March 9, 2013

Message from the Chief Executive Officer

My four-year old son and my three-year old son are both signed up for a Spring soccer league starting in a couple of weeks, so I thought it would be nice to get them ready. A couple of weeks ago, we broke out the soccer balls and cones and I set them up with a cone on each corner of the “field” and two cones at each end representing the goals. I started coaching my sons trying to get them to practice kicking the soccer balls through the goals. Of course they’ll understand how to do that right?

Joseph, the 4-year old who played last year, thought that the cones should be rearranged to represent targets. He proceeded to line up the cones and kick the ball repeatedly at each cone, knocking them down in the process. Not to be outdone, Christian, my 3- year old, decided that kicking soccer balls was for the birds. He picked up the ball and proceeded to throw his soccer ball at the cones, and had a blast doing it. Much to my chagrin, Christian refused to kick the ball. He was having too much fun doing things his way.

After a bit of trying to get them to “practice” my way, I gave up and joined the haphazard fun of knocking cones down anyway the boys wanted to. “If you can’t beat them….”

One of the first things economic development professionals learn in a Basic Economic Development Course is the definition of economic development. Some define economic development as “the creation of wealth”, while others call it “a process of creating wealth”. Both definitions work, as others do, to help formulate a community’s goals and strategies for developing new jobs and private investment opportunities.

Some communities attempt to focus their efforts on the creation of “primary” or basic jobs. These are jobs created in industries such as manufacturing. Other communities focus on “quality of life” efforts such as retail and tourism. Community goals can encompass both quality of life and primary job creation goals as well. The larger the community, the more diverse the goals can be. Strategies are limited by many factors, but one of the most limiting factors can be budgetary constraints.

One can only do so much with what one is given to work with

Contemplating recent Harlingen economic development history, I’ve seen where we have targeted basic industry recruitment and also quality of life enhancements. Given the size of our community and our surrounding market, we have had the opportunity to work on a little bit of each of these types of efforts.

We have had our share of success stories in the recruitment of basic industries. More recently, some of the success stories include companies such as TRP (Tire Recycling & Processing), Cardone Industries, Pentair, ITD, Aloe Labs, Valley International Cold Storage, La Paloma Power Plant, United Healthcare Services, and others.

On the “quality of life” side, Harlingen has attracted companies that will help stop some of the leakages in our economy. These companies include Bass Pro Shop, Sam’s Club, Burlington Coat Factory, Chuck E. Cheese, Kohl’s, Longhorn Steakhouse, Candlewood Suites, and many more retail and hospitality-oriented businesses.

Personally, I think that establishing primary job creators is still the main goal of the 4a corporation.

Given budgetary constraints we have to deal with, you’ll see HEDC look at many different projects in the next few months. However, we can’t fund everything. Some projects, which may have received a big incentive package in the past, won’t get any funding. Others may get a portion of their requested funds granted. Our task is difficult, but in the end, the main goals are still on every board member’s mind: jobs and private investment.

Projects such as Harlingen Corners Shopping Center, Bass Pro Shops/Cameron Crossing, Harlingen Heights (Sam’s Club and more) have been expensive undertakings to say the least. These projects will help in the long run by making our share of the sales tax revenue pie bigger, and thus will eventually help us be more competitive in the attraction of primary jobs.

Much like Christian’s and Joseph’s unorthodox practice session; it may not be textbook, but it gets the job done. The boys are learning teamwork, looking for results, and getting in shape. Harlingen may not be following the basic economic development course to the letter, but we are creating new job opportunities, increasing private investment, and building a stronger community. Having fun, no matter what strategy we use, is the byproduct I enjoy most.

This past week was filled with much of the same type of activities we expect in our office. We responded to numerous requests for information, met with prospective companies, worked on site tours, a developer showcase, met with others seeking to put together a regional small business forum, continued oversight on several construction projects, discussed the UTB/UTPA/med school merger, attended regional meetings with RSTEC and AEM (Associación de Empresarios Mexicanos), dealt with real estate contracts, hosted a meeting of the Harlingen Manufacturers’ Association and much more.

Although Spring Break is upon us, our office will be open all week during normal working hours. Feel free to come by and visit us if we can be of service. I hope you are having a great weekend, and we’ll see you soon!

  • Upcoming Events

  • HEDC Budget Workshop (tenative) is scheduled for March 23, 2013 at HEDC offices


  •  HEDC Board of Directors meeting – March 26, 2013 at 5:30 PM (City Hall)

News from around the Harlingen area and beyond

Maritime administrator tours Brownsville facility

The South Texas Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC)
The South Texas Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC)

Officials head to Capitol for Harlingen Day

Job gains cut unemployment to 7.7 pct., 4-year low

AT&T expands service in Cameron County

Small Firms Plan for Stronger Economy

Mexico’s Central Bank Slashes Rates, Ending Years of Inaction

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.