BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A German manufacturing company interested in having a presence in the United States visited Brownsville a week after meeting with some of the city’s top economic development leaders at a conference near Washington, D.C.
Ramiro Aleman is director of business recruitment, retention and expansion for the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation. He met with the German company at the SelectUSA Investment Summit, which took place June 26-29 at National Harbor, a waterfront resort on the Potomac River, Maryland, just south of Washington.
SelectUSA is a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce that seeks to bring foreign direct investment to the United States. It holds its big annual trade show near Washington every June.
“According to SelectUSA there were over 1,300 people at the event and over 70 countries represented. It was a well-attended event, the first in-person since Covid. It did go very well for us. We had a chance to meet with folks that came to our spin-off and we continued the conversation in D.C,” Aleman said.
The spinoff event took place at the Brownsville Events Center a week before the investment summit. The focus of the Brownsville event was the aerospace and energy industries.
Speaking about the event near Washington, Aleman said: “We had companies from Europe that wanted to know more about Brownsville. I had the good fortune of talking to them. As a matter of fact, the very next week after SelectUSA, a German manufacturing company was in Brownsville. That is how much impact the conference had. We met at SelectUSA.”
Asked for more information abbot the German company, Aleman said: “I told them everything about the great advantages and the opportunities that we have in Brownsville and the very next week they were in town. We gave them a tour, showing them all the opportunities and they left very happy. We are continuing that conversation.”
Aleman then referenced another European company GBIC met thanks to SelectUSA.
“Another European company we met over there, they actually work with companies over here, so they are customers of a local company over here and they want to come and look at the opportunities and see what they can do here. To see what type of investments they can make here. Being customers of a company that is already here, they think there is going to be some synergy there.”
Aleman said he also met with a company from Spain that had wanted to be part of the Brownsville spinoff event.
“The company was not able to make it here for whatever reason. They were registered for our spinoff but they were not able to make it. So, I was able to meet with them in D.C. We spoke and it turns out that company is actually a site consultancy firm that represents several companies in Europe. And so now we are working together to bring a conglomerate of companies to Brownsville. There are a lot of opportunities here. Foreign companies see that and they are ready to come to Brownsville and see what the opportunities are.”
Aleman said there are actually two companies from Spain that are looking at investing in Brownsville, along with a company from South America. “There is just a lot of interest, a lot of activity in Brownsville.”
This reporter asked Aleman, Why Brownsville? He responded:
“Everybody knows the big company in town, SpaceX. That gives us a lot of attention. A lot of companies are looking at Brownsville now because of SpaceX.
They think, ‘Elon Musk has invested here. I need to see why I might need to invest here too.’ However, we believe in being protective. We are not sitting back and waiting for the phone to ring. We are out there and we are promoting ourselves. That means going to D.C. and promoting ourselves.”
Aleman said there are more advantages than just being close to SpaceX.
“That is obviously a big reason but once they know the other obvious advantages here, the port, the rail system, the labor market in Mexico, the supply chain that is already built in Mexico, they are excited and they want to come and visit. They want to see what type of investment opportunities there are.”
Aleman represented GBIC on his own at the SelectUSA conference. He did have a booth to man but was allowed to work from the booth run by the State of Texas.
“We were not officially part of that but we have had good relations with the state’s economic development arm over the years. Texans stick together. I even got some leads from some of the folks at the booth. They gave them to me even though I was not technically part of the group.”
Asked why GBIC has forged such close relations with SelectUSA over the years, Aleman said:
“SelectUSA essentially does for the United States what GBIC does for Brownsville. Our mission is similar. So, we thought we definitely need to partner up with this group. And we do partner with them. We are pleased they have shown interest in the opportunities we have here. They are more than happy to partner with us, for example, selecting us for a spinoff event. Even at the show in D.C. they were throwing leads at us. They would tell me, ‘this company wants to meet with you, they hear great things about Brownsville. This is the constant information, go meet with them.’ I was able to talk to a couple of folks that way. So, yes, SelectUSA is a great organization. We value our relationship with them and we are going to continue to foster that relationship in the future.”
So, when he meets with these foreign companies, how many know where Brownsville is, Aleman was asked.
“The majority of them do know where Brownsville is because most everybody knows where Elon Musk is launching his Starship from. But, a few of them do not but when we get to talk to them they are definitely interested,” Aleman said.
“The world is learning about the opportunities that exist in Brownsville and we are here to help them and create good paying jobs for the citizens of not only Brownsville but the whole South Texas and northeastern Mexico region. We see ourselves at the anchor for the whole region.”
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