October 14, 2013

Urban Outfitters pic 

Message from the Chief Executive Officer

While in Philadelphia last week, I had the pleasure of visiting with several top corporate executives from different companies and learning more about their businesses. It was really enlightening to me to see a change in corporate culture now versus even twenty years ago.

The bottom line was the most important consideration when making decisions while I worked at a large oil and gas company in the early 90s.   The financial bottom line that is.   I’m not sure that particular industry has change much, but maybe because of disasters such as the BP debacle, change is coming.

In his book, Business With Soul, Michael Cardone, Jr. talks about how his company Cardone Industries (yes, the one with a presence here in Harlingen) has been able to succeed. The corporate culture that exists there is, as he says, based on the greatest leader the world has ever known. They don’t just talk it, they live it. I’ve seen it and agree that Servant Leadership can make a difference.

In visiting Urban Outfitters corporate headquarters, I saw a similar culture that is based on giving and serving others. One of Urban Outfitter’s senior officers talked about empowering the employees to participate in decisions on how to layout offices, conference rooms, who to donate time, space or money to, and more. They even allow their employees to bring their dogs to work with them. Yep, that’s a bulldog enjoying his break time in the picture above.

In both these cases, corporate leaders have created a sense of family among the workforce. The results of this type of leadership include loyalty, efficiency, more productive workers, high morale, and at the end of the day, a successful business. The bottom line isn’t just a measurement of ROI or IRR, although that is important, but rather the intangibles listed above as well.

In his book about the fight in Afghanistan, War, Sebastian Junger writes about the brotherly love that is formed by the young men fighting the Taliban in the Korengal Valley. He describes how these men would be willing to give their lives for their buddy and how some did. That “corporate culture” isn’t taught in boot camp. It happens over time. The culture I saw this week isn’t taught in leadership seminars either.

HEDC has a responsibility to promote our community by talking to others about our assets. We sometimes provide incentives to companies who expand, relocate or create new business here. We could say that we do it to gain more tax revenue in the future to provide more services for our citizens, but looking at the financial impacts would be just as if corporations did nothing but look at the financial bottom line.

It’s more than that for me. It’s more than that for my board. It’s more than that for our mayor and city commissioners. I know. I’ve seen it.

The deals that the general public doesn’t hear about are usually the ones that hurt the most. Those are the ones where we could have provided someone here with a chance to improve their life, to provide for their family, to do something more for their community.   But for some reason, such as the facility wasn’t big enough, or timing wasn’t right, or something else out of our control, the deal wasn’t consummated.

So with that I just wanted to share a bit of our corporate culture. Why do we do what we do? We do it because we have too many people suffering through life that don’t want to. We do what we do because we have a population that sometimes just needs a chance, or a push to do something great for their families. We do what we do because we have so much talent here and not enough opportunities. Also, we do this because to do otherwise would be doing the wrong thing, and that just isn’t on our culture.

On behalf of the community of Harlingen, I’d like to thank K1, GZ, SD, and the other friends I visited or made this week for their hospitality and for sharing so much of their time for us.

In Other News:

Over the last several weeks, Ramiro Aleman and I have visited with several existing companies as part of our business retention program, including Cardone Industries and FedEx Freight. Leaders from those organizations shared their thoughts on their markets, future growth, concerns, and other valuable insight into their businesses.

Lyle Garza met with the owners/developers of the Residence Inn by Marriott which is under construction adjacent to Bass Pro Shops. The new hotel will be the “Generation 9.0 Beacon Prototype Hotel” which has some great new features for business and leisure travelers.

Staff also continues to work on scheduling appointments with retailers, brokers and developers who will be attending the ICSC Texas Dealmaking and Conference in Dallas next month. We continue to respond to a good number of industrial inquiries as well. Interest in locating in Harlingen continues to outpace last year, which is reflective of a great market for companies to expand and “Come Home to Harlingen!”

Have a great week, and keep working on developing a corporate culture which focuses on helping people. I know we will!

  • Upcoming Events
  • October 24, 2013 – AEP’s Economic Development Forum in Weslaco at Knapp Memorial Hospital’s conference center.  Register here or click to find out more.


  • November 7-8, 2013 – International Council of Shopping Center’s Texas Dealmaking & Conference in Dallas

If you have any other events that you’d like for us to post on this newsletter, send us anemail with some information!

News from around the Harlingen area and beyond

Not Your Father’s Mexico…

Texas elected officials supporting A&M-Corpus Christi drone plan

Most Texans support spending $2B on water infrastructure

Canal Expansion Good News for US – Kind Of

.UT advisory committee in search of new president

Manufacturing Building Available for Lease 

ProLogis bldg

Valley Industrial Park Building 1

1805 North Loop 499, Suite 110

Harlingen, TX 78550

72,000 Total SF available

24′ minimum clear height

and much more.  Call the Harlingen EDC office for more information at 216-5081.