HARLINGEN, RGV – Retail development in the Rio Grande Valley is the subject of a half-day conference in Harlingen on Thursday, hosted jointly by the International Council of Shopping Centers and Rio South Texas Economic Council.

The event runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the University Center at Texas State Technical College in Harlingen. The entrance fee ranges from $15 for ICSC students to $55 for non-members of RSTEC or ICSC.

Rio South Texas Economic Council has been in operation since 2008 and comprises the leaders from cities and economic development corporations in the four-county Valley area. Its motto is Two Countries, One Region, Many Choices. Thursday’s development conference marks the first public event RSTEC has hosted since it revamped its board of directors, signed a contract for the Rio Grande Valley Partnership to be its fiscal and administrative agent, and moved its offices to the RGVP building in Weslaco. RSTEC’s new chairperson is Melisa Gonzales of Alamo. She replaces Ramiro Garza of Edinburg.

Gonzales was on the program planning committee for Thursday’s event, along with former RSTEC executive director Alma Puente Colleli. Other planning committee members included David Pettit, ICSC Texas P3 Private Chair, of Pettit Consulting; Jessica Herrera, Texas P3 Public Chair, from the City of El Paso; Jason Claunch, ICSC Southern Division P3 Private Chair, of Catalyst Commercial Inc.; Julie Schultz of Catalyst Commercial; Rafael Tapia, interim executive director of Alamo EDC, and Petra Reyna of Petra Reyna and Associates.

Organizers say that those in attendance at the conference will be key industry players including owners and developers, tenants and retailers, architects, real estate consultants, lenders, leasing specialists, public officials, and service companies. In addition to the program and networking opportunities, a catered lunch will be provided on Thursday and a networking reception will follow.

Registration is from 9 to 9:30 a.m. Welcome remarks are from 9:30 to 9:45 a.m. A Community Leader Panel runs from 9:45 to 10:45 a.m. A Regional Retail & Developers Panel runs from 10:45 to 11:45 a.m. and a networking luncheon runs from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“Over the last ten years, the Rio Grande Valley has seen an expansion of commercial endeavors from the establishment of Simon’s Palms Crossing, Rio Grande Premium Outlets, Bass Pro Shops, SpaceX, and most recently the Texas LNG project,” organizers of the conference state, in their program notes.

“This program will showcase the strengths and weaknesses of the Rio Grande Valley when it comes to economic development and growth of the retail sector. This event will bring local economic development leaders, area developers and retailers together to discuss opportunities and issues that impact deal making within the Rio Grande Valley.”

ICSC is a trade association for retail real estate industry. The ICSC P3 Retail program is a forum for the public and private sector to network, share ideas and discuss development issues and mutually desired retail projects.