the Love of Music

Matt Perez and his wife, Debra, operate Valley Keyboards in McAllen with a passion for music. (VBR)

A lifelong devotion to the love of music drives the success of a Rio Grande Valley business that has shared that passion for more than four decades. “Everything we do and continue to do flows from our love and passion for music and music education,” said Matt Perez, president and chief executive officer of Valley Keyboards of McAllen. His wife, Debra, manages the education department of the company, which is…

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Port Sets Records, Eyes Future

Brownsville Navigation District Board Chairman John Reed

The Port of Brownsville once again posted a record year for 2018, moving 11.3 million tons of cargo with operating revenues of more than $24.2 million. That translates into a 6.6-percent increase in cargo along with a 25-percent bump in rail movements. Revenues were also up 2.5 percent over the previous year, according to figures released during the State of the Port event in March. “The Port of Brownsville made…

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Helping People Clean House

Ruben Balboa with furniture and other items stored in Balboa Auction Company’s new location in downtown San Benito. (VBR)

With the rapid-fire rhythm of an auctioneer’s chant, Ruben Balboa cajoles buyers to bid higher and higher amounts to acquire the merchandise up for sale. Whether selling a small piece of jewelry or a large antique chest of drawers, conducting a successful auction is an art form all its own. Balboa Auction Company of San Benito primarily conducts estate auctions and sales, although the business also holds monthly general auctions.…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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