The Rio Grande Valley has grown beyond “Friday night lights territorialism” to enjoy regional collaboration. We still have our hometown pride, but the 956 is a large umbrella we are proud to share, and it is growing ever larger. While the feeling of camaraderie (or at least, friendly rivalry) in the Valley makes living here that much more interesting, what is truly impressive is the growth happening all around us – and the fact that we’re managing to keep track of it all.
Populations and economies don’t stop at the borders of cities – or in our case, countries. In some cases it makes more sense to calculate the Valley’s success as a whole. Metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) allow us to take quantified measurements of our region’s resources and need. Thus informed, leaders can take accurate moves forward as a region.
“Our communities throughout the Rio Grande Valley, specifically the McAllen-Mission-Edinburg MSA, have recently been energized with remarkable economic growth – hundreds of new jobs, large population growth, new construction projects, prosperous economic development corporations, a new university and medical school,” says Texas Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa.
MSAs are geographic entities delineated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for use by federal statistical agencies in collecting, tabulating, and publishing federal statistics. The U.S. OMB delineates MSAs according to published standards that are applied to Census Bureau data. According to the Census website, a metro area contains a core urban area of 50,000 or more in population; as of July 2015, there are 382 metropolitan statistical areas in the United States.
Our hometown MSA, uniting all of Hidalgo county, is ranked the sixth most populated metropolitan area in the state. Anchored by the cities of McAllen, Edinburg, Pharr and Mission, the McAllen–Edinburg–Mission MSA in South Texas, is also part of the transnational metropolitan area of Reynosa–McAllen. (The title of each MSA consists of the names of up to three of its principal cities; additional cities qualify if specified requirements are met concerning population size and employment.)
The southern half of the Rioplex includes the Mexico border cities of Matamoros, Rio Bravo, and Reynosa, which contribute at least another 1.7 million to the region’s population. All together, the South Texan region is one of the fastest growing economies in the nation – and we do want to be together.
Sen. Hinojosa says a regional approach among our cities, county, and governmental entities is key. “We must encourage a regional mindset and collaborate to improve our critical infrastructure and transportation needs, to facilitate more trade with Mexico, to expand educational opportunities, and to increase access to health care for our uninsured,” says the region’s senior Texas senator.
Gains to be Made
However, Senator Hinojosa says we still have significant needs in our region that we must address to continue this economic boom. “We cannot sustain this growth or create a better future for our families without continuing to work together,” says Senator Hinojosa.
While OMB recognizes that a number of agencies, both inside and outside the Federal government, make use of the delineations of metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas for non-statistical programmatic applications, OMB delineates the areas for statistical purposes only. In delineating metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas, OMB does not attempt to anticipate or take into account any non-statistical uses that may be made of the delineations, nor will OMB modify the delineations to meet the requirements of any non-statistical program.