MCALLEN, Texas – Medical personnel brought into the Rio Grande Valley to help care for the summer’s surge in COVID-19 cases has effectively saved the local hotel industry.

This is the view of Steve Ahlenius, president of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. 

In the Chamber’s monthly report to the McAllen Economic Development Corporation, Ahlenius said:

“With the medical personnel that has been in the city since July, our occupancy rate for August was at 85 percent. We have not seen that type of occupancy rate for the city probably for ten or 12 years. So, that has had a huge impact with the hotels for July and August.”

The chamber president noted, however, that some of those medical professionals are beginning to leave the region.

“Now, obviously, the medical personnel are beginning the process of leaving the community but that infusion of folks for July and August has basically saved a lot of the hotels for the remainder of the fiscal year. So, they are pleased,” Ahlenius said.

“Moving forward, obviously, if we start seeing business travel coming back, tourism coming back, then we will start seeing a change in terms of of the hotel occupancy. But, it was a relief for a lot of folks, the last two months.”

Ahlenius started his report by discussing the grants that have been given out to local businesses, to help them survive a downturn in economic activity caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are wrapping up the grant program for small businesses. We have basically done almost 300 small grants through a partnership between the city and the chamber – $1.5 million,” Ahlenius said.

“We have got about 47 businesses that qualified yet we ran out of the money. And so, if there is any money that becomes available they would be qualified for the grants, if additional monies are made available.”

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows Steve Ahlenius, president of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce.

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