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PHARR, RGV – The Pharr EDC is part of the City of Pharr, which is situated in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley, where international trade, construction, and retail development continue to transform the region.

The Board of Directors of the Pharr Economic Development Corporation drives economic prosperity for the City of Pharr; it is a diverse and vibrant community that offers an abundance of opportunities for its residents and the region.

Pharr’s leadership is proud that its construction development grew to $97 million in 2015, which is a significant increase over its construction development of $71 million in 2014. Pharr’s annual retail sales growth increased by 11.60 percent from 2014 to 2015 – a leader in the Rio Grande Valley. Pharr’s leaders realize that retail sales in the region are expected to reach $15 billion in the next 15 years; that is why they are cultivating relationships with national and international investors.

Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez
Pharr Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez

“We’ve implemented a business friendly environment in the City of Pharr to help businesses succeed,” said Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez, M.D., who is also the Chairman of the Pharr Economic Development Corporation. “A priority for my colleagues at the Pharr EDC is that our municipal departments work as a team and as fast as the business industry,” said Mayor Hernandez.

International trade is a major component to the City of Pharr, which manages and operates the Pharr International Bridge. The Pharr International Bridge has seen record-breaking growth, facilitating over $30 billion in annual global trade. It is the leading port of entry in the United States for fresh produce and the 6th largest port of entry in all of the U.S.

Since the Pharr International Bridge accounts for 60 percent of all fresh produce that crosses from Mexico into the U.S., the City of Pharr has seen an in- crease in the demand for cold storage warehouse facilities. There are approximately 25 cold storage facilities in Pharr, with additional growth expected in the second quarter of 2016 in its 100-acre Pharr Trade District Park.

The Pharr EDC recently facilitated the construction of Phase 1 of the Pharr Bridge Business Park, which will be a new 30-acre industrial park with over 300,000 square feet of Class “A” planned facilities – an investment of $46 million. This premiere development is located along the overweight corridor and less than 1.5 miles from the Pharr International Bridge. The development offers flexible multi-tenant and build-to-suit layouts with on-site trailer staging for distribution, warehousing, and light assembly users.

Recently, the City also broke ground on a new state highway project that is intended to better prepare the Rio Grande Valley for commercial trade. “This is a very important project for our city, the region, and our nation,” said Mayor Hernandez. “This corridor will facilitate the flow of commerce coming in from Mexico, which is Texas’ number one trading partner.”

The City’s leadership is also committed to making Pharr an even better community for residents. In 2015, Pharr commissioners approved an ordinance adopting a property tax rate of $0.654, which is a $0.026 decrease from the previous year. This action stems from a pledge made by Mayor Hernandez to responsibly ease the financial burden on property owners by decreasing the property tax rate.

“I am excited to be a part of this administration that has made history,” said Mayor Hernandez. “This is the largest property tax reduction that our citizens have seen in 14 years, and demonstrates our commitment to the citizens of Pharr that we are making responsible decisions with their best interest in mind.”

Improving the educational system is also a priority in the City of Pharr. “Pharr is engaging with its education partners, which are a key component of our City,” said Sergio Contreras, Executive Director of the Pharr EDC. “We are working closely with our educational partners to ensure that our students are prepared for higher educational opportunities and ultimately have an educated workforce.”

In an agreement with the City of Pharr and PSJA ISD, South Texas College is set to build a Regional Center for Public Safety and Excellence in Pharr. This new center will allow South Texas College to increase the number of public safety and law enforcement instructional programs offered in the region. The facility development costs are anticipated to be approximately $9 million for phase one. Ultimately, the Center will add over $9 million in annual economic activity and create more than 100 additional jobs once all three phases are complete.

“Fostering economic development and improving the quality of life for residents will continue to be a priority among our leadership,” said Contreras. Pharr’s leaders are doing their part to attract and retain businesses in the community by creating a business friendly environment for growth in economic development opportunities and sustaining an educated workforce. They look forward to continued prosperity for its residents and the region in 2016.

Editor’s Note: The above feature, written by freelance writer Melissa Wood Reed, was first published in Business Adviser magazine. It has been republished here with the permission of Business Adviser’s President and CEO, Andrew Yoo. The magazine’s website address is http://businessadviser.co/.