Port Isabel has a new Event and Cultural Center that officials hope will provide local businesses with opportunities and encourage Port Isabel and South Padre Island to continue to work together.
The ECC recently opened near the PortIsabelHistoricalMuseum in the ChampionBuilding.
ECC director Mari Galvan said the center will provide local businesses with many opportunities. It has an 8,000-square-foot ballroom named the Queen Isabella, which can be divided into two rooms, the Reyna Isabella and El Fronton.
Funding for the $3.9 million center is through a $4 million loan by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Community Facility Program.
City Manager Edward Meza said the Port Isabel Economic Development Corporation was able to match the loan funds with a $1 million contribution. According to a news release from the USDA, the multi-purpose building will host large community gatherings and also serve as an emergency command center and shelter for rural residents during emergency situations, such as hurricanes. It will benefit more than 1,300 community members in the immediate area.
Galvan said the center is expected to bring in an estimated $300,000 a year within the first few years.
The ECC features an emergency operations center called the boardroom to house emergency medical and rescue staff in the event of a natural disaster or state of emergency.
The ECC is designed to be self-sustaining for two-weeks and includes a generator and the latest communications technology for emergency staff to keep in touch with local and state government agencies. The bathrooms include showers for the staff. Galvan said the center and the boardroom are both built with rebar-reinforced concrete block to withstand hurricane-force winds.
Galvan said bringing businesses to the event center is an easy sell.
“A big advantage of hosting an event or training session at the center is that Port Isabel is a walk-around town, meaning that everything is within walking distance and local museums provide fun activities for the families of those traveling to Port Isabel,” Galvan said.
Galvan said the blue aquatic-themed front of the ECC can be seen from the QueenIsabellaMemorialBridge returning from South Padre Island, a sight sure to gain recognition from locals and tourists alike.
Rio GrandeValley residents can look forward to more regional events coming to the area and expanded tourism over the next few years, Galvan said.