WESLACO, RGV – In mid-July, the Economic Development Corporation of Weslaco announced Ci Logistics will expand its company, creating 72 new jobs for the city.
Ci Logistics (CiL) is a major import-export logistic service company focusing largely on the cotton industry in the United States and Mexico. CiL plans on expanding the facility by 210,000 square feet of logistics and distributive space, making the Weslaco location the new headquarters for the company at 560,000 square feet.
In an interview with the Rio Grande Guardian, the owner and CEO of CiL, Joaquin Spamer, said with the help of the city of Weslaco, the expansion of the company would make cotton distribution operations better.
“That is the location that we think is the best for our cotton operations,” Spamer said. “Also, we have a great relationship with the city, the mayor, the city manager, and Marie McDermott. Very helpful through the years. We have been doing business in Weslaco for over 16 years now. We have two very important properties in Weslaco and this will become the third one.”
Marie McDermott is executive director of the Economic Development Corporation of Weslaco.
When asked if the new developments at CiL were occurring because of a growth in the cotton industry, Spamer said the company’s expansion were more to do with managing resources better.
“No, no actually the cotton business is quite steady,” Spamer said. “It’s very stable and it is not because we are growing. It’s because we are better allocating our resources. That’s the reason we are building this 210,000 square feet (facility) in Weslaco.”
Spamer said his company will be moving its operation from Mission to Weslaco after the expansion, moving CiL closer to the Rio Grande Valley’s cotton growing areas and the Pharr and Progreso bridges that are used for import-export operations.
“Weslaco has been a central location in the Valley that has a proven to be a great location for logistics purposes,” Spamer said. “It’s a great location for import-export businesses like ours. The city officials have been very helpful.”
McDermott said there were several new expansion projects in the city, including CiL providing stable new jobs in the cotton industry.
“I think that markets changed in the cotton industry and he’s (Joaquin Spamer) trying to take advantage of the market industry,” McDermott said. “He has several employees here, 11 employees and he’s going to employ 72 other new employees, and he’s going to move the cotton to Mexico. He just opened a facility in Alamo and also one in Raymondville too. He’s going to move the cotton to the Valley then across the border into Mexico.”
Weslaco is also expanding Mid-Valley Airport, adding 40 T-hangars and bringing in more businesses in that industry. McDermott says the development will lead to more planes and avionic activity generally.
“It’s a general aviation airport,” McDermott said. “They want to do increase trade for Mexico to business people that are coming to the Valley for their local business. They could land in the airport, go through customs there, and they could do business here, go to the island, ‘regionalism,’ go to the island and come back here, go shopping and go home.”
The city will also be home to the UTRGV Center of Innovation and Commercialization, which will promote entrepreneurship and economic growth in the region. McDermott says this new facility will be a space for people to think of innovative ideas.
“It’s about 15,000 square foot of facility and they want to create a space for people who think,” McDermott said. “And people who think will come in and try out ideas and one of the pieces of the commercial and innovation center will be a maker’s space. They have 3D printers and the other innovative commercialization to make things.”
Weslaco was also able to dodge the mostly Valley-wide decline in sales tax revenues over the last few months. McDermott said it’s important to have a diversity of revenues for the city, and to continue developing partnerships with Mexico.
“It’s extremely important just like home based economy, you diversify your investments,” McDermott said. “Weslaco has the downtown development and quality of life of events. We’re trying to do that piece of the puzzle and also work with the airport, do the transportation and also logistics and manufacturing and retail. Above all, I can’t (stress this enough): we want to deal with Mexico. We want to deal with Mexico because they’re right next to Progreso Bridge and the Progreso Bridge is very keen to do business. We have relationships with the state of Tamaulipas and also with economic development in Rio Bravo. We’re trying to pursue that.”
LIVE: Learning about the big projects coming to the Mid-Valley. A conversation with Marie McDermott, executive director of Weslaco Economic Development Corporation.
Posted by Rio Grande Guardian on Thursday, July 20, 2017