August 9, 2013

Message from the Chief Executive Officer

As most of our regular readers know, I typically start our newsletter with a small anecdote about something going on with my family and tie that story to economic development in general and sometimes to economic development in our community.  This week, however, I won’t be writing about my kids.  I’d like to say a few words about two kids who are fighters and who continue to amaze many by the progress that they are making. Tragedy struck in Mercedes to both the Garza and Ramirez families when a young man and young lady were involved in a roll-over accident this past Tuesday.  I have the distinct honor of calling Isaiah Garza’s parents my friends.  My wife, Liza, is one of Roxanne Garza’s closest childhood friends.  Liza has also known Rick for a long time.  I met them when I first started dating Liza over eight years ago.  From day one, they impressed me as loving parents and partners.  Isaiah is one of those all-around “good” kids.   Knowing his parents, one can see why he is the kind of young strong man he is.  Lisa Ramirez is also one of those “good” kids that has her head on straight.

    Isaiah and Lisa
 Both kids are in intensive care at Valley Baptist Medical Center here in Harlingen.  The staff and physicians at Valley Baptist have been doing a great job and I know both families appreciate all that VBMC has done thus far.

Isaiah and Lisa continue to heal and amaze physicians, family, and friends by the progress they have made.  Thanks go out to all their supporters and well-wishers.  In talking with Rick, I know that the outpouring of support by so many people has helped their families remain strong throughout this healing time for Isaiah and Lisa.  I hope that as time goes by, people continue to give them hope as they have done in the past few days.  It’s really special to see how prayer and the support given to these families make a difference.


July’s sales tax receipts for the City of Harlingen grew by almost 10% over the same period last year.  Year-to-date figures show an increase of 4.6% over last year.  These statistics reinforce what we’ve known for quite some time:  Harlingen is a retail hub for the mid-Valley.  With the addition of Sam’s Wholesale Club, Burlington Coat Factory and some other yet-to-be released national retail chains coming in the near future, the city’s sales tax receipts should continue to rise at rates above most of the other Valley communities.  It’s important to note that other established retail chains are also in growth mode here in Harlingen.  HEB is remodeling several stores and expanding its footprint in the community.  We’ve also seen local companies increase spending locally, thus helping boost our sales tax figures.


 AEP has joined with McCallum Sweeney Consulting, a nationally-renowned economic development consulting firm, to identify industrial sites that may qualify to be designated as certified “shovel-ready” sites. Earning the certification from McCallum Sweeney is a huge accomplishment that will help communities promote sites to industrial users.  Harlingen EDC’s Ramiro Aleman has been working diligently this week to submit several sites within Harlingen’s Air Park as shovel-ready. A shovel-ready site is one where all entitlements are present.  In this case, entitlements mean that the site is zoned for industrial use, has all necessary infrastructure including water, sanitary sewer, drainage, telecommunications, natural gas, electricity and more to the site.  There is also a size requirement.  We have sites in Harlingen which we believe have the qualifications to be certified as shovel-ready.

We also have sites that are too small for certification, but nonetheless meet all the other requirements to be considered shovel-ready within Harlingen Industrial Park.  HEDC will continue to promote the Valley International Airport’s 450 available acres and the Harlingen Industrial Foundation’s 80 available acres to industrial prospects and look forward to working towards certification of these sites.


 Harlingen’s hospitality sector is continuing its strong expansion with the almost completed Candlewood Suites.  In addition, Residence Inn by Marriott broke ground this week at its site adjacent to Bass Pro Shop.   In addition to these two hotel developments, there are several other prospects considering other hotel projects in Harlingen.  This is another example of how Harlingen continues to grow!


 Based on numbers compiled by the Valley Partnership as of June 2013, Harlingen continues to lead the Rio Grande Valley in the value of commercial building activity with $70,451,188.69 worth of commercial construction!  Although residential permits are slightly above last year’s year-to-date numbers, we feel that trend will change for the better in the near future.  Here’s where we stand on commercial permits through June 2013:

1.       Harlingen             $70,451,189

2.       Mission               $61,139,200

3.       Pharr                   $52,366,449

4.       McAllen               $44,388,046

5.       Brownsville           $36,150,551

6.       San Juan             $24,280,576

7.       Edinburg              $19,473,837

Harlingen’s $70 million in permits represents about 20% of the Valley’s year-to-date total of $344,384,014!


HEDC staff continues to work on the budget for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2014.  With so much going on, balancing the budget is a difficult task to say the least.  I’ve mentioned in the past that requests for funding from the economic development sales tax exceed revenues.  In of itself, this shows that there is a strong environment for continued growth. It also tells us that we have to be cognizant of our budgetary constraints and thus very selective in how funds are distributed and who receives funds.   Companies promising to create large number of jobs with higher-paying wages will be the ones considered for future incentives.  That was the intent of 4a economic development sales tax, and that is how it should be:  create the largest impact with as little a package as possible.  That concept may not be popular with some, but it really has served Texas communities well, and Harlingen should be no different.

Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to say a few prayers for Isaiah and Lisa!

  • Upcoming Events
  • Harlingen EDC Board of Directors Workshop/Meeting – August 20, 2013 at The Courtyard by Marriot starting at 12 PM (Noon)


  • Intersection 2013/GATS Trade Show, August 22-24, 2013 in Dallas, TX


  • Harlingen EDC Board of Directors Regular Monthly Meeting – August 27, 2013 at Harlingen City Hall starting at 5:30 PM

News from around the Harlingen area and beyond

Valley would rank 5th largest metro area in Texas if it were in single MSA

U.S. retailers enjoy solid sales in July, ICSC reports 

If your business plan isn’t working, change it

How Top CEOs Handle Their Email

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.