MCALLEN, RGV – McAllen Mayor Jim Darling, McAllen Economic Development Corporation President Keith Patridge, and McAllen EDC Vice President Ralph Garcia will be visiting South Korea September 9-16.

The purpose of the trip is two-fold, to visit with companies MEDC hopes to lure to the McAllen-Reynosa area and to attend the UNESCO World Technopolis Association.

Mayor Darling is on the board of directors of the UNESCO World Technopolis Association. He hopes to host the group’s 2018 general assembly in McAllen.

There are three events planned by UNESCO World Technopolis Association in Korea in September. Its Global Innovation Forum takes place Sept. 12-14 at ICC Hotel in Daejeon. Its International Training Workshop takes place Sept. 11, 13, and 14, also at the ICC Hotel in Daejeon. And its Hi-Tech Fair & Business Conference takes place Sept. 11-12 at the Daejeon Convention Center in Daejeon.

Darling, Patridge and Garcia plan to attend all of these events. However, Darling noted that they are keeping a watchful eye on the news because the Korean peninsula has grabbed the world’s attention in recent weeks.

Keith Patridge

“The mayor, Ralph, and myself will be going to Korea for a meeting with the UNESCO World Technopolis Association, which the mayor is on the board of that,” Patridge said.

“We will be going over to also meet with companies to talk to them about, that we’re working with, to bring a set of operations here. As you know Korea has been in the news lately so we will be monitoring that to see.”

Because McAllen is a member of the UNESCO World Technopolis Association it gets mentioned on the organization’s website. Here is the entry for McAllen:

McAllen is located at the southern tip of Texas in the Rio Grande Valley (not a geographical valley) and is part of the Southern United States. It is on the Rio Grande, across from the Mexican city of Reynosa. Most of the population of Hidalgo County estimated the population at 140,717 and the city has a total area of 46.3 square miles. Incorporated on February 20, 1911, McAllen is a home rule city and operates under the Council/Manager form of government.

Today the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission metropolitan area is one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the United States. McAllen has Foreign Trade Zone which is located south of McAllen between McAllen and Reynosa. This is first inland foreign trade zone in U.S and continuously ranks among the most active FTZs in the nation. It is occupied over 410 companies such as GE, Motorola, Coca Cola Bottling Company ranging from manufacturing, industrial, supplier, warehouse distribution, logistics, etc. It offers specific cost-saving opportunities to manufacturers and the products can be brought into the FTZ duty-free and full logistic support services including public warehouse services including pick and pack, order processing, inventory control, incoming/ outgoing quality inspection and kitting.

Click here to read a previous Rio Grande Guardian story about Mayor Darling’s efforts to land the 2018 UNESCO World Technopolis Association general assembly event.

NAFTA Update

In other news about McAllen EDC, Patridge said the corporation is paying close attention to renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“As you know, NAFTA negotiations started yesterday,” Patridge said. “We don’t know for sure what’s going to take place there. We have to wait and see, but it really has had little impact on the companies that were working with. I think they looked at how the impact or what they’re anticipating the impact is and they already figured that in into their plans. So, we continue to see them looking at either US side or Mexico side.”

Budget Cut

Patridge also reported that MEDC is likely to have its budget cut by the City of McAllen, primarily because of a decline in sales tax revenues by the city.

Patridge said a City of McAllen budget hearing will take place on Aug. 24 at Palm View Golf Course, starting at 5 p.m.

“We would like all the support we can get, so if any of you can make it we would appreciate you being there,” Patridge told board members.

“The process is we go before the CDBG board. We do presentations, they make a recommendation. They have recommended pretty much an across the board six percent cut to all the outside agencies.”

Patridge said MEDC understands the McAllen City Commission’s predicament.

“We understand what they’re doing because quite frankly we have the sales tax receipts are down for a number of reasons and I think that’s just a sound financial responsible management on the part of the city,” Patridge said.

Patridge said city leaders are making sure they budget conservatively. “We don’t mind that, we would prefer that we (were) not (cut), but if they do we understand.”

A budget cut of six percent would amount to $83,000 less in funding for MEDC, Patridge explained. However, he pointed out that MEDC contributes much more to the city than what the city provides them, by offering building and storage space and other projects that amount to thousands of dollars.

“The one thing that we keep talking about in the budget hearings is the fact that we have MEDC and then we have the Foreign Trade Zone which is a separate corporation. The Foreign Trade Zone is currently we’re providing a building for the city, a dollar a month for the parade floats, construction and storage. That amounts to about a $220,000 a year donation that we’re making to the city,” Patridge said.

“Plus, we’re working them on the Madero Bridge project which is another $36,000 and then we put $100,000 of revenue from the MEDC budget into the city/chamber tourism/retail development promotional effort. I think it’s important. I hope that’s taken into consideration as we look at our budget because we are giving back a lot more than what they’re looking at cutting.”

Editor’s Note: Reporter Steve Taylor contributed to this story from McAllen, Texas. 

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above story shows a McAllen EDC delegation visiting South Korea in March and April, 2014.