MCALLEN, RGV – McAllen city leaders say they want more say on economic development and to achieve this they have revamped a little-known city board.
The new-look Development Corporation of McAllen (DCM) now comprises a board of directors dominated by elected officials. Previously a majority of members were appointed by city commissioners.
DCM has seven directors. Four slots have been filled and three remain open. The four directors are McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, and McAllen City Commissioners Omar Quintanilla, Tania Ramirez, and Seby Haddad.
Mayor Darling says city leaders need more say on economic development because there are some big projects in the works.
“I think there are opportunities coming forward that are going to be significant with relationship to policies and dollar amounts. I think it is incumbent upon the city commission not only to get involved but to take responsibility and not get those (opportunities) handed to us as recommendations necessarily, but to get involved from the very beginning,” Darling said, at last Monday’s McAllen City Commission meeting.
DCM is not the same entity as the better-known McAllen Economic Development Corporation led by Keith Patridge.
4:37 minutes: New-look DCM board members learn that the corporation has $16.9 million in assets and $123,000 in liabilities, as of June 30, 2019.
4:50 minutes: City Manager Rodriguez tells DCM board of directors about the city’s new Retail Development Priority Corridor. He says the corridor includes 10th Street from Houston to Nolana, Business 83, and 23rd Street.
Rodriguez says there is $100,000 available in grants for local businesses in the corridor. He says a mailer will be sent out telling local businesses that grants are available. The aim: to get more business in the corridor.
Board member Tania Ramirez asks why there are no streets south of Expressway 83 included in the Retail Development t Priority Corridor. Rodriguez responds: “No reason, we try to make it as compact as possible.”
Rodriguez adds: “We need to increase the dollar amount to make an impact.”
5:09 minutes: New DCM board members are learning about some of the groups and entities the corporation helps financially. These include Boys & Girls Club, McAllen ISD’s After School Program, Christmas in the Park, the City of McAllen’s Washington, DC, consultants, the city’s Austin-based consultants McGuireWoods, Affordable Homes of South Texas, and Imagine Tomorrow. The biggest expenditure mentioned so far is UT-Rio Grande Valley. UTRGV gets $1 million from the city.
5:15 minutes: DCM board members say they want a monthly report on efforts to bring more retail stores to McAllen. City Manager Rodriguez says Retail Development Director Rebecca M. Olaguibel is making great connections with realtors. Rodriguez said Olaguibel is basically working alone on retail efforts but that discussions have taken place about adding an additional staff member.
5:21 minutes: City Manager Rodriguez says McAllen will get a lot more money in sales tax revenues if Internet sales are taxed. He said he has seen a report from the Comptroller that says an additional $2 billion in sales taxes could come into Texas if Internet sales are added.
5:26 minutes: Mayor Darling asks City Manager Rodriguez to get McAllen EDC to send a monthly report on its activities. Darling said if USMCA is passed McAllen will have some tremendous opportunities, including more business with China.
5:30 minutes: Discussion on sports: Mayor Darling says the $128,000 allocated for tennis should not be delayed. He says the city spends a lot of money or baseball and tennis gets neglected. City Manager Rodriguez says he will check with McAllen ISD to make sure the city does not duplicate efforts on tennis courts. Board member Ramirez says that when McAllen Convention Center is promoted city leaders should bundle the promotion of the city’s golf course. “It should be a package deal,” Ramirez said.
Board members Haddad and Ramirez suggest changing the name of the city’s Palm View Golf Course because people think it is in the city of Palmview.
5:48 minutes: Board members question why $400,000 is budgeted for management fees. City Manager Rodriguez said he has looked at this figure closely and the amount of hours spent on Development Corporation work is substantial. Rodriguez said 14 different city departments work on Development Corporation issues. “It’s a lot of work,” Rodriguez said. He also points out that McAllen EDC has a budget of $1.1 million while the Development Corporation has a budget of $400,000. Mayor Darling says the City of McAllen has a budget of $300 million but only $18 million is spent on Development Corporation work. He said he needs to spend more time on economic development issues.
5:58 minutes: City Manager Rodriguez says he would like to see the Development Corporation budget $4 million to develop cargo facilities at Anzalduas Bridge. He said that once cargo starts coming over the bridge, the Development Corporation could be paid back. “There’s some really big items coming,” Mayor Darling responded. He referenced a tech center, a research center, a bridge payment, and a reservoir.
6:03 minutes: Mayor Darling asks fellow board members to give some thought in the coming days to his suggestions for additional board members. There are currently three vacancies on the board and Mayor Darling has suggested McAllen EDC President Keith Patridge and McAllen Chamber of Commerce President Steve Ahlenius.
6:05 minutes: Meeting is adjourned.