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HARLINGEN, RGV – A big reason 300-plus new hotel rooms are coming to Harlingen is in anticipation of SpaceX’s eagerly-anticipated rocket launching facility at Boca Chica beach.

That is the view of Raudel Garza, CEO of Harlingen Economic Development Corporation.

Garza appeared on RGG LIVE on Facebook on Monday and discussed new hotels coming to his city. On the way are a Hilton Garden Inn, which is going next to the new $14 million convention center, a Homewood Suites by Hilton, and a Fairfield Inn & Suites.

“When I heard about the hotel developers coming in we visited with them. One of the first things we do is ask them, what is going on, what is driving your decision to locate here in Harlingen?” Garza told the Rio Grande Guardian, following the livestream.

“And, what was a pleasant surprise was, they said really it is SpaceX. The expected demand for rooms for the tourists that will come here to see the launches, and for the crews that are working on the launches.”

Garza said Harlingen’s city and economic development leaders are excited that investors see a link between Harlingen and SpaceX.

“A lot of these hotel guys think that this is the right market for them to be in. It is close to Brownsville, close to the launch site, close to the airport, and so they are looking at locations where they can basically meet the demands that are going to be necessary for the crews that are handling the satellites, the crews that are handling the rocket itself, and even for the spectators for the launches,” Garza said.

In the livestream, Garza said Homewood, Fairfield and Hilton Garden are going to create 300 new hotel rooms in Harlingen. “Then there is some discussion about some future growth, after those three,” Garza said.

During the livestream, Rio Grande Guardian publisher Mark Hanna joked that Garza has a hotline to Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX. Garza said that does not happen but that he does talk to those involved in the Boca Chica project.

“From what we understand, right now they are recharging or charging the soils and getting the site prepared for construction of the launchpad itself. There is a lot of other infrastructure going on right now. Once that is all put together they will be ready to actually handle the rockets that are going to be launched out there,” Garza said, after the livestream.

Asked when the rockets might be launched into space, Garza said: “They tell us that within the next year or so. We are looking forward to that happening and for other construction crews to start building the vertical facilities that are necessary to support the launches and then the launches itself.”

The livestream conversation also covered Harlingen leading the Rio Grande Valley in the percent of sales tax revenue growth in 2017, retail development in the city, the importance of Valley International Airport, workforce development, the expansion of Cardone Industries, and marketing Los Indios Free Trade Bridge.

In today’s RGG LIVE we are thrilled to catch up with Raudel Garza, CEO of Harlingen Economic Development Corporation.

Posted by Rio Grande Guardian on Monday, January 8, 2018

Cardone Industries

After the discussion, Garza elaborated on the expansion of Cardone Industries.

“Cardone Industries, as we know, has been here in the Valley and here in Matamoros for about 11 years. They have continued to grow their business. They have continued to acquire new companies that will add to their product mix and they have brought in a great caliper line into Matamoros, where they moved about 1,300 jobs from Philadelphia to Matamoros,” Garza said.

“Along with that came a demand for more warehouse space, here, close by. And so, to support those manufacturing facilities, Cardone decided to build about a 900,000 square-foot distribution center. “

Garza pointed out that 900,000 square-feet of warehouse space is not a common size.

“You hear of 100,000 or 150,000 square foot facilities, but 900,000 is a very big building. It covers about 20 acres under one roof. It sits on about 65 acres of land and it is enough parking for trailers and for employees to handle not only the 400 or 500 people that will initially be hired, but any future growth that may come,” Garza said.

Asked when the warehouse will open, Garza said: “They are looking to build this 900,000 square-foot facility within the next year or so and to have operations as early as this summer or fall.”

Having such a big manufacturing operation in the city allows Garza and his EDC team to work on attracting potential suppliers.

“There are suppliers to Cardone that we are discussing opportunities with, locating here close by. There are other related companies where it makes sense to be located in Harlingen because of our location. Those are hopefully future announcements.”

Raudel Garza holds an Ultra Premium Caliper, manufactured by Cardone Industries in Matamoros, Mexico.

Los Indios Free Trade Bridge

With regard to the Los Indios Free Trade Bridge, Garza said plans are in place to attract more fresh produce shippers. The bridge is co-owned by the cities of Harlingen and San Benito and Cameron County. On the livestream, Garza announced a new marketing campaign would soon be launched.

“We have been working over the last few years in trying to make sure that we have all the amenities necessary to support the produce trade and to be able to handle shippers’ needs so when they get stopped for a secondary inspection at the border, that our facilities can handle their product and they can rest assured that the product is going to be in a climate-controlled environment,” Garza said, following the livestream.

“We are working with CBP (Customs & Border Protection) and other governmental agencies to make that happen. It is also about spreading the word, throughout Mexico and the United States, where these buyers and shippers and growers understand that they have an alternative to Nogales or Pharr and they can ship through the Los Indios Free Trade Bridge here in Harlingen, and be able to save time and money. Part of our efforts will be to market it in Mexico and the United States.”

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