EDINBURG, RGV – The City of Edinburg and the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new Customs Facility at 10 a.m. July 21 at South Texas International Airport.

The Customs Facility, or the Federal Inspection User Fee Facility, will allow international travelers to clear customs in Edinburg. This will be the fourth permanent airport customs facility in the Rio Grande Valley–the others are located in McAllen, Harlingen and Brownsville.

Gus Garcia
Gus Garcia

South Texas International Airport (STIA) is a general aviation airport. Gus Garcia, executive director of Edinburg Economic Development Corporation (EEDC), said in order to increase the activity and expand STIA, the city council leadership looked into accepting international traffic. Together, the City of Edinburg, EEDC and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection invested $1.3 million in the Customs Facility.

“Several years back the decision was made that we need to somehow partner with customs to make the availability of international commerce so we could house cargo, freight forwarders, etc. with our new cargo facility and eventually expand the services, assets and infrastructures at our airport,” Garcia said. “So, the Customs Facility was really the beginning of [those] efforts. Now, we’re in conjunction with our Monterrey office and the marketing promotion we’ll be doing [and] letting international trade, freight forwarders, etc. know that we have a cargo facility as well as [a] customs facility to accept international travel, tourism [and] international trade.”

The 4,500-square-foot facility took approximately two years to complete. Aside from delays due to inclement weather, there were issues regarding specifications. The architect engineer and the federal government have specific requirements with respect to the construction of custom facilities. Garcia said every specification issue had to be addressed by the contractor.

“We had some certain type of glass paneling that had to be very specific on the way it was sealed. Of course, the security measures were a big concern,” Garcia said. “We had to reorder some parts and send some back. So, there were some challenges associated with that. I think that the contractor we had on it really tried to find a way to meet those demands, but certainly the federal government and the architect didn’t allow for it so there [were] delays on some of the manufacturing of the specification and type of materials being used for the facility.”

When asked why international travelers would go to the Edinburg Customs Facility instead of the one in McAllen, Garcia said the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, medicine and entertainment served as an attraction. The facility will also have less traffic compared to the McAllen Miller International Airport.

“The airport in McAllen is a wonderful facility and sometimes they can’t accommodate the massive amounts of traffic they get so there’s always an option,” Garcia said. “So, I think we’ll see some of that. Run-over, spill-over traffic as well as people wanting to come to some of those venues will also utilize that airport being on the northside.”