REYNOSA, RGV – A record high number of workers are currently being employed by maquiladora operations connected to Index in Reynosa – over 130,000.

And, if all goes to plan and another five companies open plants in the border city this year, a record number of multinationals will be located there.

There are currently 151 such companies in Reynosa and five more are slated to arrive in 2020. The record high is 153.

“We are excited about the growth that is happening in Reynosa. I put it down to the great workers we have. They are producing great quality products,” said Humberto Martinez, the new president of Index Reynosa.

Index Reynosa is the trade association for the maquiladora industry. It operates at the regional and national level.

At the beginning of every year, Index Reynosa holds a media availability with local reporters, to announce the economic conditions of the maquiladora sector and to unveil the group’s new board of directors. Martinez, who operates Cornelius Manufacturing de México in Reynosa, was interviewed by the Rio Grande Guardian at the breakfast event.

“We are competing around the world. For example, my company ships products around the world,” Martinez said.

Cornelius is owned by Marmon Holdings, which is part of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. The company produces beverage dispensers in Reynosa.

“The products have to be of excellent quality. Thanks to our workers, they are,” Martinez said. “We pay well, we work as a family and we have smooth operations with on-time delivery. This is very important.”

Martinez also thanked the state and local governments, for ensuring security for maquila operations.

“We have the full support of the state government and the city government. We have continuous communications with them.”

Martinez said the record number of maquiladoras in Reynosa stands at 153. “Currently we have 151 and we are waiting for five more to arrive this year. We know two are coming for sure. Eight percent of the maquila workers in the nation are working in Tamaulipas and two percent are working in Reynosa.”

Martinez has opened maquiladoras around Mexico and around the world, including Germany and the United Kingdom. He said his top goal for 2020 is to bring supply chain companies from China to Reynosa.

“The tariff situation is advantageous right now. I think we can save supply chain companies millions of dollars if they relocate to Reynosa. They can save on transportation costs. Bringing these companies over from China will grow our city. It will bring more money to our city and give more people work.”

At the breakfast event, Index Reynosa announced its board of directors for 2020. In addition to Martinez as president, the board consists of Enrique Castro as social responsibility committee vice president, Mike Myers as industrial relations committee chairman and head of Foundation Index, Enrique Ramirez as import/export committee chairman, Darrel Renfrow as bridges, mentor and ethics vice president, Alfredo Guajardo as finance committee director, Marcial Zapata as EHS committee director, and Raul Setien as treasurer and secretary.

McAllen EDC perspective

Ralph Garcia, vice president of McAllen EDC, is pictured center with site selectors from Europe.

Ralph Garcia, a vice president of McAllen Economic Development Corporation, works to bring manufacturing companies to Reynosa. At a recent meeting with site selectors from Europe, Garcia quoted a higher number of manufacturing plants in Reynosa than Index. He also quoted a higher number of workers. The reason for this is not all maquila plants are part of the Index association.

“We have over 200 plants that are manufacturing today,” Garcia told the site selectors. They employ roughly about 150,000 people. It is focused on everything from automotive to electronic, white goods, metal fabrication, medical, some aerospace as well.”

In an exclusive interview with the Rio Grande Guardian, Keith Patridge, the president and CEO of McAllen EDC, welcomed the election of Humberto Martinez as president of Index Reynosa. He said he hopes Martinez will be part of the City of McAllen/McAllen EDC’s trade missions to China later this year.

“We have always had a close relationship with Index Reynosa and that continues with Humberto Martinez. We look forward to working with him during his term as president of Index Reynosa,” Patridge said.

“We see a lot of really promising growth coming in with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and with the new phase one China-U.S. trade agreement.”

McAllen leaders are planning four trips to China this year, one in March, one in June, one in September, and, most probably, one in November. The cities the trade delegation will visit include Shanghai, Shenzhen, Fuzhou and Guangzhou.

Patridge said McAllen Chamber of Commerce has, in the past, had a sister city arrangement with Guangzhou. He said he hopes that will be resurrected on the upcoming trip.

Asked why USMCA will be advantageous as McAllen EDC tries to lure Chinese companies to McAllen and Reynosa, Patridge said:

“When you look at the rules of the USMCA, for many commodities, particularly the automotive sector, in order to qualify for USMCA they have to have operations on both sides of the border. If you have to have operations on both sides of the border and you have the opportunity to have the same management team doing both, that is what the benefit of the border is.”

Another good reason for having operations in both the U.S. and Mexico, Patridge said, is that Mexico has 46 free trade agreements with countries around the world.

“We believe companies will see a strategic advantage in being on both sides of the border. We are excited. The big thing is getting the message out, so they understand it. When you look at the terms of the USMCAS it does not look like there is much change. But when you start digging in to the component parts of that, there are huge opportunities that come from having operations on the border.”

Patridge said he is confident a lot more Chinese manufacturing companies will start looking to open factories along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Because of our location, where we are central to the population center of North America, we have a good shot at getting many of those. Our relationship with Index Reynosa has always been a critical element of our success and so we hope Humberto Martinez has an interest in going on some of our trips to China. We will be making four trips in total.”

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows Humberto Martinez, the new president of Index Reynosa, speaking to reporters.