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Business Community Witnesses Signing of BiNED Agreement at Annual Event

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – MARCH 21, 2014 – El Gran Salón at The University of Texas at Brownsville was filled to capacity today with business leaders from throughout the Lower Rio Grande Valley and Matamoros, Mexico, for the third annual Business Awards Breakfast hosted by the School of Business.
Taking advantage of the large gathering, mayors Tony Martinez of Brownsville, Chris Boswell of Harlingen and Lety Salazar of Matamoros signed the Binational Border Economic Development (BiNED) Zone agreement to create an integrated innovative and competitive binational advanced manufacturing zone along the U.S./Mexico border to capture a share of the economic development resurgence of near shoring advanced manufacturing that is occurring in the interior of Mexico.
Mayors Tony Martinez of Brownsville, Lety Salazar of Matamoros and Chris Boswell of Harlingen signed the Binational Border Economic Development (BiNED) Zone Agreement.
Dr. Juliet V. García, President of UTB, welcomed the keynote speaker, William Klesse, CEO and Chairman of the Board of the world’s largest refiner and marketer of petroleum products, Valero Energy Corporation.
Klesse spoke of the need for strong ties between the business community, the university and the university’s students – that each must support the other to generate a healthy economy.
In presenting a review of the state of the petroleum industry, he said the North American “manufacturing renaissance” was not expected, that this is the “biggest event in business to happen in our lifetime.”
“Permits need to be streamlined and issued, and we need trained welders and pipefitters; the old ones are retiring,” he said. “This is an exciting time for our country. The president should get behind this; all the production is on private land, not federal land.”
Videos of the business and philanthropic contributions of the three awardees were shown, and each was presented with a plaque by García and Dr. Mark Kroll, Dean of the School of Business.
The awardees this year were Scott Friedman, Dr. Ricardo Diaz Garza and Gregg McCumber.
Friedman is a restaurateur and president of the Friedman Companies. Friedman’s businesses include Pirates Landing and Marcelo’s Italian Restaurant on the Port Isabel Lighthouse Square and Pier 19 on South Padre Island. Friedman is the current chair of the Port Isabel Economic Development Corporation, past chair of the South Padre Island Economic Development Corporation and current chair of the Laguna Madre Water District.
Diaz Garza, a practicing orthodontist for 35 years, is the founder of several charity organizations, including Caritas de Matamoros, providing medicine, medical treatment, doctors, food and clothing to needy residents of the area, and the Matamoros Food Bank which provides foodstuffs to over 15,000 families per year. Diaz is also a businessman; he has constructed industrial buildings and provides warehousing to maquiladoras established in Matamoros. He is also President of the University CUN in Matamoros.
Brownsville native McCumber, a founding partner of Burton McCumber & Cortez, LLP, established in 1991, has been the Managing Partner of the firm’s Valley offices since 2006. The firm today has five U.S. partners and employs 27 Certified Public Accountants in Brownsville and McAllen. Burton McCumber & Cortez is also a partner in the Mexican accounting firm of BMC y Fragoso S.C., with offices in Matamoros and Reynosa and a staff of about 40 persons.
McCumber is a past board member and chair of the Brownsville Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Community Development Corporation of Brownsville. Currently, he serves on several boards, including the UTB Entrepreneurship and Commercialization Center Board and the UTB Business Advisory Board.
William Klesse, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Valero Energy Corporation, spoke with students in a lecture hall of Main Building.
After the breakfast, Klesse gave his presentation to business students. A question was posed from the student audience about what he looks for when he is hiring graduates.
Klesse stressed the need for skills such as accounting, Internet technology and engineering, but that students should also be mindful of their appearance and attitude.
He said students who are interested in working with Valero must put a high priority on safety, environment, community and customer service. He shared he is looking for employees that exhibit respect, dedication, integrity, generosity and teamwork – saying the complexity of today’s business is such that teamwork is essential.
Klesse left the students in the lecture hall with this advice: “Be optimistic and enthusiastic; you are in control of your own life.”
Brownsville native Ruben Lozoya (UTB, 2008), scheduled to graduate in May of this year with the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies, and Carlos Pouncey from Tallahassee, Florida (Florida State University, 2007), scheduled to graduate in May 2015 with the Master of Business Administration, were invited to lunch with a small group including Klesse at the President’s Office.
“Mr. Klesse, Dr. García, Dr. Pablo Rhi-Perez [Associate Professor, School of Business] and the other invitees shared their stories about their careers and the obstacles they faced,” Lozoya said. “Also, they let us share the work that we are currently undertaking as research assistants in the School of Business, and they provided us with some words of encouragement to continue working hard.”


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