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New Nest for Creativity

Incubator hatches ideas, enriches local arts scene

District expands IB programs to all schools


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2500 S. Bicentennial Blvd., Ste. 100 McAllen, TX 78503 (956) 681-1500

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New Nest ity tiv s, for Creahes idea

Incubator hatc l arts scene enriches loca

Read about McAllens Rio Grande Valley Vipers, 2010 and 2013 NBA Development League Champions, plus other local athletic teams at

District expands IB programs to all schools

Photos & Video

MORE ON MCALLEN Go to the links below for more articles and photos about McAllens business climate, recreation, food, schools, health care, culture and more. TOP EMPLOYERS business DEMOGRAPHICS facts SCHOOLS schools HEALTH CARE health NEIGHBORHOODS living ATTRACTIONS attractions FOOD food

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SEE THE CITY See the art district and more great images at mcallen/tx/photos-video.

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EXPLORE NEIGHBORHOODS Learn more about McAllens many residential areas at is a part of, a collection of Americas best places to live & visit



M c A llen


4 Welcome to McAllen
An introduction to the community

Things to Do
8 Attraction New Nest for Creativity
Incubator hatches ideas and enriches the local arts scene

2 Local Flavor 1 McAllens Food Scene Heats Up 14 Arts & Culture Heres Your To-Do List 6 Sports & Recreation 1 A Growing Playground


2014 edITIOn

VOlUme 12

McAllen ISD expands International Baccalaureate programs

2 Education 2 Global Learning

6 Schools 2 Set for Success 9 Health 2 Big on Health Care

31 Community Profile


37 Business Overview The Best of Times


40 Small Companies Small Businesses, Big Opportunities 5 Chamber Report 4 Whats the Big Idea?

47 Economic Profile

On The Cover McAllen Creative Incubator Photo by Wendy Jo OBarr

PLeAse RecYcLe tHIs MAGAZIne

LivA B i L i T Y. C O M /M C A L L E N

Located on Main Street in McAllens Arts District, The Three Graces was created by artist Mick Reber. The 15-foot-tall sculpture, made of steel and weighing about 3,000 pounds, represents the graces of faith, hope and charity.

Public Art Graces Downtown McAllen


At A GLAnce

McAllen, Texas
Cultural diversity, progressive business practices and a booming economy best characterize McAllen, which is one of the fastest growing metros in Texas and part of one of the fastest growing MSAs in the U.S. A location just five miles from the U.S.-Mexico border and close to Reynosa, Mexicos large population has made it a magnet for retail, international trade, tourism and manufacturing. ABUnDAnt LIVInG McAllens economic mix means tangible benefits for residents beyond a strong job market. They take their picks among diverse shopping and dining options that include hundreds of national brands and unique, independent retailers. The resulting tax base means the city can offer first-rate amenities such as a massive, state-of-the-art library; in-town bus service; awesome parks; and hiking and biking trails that are enjoyed year round, thanks to a desirable warm climate. With all this and much more, McAllen also consistently ranks among cities with the lowest cost of living in the U.S. GReAt FoR BUsIness McAllen is good for business, big and small. More than 100 Fortune 500 companies have a presence within the McAllen MSA, while the city also has been recognized recently by CNNMoney among its Best Places to Launch a Small Business. Key factors bringing expansions and entrepreneurs are an excellent quality of life, numerous advanced medical facilities, a comprehensive financial services community, demonstrated logistics advantages to reach existing and new markets, and a mostly young, bicultural and bilingual population. Read on to discover why McAllen is one of Americas best places to live.




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Reynosa R os s sa

Rio Grande d


Rio Bravo

Brow Brownsville row s Matamoros

McAllen is in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, situated just 70 miles west of the Gulf of Mexico. McAllen is the largest city in Hidalgo County.



133,821 (McAllen) 774,769 (MSA)

DIstAnces to tHRee MAJoR cItIes neARBY
San Antonio, 224 miles Austin, 311 miles Fort Worth/Dallas, 502 miles

TIMe Zone


FoR MoRe InFoRMAtIon


National Average: 30

McAllen Chamber of Commerce

1200 Ash Ave. McAllen, TX 78501 Phone: (956) 682-2871 Fax: (956) 687-2917

No. 2 Best City for Future Job Growth - Forbes

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McAllens must-do attractions, activities and dining

Explore the Shelves and Grab a Book

Check out the massive new McAllen Public Library for a variety of family-friendly activities. The library has more than 30,000 childrens books and audiotapes, many of which are bilingual. The library frequently hosts programs for children, adults and teens.

Natural Attractions




EXpeRIence nAtURe
Enjoy McAllens wildlife havens, which include Quinta Mazatlan, a sanctuary for birds, plants and other wildlife; Valley Nature Center, the oldest nature center in the area; and Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, home to record numbers of bird and butterfly species.

See tHe eXHIBIts

Visit the International Museum of Art and Science to explore more than 50,000 square feet of art and science displays, such as paintings, sculpture and geological collections. The museum also offers educational programs and hosts special events.

SHop In StYLe
McAllens La Plaza Mall draws more than 18 million visitors each year as the main shopping spot for Rio Grande Valley residents. Comprising 1.2 million square feet, the mall has more than 150 retailers and several restaurants in its recently renovated food court.

Root FoR tHe HoMe TeAM

The McAllen Thunder and Edinburg Roadrunners are baseball teams that play at Edinburg Baseball Stadium. Both teams are members of the North American League, an independent professional league.


THInGs To Do

Stay in Luxury

Book a stay at the historic Renaissance Casa de Palmas, conveniently located within walking distance from downtown and only 2 miles from La Plaza Mall. The hotel offers a free shuttle to and from the nearby airport.


Professional Sports


Ice Skating

HeAD to HAppY HoUR

Enjoy dinner, drinks and good times at the many businesses located within the 17th Street Entertainment District of downtown McAllen, a revitalized area bustling with fun restaurants, pubs, clubs and lounges.


Cheer on the La Fiera Ftbol Club, a Professional Arena Soccer League Team; the RGV Killer Bees, a North American Hockey League team; and the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, 2010 and 2013 NBA Development League champions.

EnJoY tHe SHow

Be sure to take in a Valley Symphony Orchestra performance by acclaimed artists. Ticket discounts are available for groups of more than 10. And take note: In addition to its annual concert season, the symphony also hosts a popular gala.

HIt tHe Ice

Spend a fun-filled day ice skating at the Frio Grande Valley Ice Center, or play ice hockey or broomball. Learn to Ice Skate programs and figure skating lessons are offered, and the center is available for birthday parties and lock-ins.

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THInGs To Do

The McAllen Creative Incubator, located in a former library, includes several art studios, as well as a gallery, a paint lab and the Idea Lab. The McAllen Chamber of Commerce sponsors the Incubator, which showcases exhibits and offers art classes to students of all ages and skill levels.


Arts incUbator grows artists, innovators and cUltUral offerings
he McAllen Creative Incubator moved early in 2013, taking residence in what used to be the citys public library at 601 N. Main St. The location certainly fits, situated amidst the Arts District Business Center, the Art Village on Main and several galleries.
We have several spaces and common areas the artists can use to teach, make exhibitions, and hold their performances or workshops. Since we moved into the [former] library, weve gotten really positive feedback from the community and the local artists, Gonzalez says. ARt CLAsses At tHe IncUBAtoR Painter Karen Norberg, a tenant, teaches classes at the McAllen Creative Incubator. Were really excited about our new digs, she says. Theres a variety of art, all the way from photography to violin lessons to choir to, of course, the artists who are painting and teaching painting and drawing classes all the time.
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New Nest for

The Creative Incubator is actually right in the middle of the art district, says Ivan Gonzalez, director of art development for the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. We have at least another five or six galleries nearby, so we all share the same concept of hosting artists so they can exhibit their work. Whats more, the building has roughly double the room of the Incubators former location. The City of McAllen and the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, which runs the Incubator, spent more than $200,000 to gut the old library; replace carpet and lighting; and build studios, paint labs, workshop and classroom areas, gallery spaces, and performance and event venues.

Painter Alma Casso works on her latest creations at the McAllen Creative Incubator, where she teaches art classes and rents studio space. Casso also assists with special events at the Incubator, such as craft parties.

The McAllen Creative Incubator s revolving art exhibits are free and open to the public throughout the year.

The intention of the Mini Maker Faire is to nurture innovation. It is about people inventing. It has a lot of very positive energy people sharing excitement about what they are doing and that excitement gets transferred to the attendees.



Art Village on Main covers 30,000 square feet and includes four buildings that include art galleries, studios and restaurants. The village also hosts McAllens First Friday Art Walks from September to May.

Classes for both children and adults are a big draw, among them a Wine & Design class for which painting supplies are provided and students bring their own snacks and beverages. Were really trying to promote our wonderful new space; were so proud of it, Norberg says. McALLen MInI MAKeR FAIRe Another exciting aspect of the larger space is the opportunity to hold events such as the Mini Maker Faire, a showcase of local innovation and invention that brought 50 makers and 700 attendees to the McAllen Creative Incubator in June 2013. Many of the participants had been working with the Chambers Inventors & Entrepreneurs Network, and the event celebrated their accomplishments.

What we do here is entrepreneurial activism, says Eduardo Millet, vice president of business development for the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, referring to the Incubators mission to help people act on their ideas. The intention of the Mini Maker Faire is to nurture innovation. It is about people inventing. It has a lot of very positive energy people sharing excitement about what they are doing and that excitement gets transferred to the attendees. The venue was the perfect place to hold the first annual Mini Maker Faire, as it is brimming with the creativity of local artists and grounded by the support of Chamber initiatives such as the Idea Lab and Collaboration Space, which provide guidance and tools for bringing ideas along a path to market.

Its a great venue, Millet says. Any event that has to do with innovation will flourish because of the creative energy that is already there. by Carol Cowan by staff photographer Wendy Jo OBarr and senior photographer Jeff Adkins



t for Creativ ity

The McAllen Creative Incubator a former library, includes several , located in as well as a art studios, gallery, a paint The McAllen lab and the Idea Lab. Chamber of Commerce the Incubator, sponsors which showcases offers art exhibits and classes to students of skill levels. all ages and

New Nes


Gonzalez, director art district, says We have several Ivan spaces and McAllen Chamber of art development areas the artists common for the can use to of Commerce at least another exhibitions . We have , and hold their teach, make so we all share five or six galleries nearby, workshops. Since we movedperformances or artists so they the same concept of library, weve into the [former] hosting gotten can from the communityreally positive feedback Whats more, exhibit their work. the building and the local double the Gonzalez says. has roughly artists, room former location. of the Incubators ART CLASSES The City of AT THE INCUBATO Chamber of McAllen and the McAllen Painter Karen R Commerce Norberg, a , which runs Incubator, spent classes at the tenant, teaches the McAllen Creative the old library; more than $200,000 Were really to gut replace carpet excited about Incubator. and build studios, she says. Theres and lighting; our new digs, paint labs, and classroom from photograph a variety of art, all workshop the way y to violin performance areas, gallery spaces, to, of course, and the artists wholessons to choir and event venues. and teaching painting and are painting all the time. drawing classes

S he McAllen Creative Incubat residence in or moved early what used to in 2013, taking 601 N. Main be the citys District Busines St. The location certainly public library at s Center, the Art Village fits, situated amidst the on Main and Arts The Creative several galleries Incubator is in the middle . actually right of the



T Y. C O M /M


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THInGs To Do: Local flavor

McAllens Food Scene Heats Up

gRAB SOME gRuB AT THE CiTYS MOST POPuLAR RESTAuRANTS McAllens food scene is hot, and not just because its in South Texas. The food selection here is growing into a mixture of international and local cuisines that even the most metropolitan Texas cities would envy. Read on to find tips for trying a few local favorites.
Outdoor Dining


No tour of McAllens food spots would be complete without a visit to The Patio on Guerra. One of the finest local dining spots, the Patio combines a gorgeous setting with impeccable food and great service.

Greek and Mediterranean

Dont let Sahadis humble exterior fool you. The owners pride themselves on carefully crafted Mediterranean dishes, and the food lives up to the billing. Bonus: Wine tastings. Catch up with Sahadis on Facebook to find dates and times, as well as a full menu.


One of Americas fastestgrowing restaurant trends has come to McAllen. Genghis Grill is a build-your-own stir-fry joint with plenty of taste to match its boisterous personality. You pick your ingredients. They cook them. Your taste buds win.

Not feeling particularly international? Try some good ole American fare at the Corner Bakery Caf, where they dont just bake bread they fill it with all sorts of things to make your mouth happy. Or go to the Pub Steakhouse, pictured, which has a promising tagline: Youre going to love the food here. Tex-Mex and Mexican

Grab a Sandwich or Settle in for a Steak



For the best Irish food in town, try Shenanigans Irish Pub & Grill. Its bangers and mash are, well, bangin. More than just a great bar, Shenanigans has tasty food options, as well as live music.

KoKos, PoncHos MeXIcAn NUeVo, CABRIto nUeVo Leon

For the last 20 years, McAllens own Suarez brothers have built Kokos into a McAllen landmark. Its uptown location, open since 2004, draws diners from all over the McAllen area. If youve already tried Kokos and youre looking for more Mexican, try Ponchos Mexican Nuevo or Cabrito Nuevo Leon. Neither will disappoint.



Feast on French Fare at Fromage Bistro

Fromage Bistro is bringing a little France to the Rio Grande Valley. Its menu is ambitious, its food is exquisite, and its presentation is among the most refined in McAllen. Fromage doesnt just serve high-end food; from ambiance to service, it serves high-end dining experiences.

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THInGs To Do: arts & cUltUre

A Smithsonian Affiliate, the International Museum of Art and Science covers more than 50,000 square feet.

Heres Your To-Do List

TAKE iN THE BEST OF MCALLENS ARTS AND ENTERTAiNMENT SCENE The City of Palms has grown into a cultural haven for the Rio Grande Valley. With a wealth of historic landmarks, a growing number of live music options, and numerous opportunities to experience the visual arts, McAllen locals and visitors have never had more ways to experience its amazing American culture.
Chamber of Commerce Support Festivals


The McAllen Chamber of Commerce shows its love for the arts by managing the McAllen Arts Council, which produces an annual fine arts exhibition and offers grants to local artists. The Chamber also offers a free outdoor music concert series and coordinates the Public Art Committees acquisition program. Visual Arts

AttenD A specIAL eVent

On the first Saturday night of December, many residents turn out for Candlelight Posada, which includes food booths, luminaries, a parade, live entertainment, caroling and a live nativity scene. If youre looking for food festivals, theres also the Sizzling in the Tropics BBQ Cookoff, or McAllens newest way to treat your tastebuds: the Santa Fe Wine Classic. If you like your festivals a little more musical, Music After Hours is a free outdoor concert series thats sure to please. McAllen Blues Night is another option. This blues-y delight is the best way to catch some of the areas most talented blues performers.


The International Museum of Art & Science, founded in 1969, promotes an appreciation for the arts and sciences through its exhibitions, cultural events and many educational programs. In 2013, IMAS is partnering with the City of McAllen to present an unprecedented exhibition of sculptures by the world famous Mexican Master, Sebastian. IMAS is located at 1900 Nolana Ave. McAllen Art Walk is a self-guided tour that gives art lovers the opportunity to explore the many art offerings in the city. Its held every first Friday from September through May and is free and open to the public.



Historic Sites

Step BAcK In tIMe

The McAllen Heritage Center, located on South Main Street in a historic former post office building now known as La Placita, opened in 2008. The center showcases exhibits about the citys colorful history, hosts storytelling and childrens events, and recently opened a gift shop. Admission to the center is free. Another favorite is Quinta Mazatlan, a 1930s hacienda that embodies the Spanish Colonial Revival architecture of arches, adobe and beams, and provides an intimate look into South Texas history. The 10,000-square-foot mansion sits on a 15-acre plot hosting a mix of native and exotic plants and wildlife, making up McAllens wing of the popular World Birding Center. Live Entertainment

The Museum of South Texas History tells the regions story through a collection of exhibits that feature fossils, Spanish colonial treasure, ancient tools and other artifacts from the area.

Learn About the Rio Grande Valleys Culture

EnJoY A peRFoRMAnce
The 17th Street Entertainment District in downtown McAllen overflows with lounges, restaurants and clubs. For live music, visit The Old Ice House or Cine El Rey, which opened in 1947 and today functions as a music and performance venue, plus showcases Spanish and English independent films. The citys diverse culture influences much of the music performed by the Valley Symphony Orchestra & Chorale. The Symphony was established in 1952 with the Chorale joining later, in 1984. Similarly, the South Texas Lyric Opera brings the fine art of opera to the Rio Grande Valley with a yearly slate of productions and an annual opera gala, and Rio Grande Valley Broadway brings popular stage shows to town, such as Disneys Beauty and the Beast and Monty Pythons Spamalot. Continue reading about McAllens fun attractions at tx/things-to-do.

Do-It-Yourself Pottery

CReAte YoUR own MAsteRpIece

McAllen, like the rest of Texas, is full of folks who arent afraid to get their hands dirty when its time to work. Some of them even get their hands dirty when its time to play. If thats you, visit Artsy Pots, a DIY pottery store. And dont forget to bring your kids! Artsy Pots also has camps and classes for aspiring potters of all ages.
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THInGs To Do: sports & recreation

A Growing Playground

PLANS TAKE SHAPE FOR MANY NEW RECREATiON FACiLiTiES McAllens long list of outdoor opportunities golf, hiking, biking, birding and fishing, among others is expanding, with several new facilities on the way.
Coming Soon

Nearly 20 courses grace the McAllen area. One notable venue is Palm View Golf Course, an 18-hole public facility often used for tournaments. Among private courses, one top attraction is McAllen Country Club, where tree-lined fairways and small greens provide a challenge.

Tee it Up and Take a Swing

new pARKs DeVeLopMents

Construction of a new $5 million De Leon North Soccer Complex behind De Leon Middle School is scheduled for completion in mid-2014, with games and tournaments to begin in September 2014. The complex features nine fields, including three that can be used for both soccer and football. In addition, a 16-field Little League baseball complex will be built, with one field for children with disabilities. The existing Municipal Park and its four baseball fields will be reconfigured into six girls softball fields. Plans have been approved for an off-road McAllen Motocross Park that will be funded through a grant from Texas Parks & Wildlife, with the design phase initiated in early 2014. An 18-hole city disc golf course has been approved across from Palm View Golf Course, with planning to begin in early 2014.


All of my familys special events were hosted at the MCC from bat mitzvahs to graduation brunches. The service is beyond great. [The McAllen Country Club is a] great place to grow up, swim, work out, play golf and hang out with friends or family.

McAllen Country Clu b s clubhouse includes five dining roo ms, a fitness center, two pro shops and more.

Learn more about recreation in McAllen at tx/activities.



Hit the Trails

Hikers and bikers enjoy plenty of trails on the east and west sides of town, including the Retama Village Park Trail , Westside Park Trail and Las Palmas Park Trail. Visiting cyclists are welcome to meet up with Team McAllen Cycling, a bike club thats been active in the city for more than 25 years.

City Parks

SpenD tIMe enJoYInG tHe GReAt oUtDooRs

McAllen Parks & Recreation currently oversees 52 city parks, including Archer Park, which opened in 1912. Springfest Park is the citys largest park, and a new Spray Ground Park has opened at 29th and Zinnia. Town Lake at Firemens Park provides a fishing experience in the middle of town. The lake is stocked with catfish, perch and trout, and people can canoe or kayak across its 4 acres.

THInGs to Do: see the city

Visit McAllens Bird Sanctuary

The Quinta Mazatlan mansion in McAllen, built in the 1930s, is now an urban sanctuary that includes dozens of species of birds, as well as butterflies, plants and gardens. The facility offer guided tours, educational programs for kids and adults, and hosts special events. See more photos of McAllens top spots at



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Schools, health care and neighborhoods in McAllen



The 123,000-square-foot McAllen Public Library, also known as the New Main Library, is the largest single-floor library in the U.S. The library won first place in the International Interior Design Associations 2012 Library Interior Design Competition. Check out more photos of McAllens most popular attractions and destinations at

Award-Winning Public Library

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McAllen ISD increases International BaccalaUreate Programs in area schools

decade after becoming the first South Texas school district to produce International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme graduates, McAllen Independent School District aims to bring the programs to all of its schools by 2014.

An IB Diploma Programme student at Lamar Academy gives a presentation.



Students at Francisca Alvarez Elementary in the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme do research on their iPads.

The academically rigorous International Baccalaureate programs encourage students to take a globally informed view in all of their studies, adopt international perspectives, appreciate cultural diversity, and develop original and critical-thinking skills along with a passion for lifelong learning. IB graduates can also earn college credit, with public universities in Texas granting at least 24 credit hours for a student with an IB Diploma. McAllen ISD, with funding and support from the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and the McAllen Economic Development Corporation, chose IB after considering several different programs to give students an advanced, competitive edge. Since the McAllen ISD opened the IB Diploma Programme for 11th and 12th grade students at Lamar Academy in 2001, it has become an IB district, with many of its elementary school campuses adopting the Primary Years Programme and five of seven middle schools adopting the Middle Years Programme. Today, the programs 99.4 percent diploma success rate makes it one of the premier programs in the world.

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International Baccalaureate students in a theater class at Lamar Academy learn to use make-up to create special effects.

Pecan Boulevard

McALLen InDepenDent ScHooL DIstRIct North 10th Street Interstate 83

Miracle Mile

Lamar Academy IB Coordinator Marissa Sarabando says its a model catching on throughout the region, as well. Along with growth in our district, at least three other IB programs have been developed in neighboring communities and school districts, Sarabando says. The merits of an IB education are evident in the Rio Grande Valley region. BAcK to ScHooL Lamar Academy 11th grade IB history teacher Samuel Friedman says the programs standards are tough, and he should know. Friedman graduated from the program in 2005 and returned to his alma mater in fall 2013 to teach. He credits the programs rigor as the best part of taking IB classes.

West Military Highway



Its very nice to teach at a school where, by and large, kids want to be there.

Friedman says IB students bring an eagerness to dig deeper into subjects, allowing him to focus on teaching the useful side of history. Knowing his students will do the background reading and other work he assigns gives them more time in the classroom to explore and analyze events far beyond traditional instruction. I always knew it would be the kind of place Id like to work, Friedman says. Its very nice to teach at a school where, by and large, kids want to be there. Appreciation for the program extends to many of Friedmans peers. A series of McAllen ISD IB graduates participated in a video now on the districts website. In it, they thank the district for providing the program and credit it for their success at colleges including the University of Texas, Carnegie Mellon University and Harvard University. by Kristi Stephens Walker by staff photographer Wendy Jo OBarr


Global L

after becomi district to produce ng the first South Texas International Programme Baccalaureate school graduates, District aims Diploma McAllen Indepen to bring the dent programs to all of its schools School by 2014.


Students at Francisca Alvarez Elementar in the Internation Years Programm al Baccalaureate Primaryy e do research on their iPads.

An IB Diploma Programm Lamar Academy e student gives a presentatioat n.



The academica lly rigorous Baccalaureate Internation programs encourage al a globally informed view in all of students to take international their studies, perspective adopt s, appreciate and develop cultural diversity, original and critical-thin with a passion king skills along for IB graduates lifelong learning. can also earn public universitie college s in Texas granting credit, with credit hours for a at least McAllen ISD, student with an IB Diploma.24 with funding McAllen Chamber and of Commerce support from the Economic Developm and ent Corporatio the McAllen considering n, chose IB several different after students an programs to advanced, Since the McAllen competitive edge. give ISD Programme for 11th and opened the IB Diploma 12th grade students Academy in 2001, it has at Lamar become an many of its IB district, with elementary school Primary Years Programme campuses adopting the schools adopting and five of seven middle the Middle Today, the programs Years Programm e. 99.4 percent rate makes it one of the diploma success premier programs in the world.


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LIVING: EdUcation

Set for Success

MCALLEN SCHOOLS EQuiP STuDENTS FOR COLLEgE AND CAREERS In McAllen, exciting news in higher education adds to an excellent public school system known for major investments in technology and college preparatory programs.
Charter School

IDEA Academy, an innovative public charter school, offers a fully scaled curriculum for students in kindergarten, first, second and sixth grades. The school, which opened in McAllen in 2012, will eventually add more grades, each with approximately 110 students. While the school is public, students must apply to fill the 460 available spots. To prepare its students to be collegiate scholars, IDEA provides the International Baccalaureate curriculum as well as the Road to College program, which begins in the sixth grade. Higher Education

UnIVeRsItY oF TeXAs scHooLs AnD SoUtH TeXAs CoLLeGe

McAllen will be home to the administrative offices of the newly announced merger of the University of Texas-Pan American, Edinburg and the University of Texas, Brownsville. The combined universities will become the nations second-largest university serving the Hispanic community. The union, which will feature a new medical school, is expected to be a boon for job growth. South Texas College enrolls more than 30,000 students in many associate and bachelors degree programs as well as those seeking professional certifications in more than 40 areas of study. Find out more about why McAllen is a great place to learn at mcallen/tx/schools.

One of four high schools in the McAllen ISD, McAllen High School serves more than 2,200 students in grades 9-12. Public Schools

Interactive Education

McALLen InDepenDent ScHooL DIstRIct

McAllen Independent School District comprises four high schools, seven middle schools and 20 elementary schools. The district offers a dual-enrollment program for students to gain high school and college credit simultaneously, as well as Advanced Placement college-level courses. McAllen ISDs International Baccalaureate program has a 99.4 percent success rate, ranking it among the most successful in the world. IB world schools have a global focus on challenging, high-quality education. McAllen ISD engages students with its innovative TLC3 (Transforming Learning in the Classroom, Campus and Community) program that equips every student from grade 3 and above with an iPad and younger students with the iPod Touch. Meanwhile, the McAllen ISD Board of Trustees was named the states Outstanding Board of the Year, topping more than 1,000 other districts in Texas.



South Texas College is a very good college to attend for the fact that the classes are not too big, so there is more one-on-one between teachers and students. The tuition is inexpensive compared to other universities. Last, the professors are very helpful; they want you to succeed.

Campus of Opportunity

South Texas College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs.

2000 N. 23rd St. McAllen, TX 78501 (956) 618-6000

al n o i t Na ate t S d an in R E D LEA n! o i t a Educ

All three comprehensive high schools listed in Newsweeks Americas Best High Schools, proven most effective in turning out college-ready graduates! Our graduates earned more than 17,000 college credit hours while in high school, saving families about $15.6 million in tuition! Our graduates earned about $23 million in scholarships! Many earn associate degrees up to 70 college hours! Many begin college ranked as sophomores or juniors! District produces state champions students and adults. District part of National League of Innovative Schools and Texas High Performing Schools Consortium. Home of Texas award-winning district Texas Outstanding School Board of the Year highest award! Superintendent named Top 5 State Finalist, TASA Superintendent of the Year! District ranked national Best Communities for Music Education! Home of 19 regional or state Teacher of the Year awards in 23 years! District awarded Texas Comptroller Gold Leadership Circle Award. District earned Standard & Poors highest rating of AAA to refunding bonds. District awarded 18th Annual Achievement of Excellence in Procurement Award.

LIVING: Health

Big on Health Care

FOuR QuALiTY HOSPiTALS SERvE VALLEY RESiDENTS McAllens four main health-care centers, plus the McAllen Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic, help residents achieve and maintain healthy bodies and minds.
McALLen MeDIcAL CenteR
McAllen Medical Center is the Upper Valleys lead trauma center, with a focus on neurological and orthopedic care, evidenced by the hospitals certifications as a Primary Stroke Center and a Bone and Joint Center of Excellence. The 441-bed hospital is also home to the Valleys only transplant center, a new pediatric unit, a dedicated oncology unit and a familyfocused birthing center with an advanced Newborn Intensive Care Unit just steps away. Physicians and staff are among the best in the country. A respected health-care institution for more than 70 years, McAllen Medical Center is recognized as having established benchmarks for success. McAllen Medical Centers parent company, Universal Health Services, Inc., is one of the nations largest health-care management companies. More than 600 physicians representing over 50 specialties are members of the medical staff. The Advanced Level III Trauma Center, South Texas Transplant Center, Certified Bone and Joint Center for Orthopedic Care, Accredited Chest Pain Center, Certified Primary Stroke Center and the Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit are among the services offered.

McALLen HeARt HospItAL

McAllen Heart Hospital is the first freestanding cardiology and cardiovascular hospital built in the United States. Dedicated to patients heart-related medical needs, McAllen Heart Hospital specializes in diagnosis and treatment, emergency heart care, heart catheterization, heart surgery and education. The hospital also offers a results-driven Weight Loss Surgery Program. The 60-bed hospital has cardiac catheterization labs and open-heart operating suites. Since its founding, it has been the market-share leader for cardiovascular care in the South Texas region. Cardiac medicine is one of the cornerstone service lines for South Texas. The hospital is nationally recognized as a leader in excellence, technology, quality, and service capabilities. McAllen Heart Hospital offers the only Accredited Chest Pain Center with Percutaneous Coronary Interventions (PCI) in the Upper Rio Grande Valley area, and is a Certified Primary Stroke Center. The hospital also offers a Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence. The Emergency Center is a Designated Level IV Trauma Center.

DoctoRs HospItAL At RenAIssAnce

Since it opened in 1997, Doctors Hospital at Renaissance has been committed to setting a standard of excellence in patient care. Founded by eight physicians, whose focus was on patient care and patients who wanted decisions to be made locally by doctors, the hospital is a 506-bed acute care facility providing a full range of services with 50 specialties and sub-specialties. It has been ranked among the nations 100 Top Hospitals by Thomson Reuters, and as one of the top 100 hospitals for cardiovascular care. Doctors Hospital at Renaissance has 3,400 employees and over 568 physicians on its medical staff, representing more than 50 specialties. The hospital continues its long tradition of focusing on state-of-the-art equipment and care delivery.

LivA B i L i T Y. C O M /M C A L L E N



Founded in 1982, Rio Grande Regional Hospital is a 320-bed, full-service medical facility serving the Rio Grande Valley. With 500 physicians representing more than 35 specialties, Rio Grande Regional Hospital, along with Childrens Medical Center at Rio Grande Regional Hospital, offers an array of comprehensive services including full surgical and diagnostic capabilities; cardiac care; surgical services; radiology; womens services; diabetes management; intensive care for adults and children; neonatal care; physical, occupational and speech therapy; advanced level III trauma services; an on-site helicopter landing zone and an off-site emergency department. The hospital also has a keen focus on children and is the areas first hospital to have a Pediatric Heart Program. Rio Grande Regional also has an acclaimed Womens Services department, with a 27-bed obstetrics and gynecology unit that provides post-operative care.

McALLen VeteRAns ADMInIstRAtIon OUtpAtIent CLInIc

This new 80,000-square-foot outpatient facility opened in late 2013 to provide a variety of primary care services and outpatient specialty care. The $29 million McAllen Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic on East Hackberry Avenue has an on-site radiology lab and pharmacy. Its services include podiatry, mental health, womens health, social work and nutrition programs.

fasT facT
McAllen is home to more than 10 health-care clinics, including urgent care centers.



20% 33% White Black 1% 15% 47% 12% Hispanic Other

cost oF LIVInG

Median Household Income

Median Home Price

72% Median Rent for a Two-Bedroom Apartment

19 and Under 20-54 55 and Over
(percentages based on the total = 277,584)

(percentages based on the total = 277,584)

Median Travel Time to Work

January Average Low July Average High

96 76

16.61 minutes
Closest Airport: McAllen-Miller International Airport



January Low National Low

July High

National High

THIs sectIon Is sponsoReD BY

South Texas Finest Gift Store Offers Gifts From Around the World

4300 N. 10th St. Ste. C McAllen, TX 78504 (956) 686-1264 Look for us on Facebook!

LIVInG: see the city



Admire World-Class Art

McAllens International Museum of Art and Science features revolving art and science exhibits, as well as permanent collections, including these stained glass windows. The pieces on display are part of the Sacred Visions: Stained Glass Windows from the Louis Comfort Tiffany Studios exhibit. Dr. Lawrence and Esperanza Gelman permanently loaned the works to IMAS. Browse through more photos that showcase McAllens diverse cultural attractions at

LivA B i L i T Y. C O M /M C A L L E N


Info on McAllens top employers, jobs and success stories

Red Hot Retail

The 1.2 million-square-foot La Plaza Mall is a major shopping and dining destination with retailers such as Dillards, Abercrombie & Fitch, Express and Macys, and a newly remodeled and expanded food court with restaurants such as Villa Pizza, Green Leaves, Beyond Great and Little Tokyo. The malls sister shopping center, Palms Crossing, is less than a mile away. See more images of the McAllen community at



LivA B i L i T Y. C O M /M C A L L E N


BUsIness: overview

The Best of Times

BuSiNESS LiFE iN MCALLEN SHOWS NO SigN OF SLOWiNg DOWN McAllen continues to prove its prowess as a healthy place for business and a desirable location for leading retail and manufacturing industries.
Business Advantages Retail

Its SMARt to InVest In McALLen

Its easy to see why McAllen is so attractive to businesses and industry. Its the first non-seaport foreign trade zone in the U.S. and has three international bridges and two major interstates, plus accessibility to seaports along the Gulf of Mexico. McAllen also is the U.S.s top shopping destination for Mexico. Many companies from entrepreneur-owned to Fortune 500 are already here. Manufacturing

McALLen Is A MAJoR sHoppInG DestInAtIon

As the retail hub of South Texas, McAllen booms with a customer base of more than 10 million people within a 200-mile radius, and representation by at least 40 of Americas top 100 retailers. Pumping much of the life into this retail hotspot, La Plaza Mall annually attracts more than 18 million shoppers. Anchor stores such as Dillards and Macys, and other sought-after retailers, including BCBG-Max Azria and Coach, average sales of more than $650 per square foot, making them among the companies most profitable store locations. Other shopping centers in the area include Trenton Crossing, Las Tiendas Plaza and La Plaza Malls 600000-square-foot sister shopping center Palms Crossing, which has about 40 stores. Downtown McAllen is also ideal for shopping, especially given its number of specialty shops featuring one-of-a-kind items.

AReA coMpAnIes cReAte qUALItY pRoDUcts

Ranked third in Texas in per-capita sales, this progressive city bustling with business opportunities is also home to some of the largest manufacturing and wholesale companies in the nation. Valley Coca Cola Bottling Co., GE Engines Services and Wood Crafters are just a few to have set up shop in McAllen. Nearby, Tri-City Steel provides a full scope of steel construction by fabricating and erecting structural steel buildings, pre-engineered metal buildings, stairs, handrails and more. Founded in 1968, Texas Citrus Exchange, located 6 miles from McAllen, is the exclusive manufacturer of Texas Rio Red grapefruit juice.

Convenient Air Travel

A key McAllen transportation advantage is McAllen-Miller International Airport, particularly its nonstop service between McAllen and Mexico City via Aeromar. Introduced in March 2013, the service has already grown.

Find out more about McAllens business climate and workforce at livability. com/mcallen/tx/business.

LivA B i L i T Y. C O M /M C A L L E N


Magnificent Meeting Spaces

The 18.5-acre McAllen Convention Center complex draws businesses and travelers to the area, with its 60,000-square-foot, column-free exhibit hall, more than 25,000 square feet of meeting space and up to 16 breakout rooms. Since opening in 2007, the Convention Center has had an economic benefit of more than $40 million for McAllen businesses.



Business Spotlight
NIU Urban Living provides residential and commercial design services to the McAllen area. NIU offers interior and exterior design, window treatments and textiles, and solutions for sleep.


Shah Eye Center delivers eye care to the Rio Grande Valley with services that include LASIK surgery, cataract surgery, retina distress, diabetes eye care and glaucoma eye care. The facility is served by three medical doctors, a doctor of optometry and a team of technicians.

Oh Kays offers fine gifts such as glassware and home dcor items, suitable for most special occasions. The store carries popular brands like MacKenzieChilds and Mary Rose Young, and also has bridal gifts.

Carats Jewelry is a fine jewelry retailer that also sells home dcor items and gifts from all over the world. Jewelry pieces available at Carats include those by well-known designers such as Roberto Coin, Missoni and Mikimoto, among others.

PeRFect PAws Pet SALon & ResoRt

Perfect Paws Pet Salon & Resort provides pet grooming services to McAllen. Perfect Paws also offers boarding, day care and dog training. The staff has more than 64 years of combined experience.


Family Ties

Originally opened on South Main Street in 1926, The Man Shop is now located across from La Plaza Mall. The family-owned shop sells suits, dress pants, shirts, ties and accessories, and also offers custom alterations.



Small Businesses,
McAllen offers an ideal location with special programs, livability and more


mall business is big-time in McAllen. Studies prove it in rankings and numbers, and small business owners themselves testify to it through bottom lines and longevity. For many reasons, McAllen offers the ideal location for smaller companies and entrepreneurs.
McAllen is a better quality-of-life city, says Neil Westerman, third-generation owner of The Man Shop and Man Shop Shoes. We have a healthy manufacturing business here, and that helps the economy. We also have a lot of Winter Texans, snowbirds who come down from the north each winter. RAnKInG HIGH McAllens rich climate for small business is partly borne out in a 2012 survey by The Business Journals. McAllen-Edinburg ranked fifth in the publications list of cities in the South with the healthiest small-business climates. The metropolitan area received top 5 rankings in four out of six categories, including top rankings for one-year growth in concentration and one-year growth in small businesses.

Neil Westerman, third-generation owner of The Man Shop and Man Shop Shoes

LivA B i L i T Y. C O M /M C A L L E N


The Man Shop has helped McAllen men look and feel their best for more than 85 years by offering top brands, such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Michael Kors, and tailoring each garment to fit perfectly.

Quality Clothing, Custom Touches

We want every business to succeed, and we are here to help our members make money. Small businesses are what keep our economy thriving.

Findings such as these dont surprise the staff at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, which uses several programs to help small businesses thrive and offers assistance to startups. The majority of our members are small businesses, at least 75-80 percent, says Blanca Cardenas, the Chambers Vice President of Membership Services. We want every business to succeed, and we are here to help our members make money. Small businesses are what keep our economy thriving. One program the chamber has implemented is Innovation Grants, awarded each year to businesses that create new and innovative ideas. Were always striving for new innovations, Cardenas says, and weve had some real success

stories out of that. The Chamber also has small business grants and a program known as the I&E Network, designed to help Chamber-member inventors and entrepreneurs exchange ideas with other members. Its great because youre connecting with the right people, Cardenas says. Other Chamber programs and innovations include the Idea Lab, where members and nonmembers can exchange business ideas; mobile apps for displaying coupons for area retailers and restaurants; a scanning game allowing members to share virtual business cards through QR codes; and Business Power Network, a sort of speed-dating activity that allows members to network.



Former New Orleans resident Maurice Welton opened an Edible Arrangements store in McAllen in 2007. Due to his success, he won a Top 5 Small Business Award from the McAllen Chamber of Commerce in 2012. Welton now owns three additional Edible Arrangement sstores in other Texas cities and employs more than 15 people.

Sweet Taste of Success

KnowInG tHe CUstoMeRs The success of small businesses in McAllen can also come down to just plain good business sense by owners. The Man Shop, for instance, has been offering topnotch mens clothing and service since Westermans grandfather, Adolf Westerman, opened the store in 1926. We get so much competition from all these big-box stores, so really the only way to separate us is on our service and knowing the customers, Westerman says. Its key to know the area, and we do. Another example of savvy entrepreneurship in the area is Maurice Welton, franchise owner of Edible Arrangements in McAllen and in three additional locations in other cities. He received a Top 5 Small Business Award in 2012 from the Chamber. by John McBryde by staff photographer Wendy Jo OBarr


Small Busin esses

mall busines s Studies prove is big-time in McAlle n. numbers, and it in rankings and small themselves testify to it business owners through bottom and longevi ty. lines offers the ideal For many reasons, McAlle location for n and entrepr smaller compan eneurs. ies
McAllen is Westerman, a better quality-of-life third-generation city, says Neil and Man Shop owner of The Man Shop business here, Shoes. We have a healthy a lot of Winter and that helps the economy.manufacturing We also have the north each Texans, snowbirds who come down winter. from RANKING HIGH McAllens rich climate for borne out in a 2012 survey small business is partly McAllen-Edinburg by The Business Journals. ranked of cities in the South with fifth in the publicatio ns list climates. The the metropolitan healthiest small-busi in four out ness area received of six top 5 rankings one-year growth categories, including top rankings in concentrat in small businesses for ion and one-year . growth






Originally opened on South Man Shop is now located Main Street in 1926, The The family-ow across from La Plaza Mall. ned ties and accessorie shop sells suits, dress pants, s, and also shirts, offers custom alterations .

Family Ties

Neil Westerma n, third-gene owner of The ration Man Shop and Man Shop Shoes


T Y. CO M /M




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BUsIness: Chamber Report

Whats the Big Idea?

The McAllen Chamber of Commerce rolled out a program in 2013 called Idea Lab to help entrepreneurs develop their ideas or products to a pre-launch stage. As a result, Will Brinsdon is now marketing a Seat Buddy inflatable seat cushion that provides more comfort for truck drivers, and Dalinda Gonzalez-Alcantar developed a Smartphone app called eJucomm that allows school districts to communicate more effectively with parents and students about the school happenings. peRFectInG tHe pRocess Steve Ahlenius, President and CEO of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, says Idea Lab involves entrepreneurs participating in a seven-session process that, ideally, will result in their initial ideas advancing to the marketing phase. Idea Lab is a process of self-discovery that helps innovators figure out if their ideas are viable, if there would be enough of a market, whether they want to license, who should be on their team and many other issues, he says. Each of the seven sessions takes about an hour, and entrepreneurs must research and work on their ideas to take steps forward before the next session. Ahlenius says the sessions also cover topics such as attracting investors and protecting ideas. By the end of Idea Lab, participants will have marketing pitches of two minutes, five minutes, as well as a 20-minute pitch, he says. During the first six months of Idea Lab, the Chamber worked with 20 entrepreneurs, with the best ideas qualifying for individual $10,000 Chamber Innovation Grants to help get their ideas closer to the marketplace. Besides Seat Buddy and eJucomm, other entrepreneurial efforts that have gone through the


Idea Lab include the In The Weeds Natural Skin Care product line by entrepreneur Lisa Lika Torline and a device invented by David and Samuel Olivarez for safer and more time-efficient weightlifting. Our product doesnt have a name yet, but its basically a wristband swiveling hook that makes lifting barbells and dumbbells more efficient for both men and women, says David Olivarez. We have our utility patent pending thanks to help from the Idea Lab, which really helped us bring our product to reality and to the marketing stage. by Kevin Litwin

LivA B i L i T Y. C O M /M C A L L E N


ecOnOmIc PROfIle
21% 8% 54% 17% City Sales and Use Tax 1,999500 2,9992,000 3,000+

2% 0%
County Sales Tax

Top EMpLoYeRs
McAllen Independent School District, Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District University of Texas Pan American, McAllen Medical Center The City of McAllen, Rio Grande Regional Hospital, South Texas College

eDUcAtIon LeVeL
High School Graduate Associate Degree Bachelors Degree Masters Degree

State Sales Tax

Total Sales Tax


HoUseHoLD IncoMe
$200,000+ 1,077 $100,000-199,999 $99,999 and Under


Annual Retail Sales

Annual Hotel and Food Sales

McAllen-Miller International Airport Metro McAllen Amtrak

THIs sectIon Is sponsoReD BY

Total Number of Firms


Ad Index


Castle Hospitality City of McAllen Public Info Office Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Dunami Studio Family Physicians Clinic International Museum of Art & Science McAllen Country Club McAllen Economic Development Corporation McAllen Heritage Center McAllen Independent School District McAllen International Airport OH KAYS! Quinta Mazatlan Redhorse Labor Rio Grande Regional Hospital South Texas College South Texas Health System The Mailing Store Valley Care Clinic

Editor | Lisa Battles Contributing Writers | Marc Acton, Carol Cowan, Kevin Litwin, John McBryde, Braxton Shoop, Kristi Stephens Walker Content Coordinator | Jessica Walker Boehm Staff Writer | Kevin Litwin Proofreading Manager | Raven Petty Content Operations | Kate Swanson, Lauren Zimmerman Lead Designer | Jake Shores Senior Graphic Designers | Stacey Allis, Laura Gallagher, Kris Sexton, Vikki Williams Graphic Designers | Jackie Ciulla, Lindsey Higgins, Kacey Passmore, Matt West Creative Technology Analyst | Becca Ary Lead Photographer | Wendy Jo OBarr Senior Photographers | Jeff Adkins, Brian McCord Staff Photographers | Michael Conti, Wendy Jo OBarr, Frank Ordoez, Michael Tedesco Color Imaging Technician | Alison Hunter Integrated Media Manager | Seth Israelsen Advertising Production/ Sales Manager | Katie Middendorf Sales Support Coordinator | Christina Morgan Ad Traffic Assistants | Krystin Lemmon, Patricia Moisan Web Project Manager | David Day Digital Project Manager | Jill Ridenour Digital Products Designer | Erica Lampley Web Developer I | Nels Noseworthy Web Designer II | Richard Stevens Chairman | Greg Thurman President/Publisher | Bob Schwartzman Executive Vice President | Ray Langen Senior V.P./Sales | Todd Potter, Jarek Swekosky Senior V.P./Client Development | Jeff Heefner Senior V.P./Operations | Casey Hester Senior V.P./Digital | Michael Barber V.P./Content Operations | Natasha Lorens Creative Services Director | Christina Carden Photography Director | Jeffrey S. Otto Web Creative Director | Allison Davis Controller | Chris Dudley Senior Accountant | Lisa Owens Accounts Payable Coordinator | Maria McFarland Accounts Receivable Coordinator | Diana Iafrate, Becca Sweitzer IT Director | Daniel Cantrell Database Director | Debbie Woksa Executive Secretary | Kristy Giles Human Resources Manager | Peggy Blake

2014 edITIOn

VOlUme 12

Livability McAllen, TX is published annually by Journal Communications Inc. and is distributed through the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and its member businesses. For advertising information or to direct questions or comments about the magazine, contact Journal Communications Inc. at (615) 771-0080 or by email at For more information, contact: McAllen Chamber of Commerce 1200 Ash Ave. McAllen, TX 78505 Phone: (956) 682-2871 Fax: (956) 687-2917 Visit Livability: McAllen, Texas online at Copyright 2013 Journal Communications Inc., 725 Cool Springs Blvd., Suite 400, Franklin, TN 37067, (615) 771-0080. All rights reserved. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in whole or in part without written consent. Member The Association of Magazine Media Member Custom Content Council Member McAllen Chamber of Commerce