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Harlingen EDC: Harlingen is a prime spot for business in RGV

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HARLINGEN, Texas – Harlingen leaders made their pitch to potential investors during a recent webinar hosted by the Rio Grande Valley Partnership.

The event is part of a series of “virtual tours” the Partnership is conducting during the coronavirus pandemic. When it is safe for people to get together again the RGVP will host them in person. 

Thus far, the tours have included visits to Rio Grande City, Edinburg, McAllen, and now Harlingen. Future visits include the cities of Hidalgo, Pharr, and San Juan. 

During the most recent webinar, Harlingen Mayor Chris Boswell was featured in a video. Boswell said Harlingen’s central location in the Valley, along with excellent connectivity, made it a prime community for investments. 

Harlingen EDC manager and CEO Raudel Garza

Boswell said Harlingen was home to or close to two “aerospace giants.” United Launch Alliance is based in Harlingen, Boswell pointed out, and SpaceX is just 35 minutes away.

“We are making great strides in our continuous efforts to make Harlingen the best place people choose for work, business, education, healthcare, and living,” Boswell said.

A lot of development has recently taken place in Harlingen, Boswell said, pointing to the city’s new convention center and the adjacent Hilton Garden Inn. He noted that the previously run down Baxter Lofts have been converted for housing use, and Lon C. Hill Park is currently being revamped as a destination for recreation.

Boswell also noted that Harlingen is “an important healthcare hub.” And he described Harlingen as “the greatest city we know in South Texas.”

Raudel Garza, manager and CEO of Harlingen Economic Development Corporation, also made a pitch to investors via video. He said his group has been working really hard to promote the city of Harlingen. 

“One of the reasons we are doing this video, and this webinar is to really get investors to understand a little bit about the opportunities that are here in Harlingen. We have a lot of land, some of it is owned by the Harlingen EDC. We want to promote that property, but there are other proprieties we promote as well. We have many years of experience in economic development,” Garza said.

Garza said new businesses are locating in Harlingen in part because it is in the center of the Valley. 

“People can get to us fairly quickly. It is going to continue to be that way. As our infrastructure improves, as transportation networks improve, that is going to make Harlingen even more (a) focal (point) for everybody,” Garza said.

“We have a great airport, we have a Port of Harlingen that can help with the larger transportation needs, we are working on attracting automotive parts manufacturers, metal fabricators. We are working with electronics companies and electronic industries, we are working with bio-tech companies, trying to bring them into Harlingen. And we are working with other healthcare providers. We continue to work also on green energy, so wind farms and solar farms, and those kind of industries are really attracted to our area.”

German Rico, industrial development manager for Harlingen EDC.

German Rico is industrial development manager for Harlingen EDC. In his video presentation, Rico pointed out that Harlingen has two 65-acre industrial parks and a 480 acre certified site known as the Aerotropolis that is located adjacent to Valley International Airport. 

“Both parks are within easy access to the Free Trade International Bridge at Los Indios in the overweight corridor, allowing for cargo to transport up to 120,000 pounds. In addition to both our industrial parks, the Aerotropolis is certified as shovel-ready.”

Rico said Harlingen EDC currently has more than ten customers located at the Harlingen Industrial Park. These manufacturers and distribution companies include Penske, Emerson, Cardone. Nearby is United Launch Alliance.

“Harlingen is centrally located in the Rio Grande Valley and because of this companies rely on the fact that they are within 15 minutes of the Free Trade International Bridge at Los Indios. A bridge that has one of the fastest crossing regionally going into Mexico. Other improvements have been made to accommodate trucks that are moving large commodities like wind blades that you see at the various wind farms in Cameron County.”

The Port of Harlingen is another asset for the city, Rico explained. He described the shallow water port as “an economic engine” for the Valley. 

“There are more than two million tons of commodities that are transported through our port. In a sense you can say that the Port of Harlingen literally keeps the Rio Grande Valley running because if provides most of the fuel consumed in this area. The port sits on 2,000 acres and is the second largest port in Cameron County.”

In his video, Rico also highlighted Valley International Airport, noting that it has the longest runway in the Valley. 

“The Federal Aviation Administration ranked the Valley International Airport the 71st in the nation for cargo airports. Meaning it is the 71st busiest in the nation and moved 366 million pounds of cargo in 2018, making us the ninth busiest airport in cargo shipments in Texas.”

Rico added: “New and sustained developments and investments in transportation infrastructure, the connectivity provided via roads, air, water and rail makes Harlingen, Texas, a prime spot for business.”

Editor’s Note: The above news story is the third in a three-part series based on a webinar the Rio Grande Valley Partnership hosted recently with Harlingen Economic Development Corporation. Part One featured future development of Valle Vista Mall in Harlingen. Click here to read it. Part Two featured the economic impact of the healthcare industry on the Rio Grande Valley in general and Harlingen in particular. Click here to read it.

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