MCALLEN, RGV – McAllen Economic Development Corporation leaders will be visiting with 450 potential clients in China later this month. 

The visit, between July 13 and 22, will comprise trips to Shanghai and Shenzhen.

MEDC President Keith Patridge explained how the visit came about in an exclusive interview with the Rio Grande Guardian.

Keith Patridge

“We have been working with a Chinese company. When they first came in we had an opportunity to talk about the many unique features of the border location of McAllen and Reynosa. As a result, the company became very intrigued by that,” Patridge said.

“The company, on its own, went back to China and started talking to their other business associates and company owners and as a result called Janie (Cavazos) and said, can you come over and put on a seminar.”

Janie Cavazos is a vice president of MEDC. She handles business recruitment and retention for the U.S. side of the McAllen-Reynosa border area.

“We talked about it and said, sure, we will go. And the mayor agreed to go because in China the political representation is very important. We wanted to take the mayor with us. Laura (Warren) is going and we have several subject matter experts, particularly on tariff and duty issues, such as Jorge Torres from InterLink. We have two attorneys, one from Mexico, one from the U.S., that are going with us. And a representative from the State of Tamaulipas that is going with us.”

Laura Warren, a McAllen-based architect, is chairperson of McAllen EDC.

Laura Warren

“We set this up thinking (we would visit) maybe 20, 30, companies. What we have been told now is there are 450 companies that want to meet with us,” Patridge said. 

Asked if he can believe he will be making a presentation to that many potential clients, Patridge said: “No I can’t. We do not know whether we will see 450. The interesting thing is, our (Chinese) client has taken our presentations, translated them all to Chinese and set everything up for us. We, of course, have the expense of going over, it is a pretty expensive trip, so we really want it to be successful and that it is fruitful for us to bring potential investment back.”

Patridge said he is not at liberty to name the Chinese company that is coordinating with MEDC. “We leave on the 13th of July and return on the 22nd. We will be visiting Shenzhen and Shanghai. Outside of Shenzhen there is a particular company that has asked to meet with us.”

Warren, the MEDC board chair, gave the Rio Grande Guardian an exclusive interview a legislative session wrap-up luncheon hosted last week by McAllen Chamber of Commerce.

“We are breaking new ground with this visit to China,” Warren said.”We are reaching out to over 400 companies that are interested in investing in our community. I think we have what it takes. The talent is here and we are ready. I know that Keith and his team will do an amazing job. I am honored to be part of it. We will continue to reach out to bring good things to the Valley.”

At the luncheon, Warren asked Rio Grande Valley legislators to help MEDC when it is negotiating to bring new businesses to the region. She pointed out that under new rules, MEDC and other economic development corporations must notify the State of Texas of the name of the company it is trying to land when it seeks state incentive dollars. Warren said such information should be kept confidential.

“We are competing with other states,” Warren said. “Being able to keep these (names of potential clients) confidential is important. Otherwise we lose the client.” She asked state Sen. Juan Hinojosa and state Reps. Bobby Guerra, Sergio Muñoz and Ryan Guillen to work on changing the rules so that company information is kept secret when state incentive monies are applied for. 

MEDC president Patridge also spoke about the upcoming trip to China at the group’s recent monthly board meeting. He said the trip came about through Cavazos’ work with a specific Chinese company. 

“They were impressed with what we do here and the unique aspects of the border location and the advantages we talk about with USMCA. As a result representatives with the company went back to China and started putting together a seminar and they asked us to come over and attend,” Patridge told his board members.

“Right now it is about 450 Chinese companies we will be talking with, including one very, very, large company that we will be having a separate meeting with. We will be meeting the president and the CEO and the No. 3 person in the company. We are told we are the only ones that have been able to get in to see them. This is a very important company, if we are successful in getting them.”

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows Shanghai at night.

Editor’s Note: The above news story is the first in a two-part series about McAllen Economic Development Corporation. Part Two will be posted later this week.