|McALLEN, September 4 - Mexico’s next major thoroughfare will not only be a road or connection. It will be a significant economic development corridor that may change the face of trade between the two countries.
The payoff is going to be how well all entities involved can work together to do that, according to economic development experts in the Rio Grande Valley, who say they are now extremely preoccupied, trying to gauge all the trade and commerce opportunities that may arise when Mexico’s new super highway opens later this year.
The municipality of Mazatlán, in Sinaloa, sent a delegation to the Rio Grande Valley to visit with potential partners, and to expand commercial ties between them and the Valley. The delegation consisted of Eric Reynoso Uribe and Sergio Romero Barrera. San Benito Economic Development Corporation, Harlingen Economic Development Corporation, Pharr International Bridge Board, and McAllen chamber and economic development officials, along with the Port of Brownsville were invited to discuss opportunities for further collaboration among all the entities involved.
The conclusion? Officials on both sides of the border can agree with McAllen EDC executive director Keith Patridge who put it succinctly: “It’s going to be a big damn deal.”
“There is ample opportunity for commercial and industrial investments in this area coming from Mazatlán, not just agricultural related, but other industries that are looking to grow,” said San Benito EDC executive director Salomon Torres. “The key is, that the expansion of the new road between Mazatlán and Matamoros is going to entice current Mazatlan investors to look east instead of north, north being Nogales, Arizona, which is an 18 hour drive for commercial vehicles. This will be ten.
“It means savings in terms of time, and savings in terms of cost for commercial traffic,” Torres said, referring to Mexico’s $3 billion Corredor Económico del Norte highway, which is slated to open later this year.
The engineering marvel will encompass over 60 tunnels and 60 bridges to connect what is considered the breadbasket of Mexico, the Sinaloa-Durango area, to the Rio Grande Valley. As a result, the highway will become the closest connection ever between the Pacific and the Gulf Coast.
“This Mazatlán highway represents a golden opportunity for the region of South Texas to connect with business people in the Mazatlán area,” said Harlingen EDC executive director, Raudel Garza. “We are happy that these two representatives came to town to discuss the project a little bit further and to build relationships with us.
“We look forward to trying to reach out to them and to others in the Mazatlán area in Sinaloa to continue to promote, trade commerce and create new jobs in both region,” Garza said.
Municipalities on the north side of the border apparently are not wasting time jumping on the project. Brownsville, Harlingen and McAllen are already planning a trip during the Mexican Independence Day holiday (Sept 14-16) to set up a sister city agreement with Mazatlán. The City of Pharr already has such an agreement.
Slated to attend that trip are Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez, officials from the Port of Brownsville, Harlingen tourism staff, and leaders from the cities of Pharr and McAllen. Mazatlán leaders want as many mayors or city commissioners from the Valley as possible to attend the sister city agreement.
“I think what is amazing is that it’s a land bridge. It’s the closest connection between the Pacific and the Gulf Coast, and the great thing about the region geographically is that this is the closest point to the Pacific now,” said Port of Brownsville executive director, Eduardo Campirano. “A ten or 12 hour transit is amazing when you think about how much country you are going to cover. There is a lot of excitement about the produce, and obviously that is going to affect the Valley significantly.”
Patridge with McAllen EDC says economic development over the next 50 years is being established today.
“There is huge potential, it’s a game changer for the Valley and a game changer for Mexico because it’s really the first east-west connect into Mexico, and I think everyone recognizes it,” Patridge said.
“What we are seeing is that it’s not just for what we are seeing today, this is development for the next 50 years. We can start building that relationship between the Valley and western Mexico. The opportunity is really unlimited. It’s about what our imagination can come up with, and what we working together can put together. That’s the big thing. There’s enough there for everybody.”