The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce held their 85th annual awards banquet on Wednesday, October 25th at Memorial Events Center.

The event was attended by 250 local business and community leaders and featured a social hour with music and a fine dinner. The banquet was emceed by Chamber Board of Director Elva Jackson Garza (Edwards Abstract and Title Co.). The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce recognized many local well-deserved leaders including the 2017 Man and Woman of the Year Manuel N. Cantu of Rio Valley Realty and Dr. Linda Villarreal of Memorial Medical Clinic.

Manuel N. Cantu, Jr. is a Realtor®/co-owner of Rio Valley Realty and is a partner in Red Rock Real Estate Development Group.  Manuel is married to Sylvia Cantu and has two daughters, Alyssa B. Cantu and Marla L. Cantu.  Both daughters are proud graduates of the University of Texas- Pan American and are currently Associate Realtors at Rio Valley Realty. Manuel began his career in 1990.  He, along with his partners, established Rio Valley Realty in 1994.  Manuel has served on the Greater McAllen Board of Realtors, is a member of the National Association of Realtors, Texas Association of Realtors and the International Council of Shopping Centers. 

Additionally, Manuel has been a member of the Edinburg Rotary Club for 10 years.  He has served on the Rotary Board of Directors, where he is the Chairman for Hunters for the Hungry.  Among his accolades and achievements, he has been honored with awards such as: Rotarian of the Year, Cajunfest King and is a recipient of the Paul Harris Award.  Presently, Manuel is Co-Chairman on the Hidalgo County Subdivision Advisory Board, a member of the Lone Star National Bank Advisory Board and is a former member of the City of Edinburg’s Planning and Zoning Commission.  

Dr. Linda Villarreal was born and raised in Edinburg, attending Sacred Heart School, Edinburg High School, Pan American College for one year before going to the University of Texas (when you didn’t have to say where it was!). She received a BS Degree in Pharmacy and practiced for 10 years before returning to medical school in 1980. She graduated from Universidad de Noreste Medical School in Tampico, Mexico and went on to do her medical student clinicals with the University of Houston, assisting in a research project at the state school in San Antonio TX. She occasionally states she spent a year at the mental hospital on South Presa!

She did her internship in Cleveland, Ohio and then went on to do her Internal Medicine Residency at Texas Tech Regional Academic Health Science Center in El Paso. Upon completion of her residency she arrived in Edinburg to establish her solo practice in General Internal Medicine at 1501 S Closner in August 1989 where she still practices today. Dr. Villarreal has volunteered her time to many organizations including Hope Free Medical Clinic, Arthritis Foundation Board, Joints in Motion Marathon Foundation, Hidalgo-Starr County Medical Society President, Chief of Staff at Edinburg Regional Medical Center for 2000-2001, the only woman to have held that position to date. She has served on the board for Easter Seals for 20 years serving as Chairman of the Board during that time receiving the Humanitarian of the Year award from Easter Seals. She has served on the board for the American Heart Association and was honored as a Heart of Gold recipient, and has been honored by Zonta.

The chamber also recognized outgoing and incoming officers and board members who serve the organization with dedication and enthusiasm. Among them was the 2016-2017 Chairman of the Board Jacob De Leon of Memorial Funeral Home. “I consider it an Honor and a privilege to stand before you and to have lead one of Edinburg’s finest organizations,” said Jacob De Leon. “the Chamber has always been filled with passion and dedication to contribute to Edinburg’s success.”  Jacob was presented a commemorative plaque and the covenant President’s Red Jacket for his service to the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce. 

Also honored that evening was incoming Chairman of the Board Alex Rios. Alex Rios is the proud owner of Kids’ Kollege Learning Center and works as District Director for State Representative Terry Canales District 40.  Alex Rios is currently Chairman of the Board for the 2017 -2018 Edinburg Chamber of Commerce and has been a member and volunteer since 1998. Throughout the years with the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce, he has served as Vice-Chair of Special Events, Vice-Chair for the Ambassadors, Vice-Chair for Leadership Edinburg Program, and Director of the Board. With the help of the committee, Alex has helped events like Fiesta Edinburg and Texas Cook ‘Em: High Steaks in Edinburg, become the festivals to attend in the Rio Grande Valley.

The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce would also like to recognize the 2017 Ambassador of the Year Pat Barrientos (Edinburg Executive Center); 2017 Leadership Award Recipient Martin Martinez (City of Edinburg Parks and Recreation Department) and the 2017 Edinburg Fireman of the Year Gabriel Espinoza Jr. For more information on the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet, please contact the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce at 956-383-4974.