McALLEN, Texas – The Rio Grande Guardian has published a number of letters from prominent business leaders in McAllen who are upset with the way Steve Ahlenius departed the McAllen Chamber of Commerce.

The former president’s resignation letter was accepted by a majority of the board of directors over the objections of a minority. The minority wanted to Ahlenius to stay in his post, which he has occupied for the past 24 years.

Ruben Lozano, Jr.

Since then a letter writing campaign has been started to achieve one or two goals: to have Ahlenius reinstated and/or to have the current leadership of the board of directors replaced. 

The letters, some penned by former McAllen Chamber chairs, have been sent to McAllen Chamber of Commerce board members and to McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos. Some have been published in the Rio Grande Guardian.

The Rio Grande Guardian has sought the opposing view, to provide balance. However, Annette Franz, the Chamber’s chair, has not returned calls or emails requesting comment. Now, though, we are pleased to say we have the viewpoint of a local businessman who wants to see change, who believes it was time for Ahlenius to move on.

That businessman is Ruben Lozano, Jr., president of Mira Gulf Holdings, LLC. He is pictured above.

Here is his letter to the Rio Grande Guardian:

Dear Editor,

My name is Ruben Lozano, Jr., I grew up in Reynosa, but ever since Kindergarten I attended school in McAllen all the way through High School in McAllen Memorial. Nowadays, I live in Mission, Texas, and have done since 2009.

I believe it will be of great benefit to have a new leader at the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. The dynamics that have evolved not only in McAllen but in the whole RGV region has tremendously accelerated during these last ten years. McAllen is no longer that city from the 80s or 90s when it was the sole leader in all aspects and the surrounding neighboring cities were mainly dedicated to the agricultural industry.

From 2017 to 2019 I had the great opportunity to represent the State Government of Tamaulipas here in Texas. It was unique to experience how many Valley cities were eager to grow, develop, expand their businesses and markets. Unfortunately, McAllen was always the lone player and was always going solo, covering up the spotlight instead of trying to be synergetic with the rest of the Valley. This, to my opinion, caused a distancing from the neighboring cities. We individually saw how major national retailers and entertainment complexes started developing along the rest of the Valley. Bass Pro Shops in Harlingen, Top Golf in Pharr, HEB Park in Edinburg, Mercedes, Audi, Land Rover in San Juan, and so on.

The other lack of focus from the McAllen Chamber was the empathy towards the Mexican entrepreneurs that migrated to the city during the early 2010s. This new movement caused great diversification in different sectors benefiting not only McAllen but the whole Rio Grande Valley. Not attending to these entrepreneurs due to cultural lost-in-translation aspects, kind of lost all touch this movement, instead of consolidating and building a strong new arm for the chamber. The BiCOOLTURAL movement led by Jesus Gonzalez and Marcela Freeland was even started because of this and they have really picked up a great number of business owners along the way.

To conclude on this, I really think the refresh on the Chamber’s leadership will be very beneficial to McAllen, the Valley and even northern Mexico now that the bridges have been opened. This new leadership must come in to join different forces and attend to the many diverse needs that all the members and new members will have. We need someone that can transmit the opportunities that currently exist in McAllen to people that are planning to visit, relocate or just looking of a place to invest. Today a wave of Californians are coming to Texas and so it will be imperative to have a leader who can visualize how to capture this movement. If things are done right this can be very detonating in the best of ways for McAllen and its neighboring cities.

Best regards,

Ruben Lozano Jr.


Mira Gulf Holdings, LLC

Editor’s Note: Please keep your letters about the future direction of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce coming in. We will endeavor to publish all sides of the argument. Please send the letters via email to: [email protected] Thank you!

Editor’s Note: To read previous stories on this subject click here, here, and here.

Editor’s Note: To read Steve Ahlenius’ most recent business column, click here.

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