Message from the Chief Executive Officer
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a trade show in Anaheim, California on behalf of the Rio South Texas Economic Council, and of course, Harlingen. During the three days in Anaheim, I spoke with a variety of people who work in a variety of industries. Unbeknownst to many here locally, Harlingen and many of the other economic development corporations and related entities have spent a lot of time identifying specific industries that are a good fit for our region. Those industries include automotive manufacturing and suppliers; aerospace, metal products, electronics manufacturing and assembly, medical devices, and renewable energy products.
The show I participated in hit on most of these industries in one way or another. It was actually seven events in one location. West Pack brings together companies in the packing industry. Electronics West, well, you guessed it, focuses on electronics. Automation Technology Expo focused on advanced manufacturing and the machinery used to develop products. Pacific Design & Manufacturing also focused on advanced manufacturing, but leaned towards processes rather than equipment. Aerocon brought companies in the aerospace industry together, while MD&M (medical device and manufacturing) was more about suppliers and manufacturers in the medical device industry. The final event was Sustainability in Manufacturing, which brought many suppliers dealing in energy-saving components, software, materials and design to improve manufacturing processes.
Many of the attendees at the show were sales representatives from companies seeking to do business with larger manufacturing concerns. A good portion of the people I spoke to were executives in top management or ownership roles. Governor Rick Perry made a buzz during the week, as many of you may have read, by launching a small media campaign aimed at luring California-based companies to Texas. Being one of the few booths from Texas, we received a good amount of attention during the show. The task at hand is to follow up on all the leads we received and hope that they turn into deals in the future.
Three days of visiting with companies along with travel back and forth from California ate up the entire week. I consider the show a success already because I did make some good contacts and we will soon have at least one visit from one company I visited with during that week. There are several other companies that were interested in learning more about Mexico and moving their operations from China, back to North America. We look forward to working with CODEM (Matamoros EDC) to try to develop those contacts into deals for both sides of the border.
One of the challenges we face here in Harlingen has been discussed in a previous newsletter: lack of buildings. Yes, we have some buildings available, but many of the companies I spoke with last week look for existing Class A industrial space in Class A business parks for their needs. We have only one available building with about 40,000 square feet that fits into that category.
Rosa Parks never intended to become a leader or a key figure in the civil rights movement in 1955. She was just tired, and refused to give up her seat in a bus. She once said, “I have learned that in order to bring about change, you must not be afraid to take the first step. We will fail when we fail to try. Each and every one of us can make a difference.” Toby Mac and Michael Tait formerly of DC Talk, a contemporary Christian music group, wrote a book entitled Living Under God. The quote from Rosa Parks came from that book, for those of you looking for me to cite my source.
I sincerely believe that Harlingen is on the brink of tremendous growth, but we have to do things that require courage, innovation, and faith. We can make a difference. Our role, as it relates to economic development and as economic development professionals, board members, community leaders, and business leaders is to make Harlingen a better place where opportunities abound for every citizen. So, I hope you’re ready. I’ve got a few things coming at you!
In case you didn’t catch the page 2 story in the Valley Morning Star earlier this week, Coronado Ventures (Project Waterside) and Harlingen have come to an agreement which will lead to the development of a new 690 megawatt power plant to be constructed just east of the airport, near our industrial area. The investment in the plant will be over $500 million. Some estimates say they will invest over $600 million. The impact on construction jobs will be HUGE! The jobs will also be around for at least two years. More importantly to our efforts in industrial recruitment, we will be able to boast about a more abundant and reliable energy source than what we presently have, giving us a competitive advantage over many other communities.
Staff has been busy with many of the details on some of our ongoing projects and on new projects as well. We are preparing for the roll out of the Catalyst Commercial Retail Market Study, a local broker building tour, and much more.
Thanks go out to Chairman Rick Ledesma and staff members Lyle Garza and Ramiro Aleman for making a presentation to the Leadership Harlingen class last week. Lyle continues to monitor construction at the Reyna/Sam’s site, BPS Boat Storage and more. Ramiro hosted a meeting of the HIFI board this week and has also been working on following up on leads from my trip. More on some of our ongoing activities will be discussed at our next Board meeting which will be held on Tuesday, February 26th at 5:30 PM at City Hall.
I hope you have a great weekend!
News from around the Harlingen area and beyond
Manufacturing Building Available for Lease or Sale
710 N. Commerce Street
+/- 31,000 SF space with offices, air-conditioned warehouse/mftg space, near rail and highways. Call the Harlingen EDC office for more information at 216-5081.