|McALLEN, March 29 - A recent newsletter sent to clients and prospective clients by Mike Blum, partner and managing broker of NAI Rio Grande Valley, caught the eye when its headline asked, What Makes the Valley so GRANDE?
The email listed nine reasons why the Rio Grande Valley is “Grande.” Here they are:
* Close proximity to Mexico - our location puts us at the center of international trade with a consumer base of ten million within a 200-mile radius.
* Buying power of the Rio Grande Valley's Hispanic population is over $10 billion
* Part of the fastest growing MSA in Texas
* Region has lowest cost of living in the nation
* Young, bilingual and skilled workforce
* Region ranks third nationwide to have more jobs than before the recession
* McAllen MSA ranked third among Top Mid-Sized cities in the U.S. for jobs
* Texas-Mexico corridor was named a Top Region to Watch in 2012 for automotive manufacturing revival
* McAllen MSA was ranked as the best housing market in the nation
The Guardian contacted Blum to ask if he could expand on his thoughts. Blum said he was happy to oblige. He said his marketing director, Kerri Funk, and members of the NAI Rio Grande Valley real estate team make every effort to clearly explain why businesses who are not already in the Valley should consider the region in their location considerations. “Whether they are a commercial venture, an industrial operation, or are hospitality enterprise, the Valley is a great place to do business. We just have to enlighten folks,” Blum said.
Blum said that, unfortunately, much of the United States and a good deal of Texas simply does not know where the Valley is and what makes the region truly "Grande."
“Our location is often times viewed in a negative connotation derived from judgment from the national media focusing on news stories about violence, poverty, and high unemployment. People have not been exposed to the big picture,” Blum said. He offered some examples:
* Did you know that our population is greater than the population of nine states including Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, District of Colombia and Wyoming?
* Did you know that in 2011, Rio Grande Valley ports, (Brownsville-Roma) taken as a whole, rank fifth nationally in bi-national trade with $34.5 billion?
* Did you know that many of the national restaurant chains and national retailers such as Dillard’s, Macy’s, JC Penny and Best Buy located here experience record breaking sales continuously?
“For decades the media and many elected officials viewed South Texas as San Antonio and not much if anything is discussed about the Rio Grande Valley,” Blum said. “For those of us that have lived and/or have been doing business here have seen the area grow at a rapid pace through decades and have experienced the positive dynamic of our close proximity to Mexico.”
Blum said this is a dynamic that has been “challenging to convey” to business people not familiar with the Valley. “Most people outside our area do not understand the power and fluidity of the ‘National's’ buying power or even who ‘National's’ really are for that matter. NAI Rio Grande Valley has set out to educate our audience about the place we call the ‘Rio Grande Valley’ and the many advantages of doing business in a bi-national, international metropolitan area,” Blum said.
Blum believes the recent formation of the Rio South Texas Economic Council, with its ‘Two Countries, One Region, Many Choices’ marketing slogan, was a good move. “Rio South Texas Economic Council’s marketing materials showcase the many choices for global business location and generous economic development incentives,” Blum said.
Another positive sign, Blum believes, is the plan to merge the University of Texas at Brownsville and the University of Texas-Pan-American, along with the plan to create a four-year medical school. “This is monumental. It came about because the UT System leadership, the University leadership and the state legislative leadership worked together on a common mission. We all know that education is the great equalizer and merging these two universities and the creating a four year medical school will attract tens of millions of dollars of investment from the Permanent University Fund and enhance educational opportunities Valley-wide for generations,” Blum said.
Another positive development, Blum believes, is the creation of Interstate 69. “This two decade quest is no longer a dream. I-69 shields are going on segments of US 77 and soon on US 83 and 281. This, too, is the result of the Valley coming together for the common good,” Blum said.
Blum concluded his remarks with this: “The NAI Rio Grande Valley ad was created to convey a message to commercial real estate decision-makers that South Texas begins in the Rio Grande Valley; that we ARE "Grande" and WORTH considering for their next site selection.”