MCALLEN, Texas – McAllen Economic Development Corporation is conducting a new comprehensive economic development strategic plan to set the future direction of the organization.

MEDC has hired Austin-based TIP Strategies to oversee the seven-month project, working alongside a steering committee made up of MEDC board members.

“We feel we need to do a strategic plan. We all do that for our individual businesses. From an economic development standpoint, we want to look at everything,” said Keith Patridge, president of McAllen EDC.

“We want to create a plan for the community, working with the City of McAllen, which is a critical partner. That way we can insure we are all rowing in the same direction. If we don’t it becomes like bumper car driving. You are all going in different directions. Sometimes you are bumping into one another. We want to avoid that. We want to bring all this together.”

Keith Patridge

Tom Stellman, CEO and founder of TIP Strategies, said he is pleased to be helping McAllen.

“TIP Strategies is excited to be working in the City of McAllen. The region has long been a leader in economic development, and we expect to build upon its successes. We look forward to working with the business and community leadership to develop a plan that will promote long-term economic vitality for all of McAllen,” Stellman told the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service.

Patridge believes the MEDC’s strategic plan would be a “good fit” for the McAllen City Commission as it develops its infrastructure investment strategy.  

The City of McAllen has agreed to fund half the cost of the strategic plan, which has a price tag of around $175,000. McAllen EDC will pay the other half. Educational institutions such as South Texas College, UT-Rio Grande Valley and Texas A&M University may participate in the educational component of the strategic plan.

Patridge said McAllen EDC’s first strategic plan, developed as the group was starting out, served the group well. “The original plan was developed 34 years ago, and it worked. As a city, we were growing fast, among the top ten in the nation for many years. Then the Mexican component part of our plan was hit by the violence in Mexico. We decided to settle down, continue what we were doing and preserve what we had, as well as bring in new businesses. Then Covid 19 arrived and things fundamentally changed. We have to start anticipating where we need to be as a city. In years past, the city had the luxury of generating the income to pay for the required infrastructure on a pay as you go basis. But those costs are growing to a level where we need to plan for many of those new costs as we continue to grow.”

Patridge said now is a good time to develop a new strategic plan.

“Everything is in flux. I think we can all agree to that. Technology is changing very, very quickly and impacting how we all do business. It has impacted the banking sector, It has impacted medical, dramatically,” Patridge told his board of directors.

“So, we have to find out what everybody is thinking in the community. They (TIP Strategies) need to get ideas from you. We need to know what direction the community wants to go in and then come up with a plan, working with the city, to continue to grow and prosper for the residents of McAllen.”

Mark E. Garcia

Part of the strategic plan will look at how to interact, from an economic development point of view, with neighboring cities. Patridge said he does not like it when new companies come in and try to play one city against another in order to be given greater incentives for investing in the region. “Some companies say they will lease property and then, when the lease period is up, they threaten to go elsewhere if not given an incentive to stay. We will not do that. It is a zero-sum game.”

MEDC Executive Vice President Mark E. Garcia will be leading the planning effort and reporting to the MEDC board of directors each month on how the strategic plan is developing. 

“There is a lot of talent and experience in this room and we are going to tap into this for our strategic plan,” Garcia recently told the MEDC board of directors.

Garcia went on the explain why this is a good time to develop a new strategic plan.

“We are in a state of uncertainty with supply chains being disrupted and new technology being introduced all the time. We have artificial intelligence being used in our maquilas. On top of this, following the pandemic, employers are having a hard time finding workers. COVID has impacted how education is being delivered,” Garcia said.

“With all this happening, we figured it was a good time to go out and look and see what’s developing in our region. We have land issues we have to look at, labor issues, technology and most of all educational training. We want everybody to participate, whether it is through individual interviews, or roundtable discussions.”

Garcia added: “Strategic plans do not come cheap and they do not come around very often. So, we want to get it right.”

In a presentation to the MEDC board of directors in September, Patridge, the group’s president, said he liked a strategic plan TIP Strategies had conducted for Fort Worth.

Tom Stellman

“We are similar to Fort Worth in certain ways in that they have a lot of assets but are surrounded by a lot of cities that tend to be pretty aggressive in terms of recruitment. In their case, Dallas, Grapevine, Plano. They continued to grow but they tended to grow with lower wage jobs. They were becoming more of a bedroom community with lots of residential.”

The problem with that, Patridge said, is that residential communities that do not have a lot of industry require a lot of services but do not have a strong tax base.

Patridge said he liked the fact that TIP Strategies also revisited the Fort Worth strategic plan 18 months later to see how the city was doing. 

“Under TIP Strategies direction we plan to go out to all the sectors in the community and talk to as many people as possible to see what plans are being developed. We will then take this information and mold that together into a strategic economic development plan for McAllen.

Patridge added: “What I like about TIP Strategies is that they are a Texas firm. They understand Texas. They understand the Rio Grande Valley. They finished a plan like this two or three years ago for the City of Brownsville and as we understand that is what they are using right now in their effort with the aerospace industry. It looks like they are having results. Harlingen has used them. The Texas Workforce Commission has used them.”

About TIP Strategies:

TIP Strategies is a privately held Austin-based firm providing consulting and advisory services to public and private sector clients. Established in 1995, the firm’s core competence in strategic planning for economic development has broadened to include expertise in talent strategies and in organizational development. TIP has worked with more than 300 clients in the US and abroad to develop innovative strategies, programs, and outreach campaigns. We are a team of experienced practitioners who have led successful public and private sector initiatives before we consulted. Our depth of hands-on, professional experience allows us to understand the unique challenges our clients face. We pride ourselves on our ability to think creatively, and we customize each engagement to meet the client’s specific needs, from initial outreach to final implementation. TIP maintains offices in Austin, Seattle, and Boston.

About TIP Strategies CEO and Founder, Tom Stellman:

As CEO and founder of TIP Strategies, Inc., Tom has national and international experience in economic development and workforce analysis. Tom is the lead author of TIP’s Texas Automotive Profile and has spoken extensively about automotive supplier attraction strategies. He also developed and launched the highly successful Invest in Texas Alliance, a marketing initiative targeting domestic and international growth companies which generated over $3 billion in investment leads and facilitated the location of 15 companies.

Tom’s recent projects include developing a talent-focused strategy as part of a WIRED-funded initiative for a 26-county region in Kentucky and Indiana; crafting diversification strategies for military dependent communities in Texas (Fort Hood and Sheppard AFB) and Tennessee (Fort Campbell); preparing an economic development strategic plan for Hinds County (Jacksonville), Mississippi; and creating marketing strategies for suburban communities along the expansion of the President George Bush Tollway in the Dallas area.

Prior to establishing TIP, Tom was director of the Office of International Business for the Texas Department of Commerce. He led a 10-person staff charged with promoting the state’s exports, marketing the state to foreign investors, and facilitating communication between foreign investors and economic development organizations statewide.

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