|EDINBURG, May 5 - Edinburg and Mission are among the Rio Grande Valley cities to show increased building permit activity in the first quarter of 2014, according to the Valley Construction Report.
The report is issued by the Rio Grande Valley Partnership, the Valley’s regional chamber of commerce.
Edinburg’s residential and commercial building permits combined were worth almost $32.3 million during the first four months of this year. This compares to under $28 million in 2013. Mission’s residential and commercial building permits combined were worth almost $17 million during the first four months of this year. This compares to under $9.3 million in 2013.
“Some sectors of the the Rio Grande Valley economy such as retail sales and construction are showing great signs of bouncing back to pre-recession levels in both Hidalgo and Cameron counties,” said Julian Alvarez, president and CEO of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership.
“Cities like Mission and Edinburg are at the forefront of that wave and you can see that with subdivisions and commercial construction going up in certain corridors. That's a testament to the leadership in those cities and their economic development corporations.”
The year-on-year value of commercial and residential permits combined during the first quarter was down in the cities of Brownsville, Harlingen, Pharr and McAllen, according to the RGVP report. Brownsville’s dropped from $49.7 million to $26.3 million. Harlingen’s dropped from $50.2 million to $10.8 million. Pharr’s dropped from $30.1 million to $28.9 million. And, McAllen’s dropped from $40.3 million to $31.8 million.
Other cities to see a year-on-year decline in the first quarter for commercial and residential permit values include Alamo, Hidalgo, Los Fresnos, Mercedes, Palm Valley, Rancho Viejo, Rio Grande City, San Juan and Weslaco.
Valley cities that saw a year-on-year increase in the first quarter for commercial and residential permit valuations combined include Donna, Raymondville, Roma, San Benito and South Padre Island.
Year-on-year contrasts for Elsa, La Feria, La Joya, Palmhurst, Palmview and Progreso were not available at press time.
Overall across the Valley, residential building permits showed a slight increase in the first quarter of 2014, as compared to the same period in 2013. The 2014 figure is $78.9 million. The 2013 figure was $78.1 million.
However, the overall figure for commercial building permits in the first quarter across the Valley show a big drop in 2014. The 2014 figure is $167.9 million. The 2013 figure was $230.7 million.
Both the city of Edinburg and the Mission EDC issued news releases to announce their permit activity.
Residential and commercial construction nearly doubled in Mission for the first quarter of this year over 2013, wrote Mission EDC President Alex Meade. The vast improvement in overall construction year over year (about 80 percent) led the Rio Grande Valley’s major cities in percentage growth increase, he said. Combined residential and commercial construction in Mission in the first quarter is $16.94 million compared to $9.37 million over the same time period in 2013.
In March alone, Meade said, builders pulled $3.74 million worth of residential construction permits in Mission and bested March 2013 by $1.37 million increasing about 57 percent. On the commercial end, he said, $1.96 million in permits were issued in March 2014; a huge increase from only $193,000 the same month the year before.
“Mission has many elements that are supporting the growth in the city, but its biggest contributing factor is the strong communication that exists between the various departments in the City of Mission and Mission EDC,” Meade said. “We strive to offer the best customer service and a business climate that is second to none.”
Meade said the positive construction numbers come in the wake of strong retail sales and employment news for the city. The Texas Workforce Commission reported Mission’s April unemployment rate at 6.8 percent, the lowest jobless rate for an April since 2009.The state agency also showed that April had 30,001 people employed in Mission, Meade said.
With regard to retail, Mission’s sales tax allocations for 2014’s first quarter were up 4.2 percent over the same period last year, and are the highest to start a year since the state comptroller’s office began measuring decades ago, Meade said.
Edinburg leaders, meanwhile, point out more and more people are choosing their city to live and start a business. As evidence they cite the RGVP report. Edinburg Mayor Richard H. Garcia attributes the increase to land availability and a thriving business atmosphere. “Additionally the success of established businesses continues to draw in more entrepreneurs,” he said.
The City’s April 2014 Building Permit Report also shows a continued upward climb with total construction activity at $38 million compared to $29.6 million last year to date, the Edinburg news release states. Mayor Garcia said he expects the increased activity to continue as the development of UTRGV unfolds and as the construction of the businesses along Interstate 69 Central begin to take shape.