WESLACO, RGV – Asked what big projects she is working on for her city, the Economic Development Corporation of Weslaco Executive Director Marie McDermott was coy.

“I cannot tell you too much about we are working on right now other than to say, the Mid-Valley Airport Industrial Park is the place to be. Watch out for that,” McDermott said with a grin.

McDermott was speaking after taking her board of directors, the Weslaco city leadership and Weslaco Chamber of Commerce officials on a bus tour of the economic development projects that have happened over the past year. The trip was arranged for October as the EDC’s fiscal year has just ended.

Weslaco VIPs took a bus tour of the new and expanding economic development projects happening in their city. From left to right: Vangie Saenz, Chamber Board Member, Johnny Bautista, Chamber Board Member, Steven Valdez, EDC Director, Marie McDermott, EDC Executive Director, Doug Croft, Chamber Director, Bob Calvillo, Chamber Board Member, Elizabeth Walker, City Secretary, (Center) Maria Cisneros, EDC Manager, Joe Olivarez, EDC Board Vice President, Richard Talbert, EDC President, Diana Fuentes Aquilar, EDC Board Member, Cynthia Cabaza, EDC Board Secretary, Ron Garza, Executive Director, LRGVDC, David Fuentes, Hidalgo County Commissioner Precinct 1, David Suarez, Mayor of Weslaco, Jerry Tafolla, Mayor Pro-tem District 4. Not seen in picture, Greg Kerr, Commissioner, District 2.

“Over the past year we have seen an increase in capital investment of $15 million in our community, either through new businesses coming in or existing businesses expanding. It is exciting. We have been involved in all types of industries, retail, manufacturing, logistics. Next year we have got to beat that,” McDermott said.

During the bus tour, the Weslaco VIPs visited Mid-Valley Airport Industrial Park. “We saw a tractor clearing and leveling the land. It was fabulous. CI Logistics are clearing the land for a 210,000-square foot building,” McDermott said.

Asked about the project, CI Logistics founder Joaquin Spamer confirmed the dimensions of the facility – 210,000 square feet – and the said the first phase of the investment is valued at $4 million.

McDermott said the airport will be the future home of 40 leasable T-hangars being built by McAllen Aviation.

“We thought it important for our board of directors, the mayor, the city commissioners, the chamber of commerce, to see what was completed over last year. People talk about the projects we do but not many know what these companies produce,” McDermott said.

“So, we toured all the development that has been happening this past year and saw some construction begin. It was fabulous. Most people knew about the growth, but they did not know where it was taking place. We got them together. The best part was the leadership of the city was together. We then had lunch together and we talked about growth over the next year. It was a good bonding exercise.”

The bus tour circled an 18-mile route that featured 21 EDC & City locations of growth and economic prosperity.

McDermott said the tour bus was provided by Valley Metro and the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council, both of whom are headquartered in Weslaco. The bus seated 24 passengers including, EDC Board of Directors, the Mayor & Commission of Weslaco, Chamber Director & Chamber Board Members, Hidalgo County Commissioner, Precinct 1, David Fuentes, city administrative staff and McDermott with her staff.

McDermott said the route began at City Hall and highlighted a portion of the building that will soon be to host the UTRGV Center for Innovation and Commercialization (CIC) and the Robert C. Vacker College of Business & Entrepreneurship – Doctoral Program. The VIPs also learned about a proposed site for student housing within walking distance of the center.

McDermott issued a news release about the tour. It said in part:

“The bus continued though the historic downtown district promoting recipients of the Weslaco 100 and Facade Grants where EDC monies were made available to business owner occupying older buildings worthy of preserving.

“The bus then traveled along FM 1015 where city & county leaders/passengers learned of the economic benefit of having an Overweight Corridor allowing overloaded and tandem trucks to move more product per load. They also got to see Texas A & M Kingsville’s temporary portable classrooms and future site of $500,000 improvements to their Rio Grande Valley Engineering program.

“The tour ended its run along the frontage of Interstate 2, starring Weslaco’s most obvious explosion of growth in retail and restaurant development. Dignitaries saw construction sites for T-Mobile, Domino’s, Extreme Nutrition and Bar-B-Cutie Smokehouse as well as recently completed Jimmy John’s and Slim Chickens where to-go lunch boxes were prepared.”

At the end of the tour, McDermott said, EDC Board President Richard Talbert encouraged the VIPs to partner with the EDC in seeking additional property to grow the city’s industrial park. “As you can see, we have sold out of available space and we need to be looking five to ten years down the road from now to make room for industries that see Weslaco’s centralized location to the region as an advantage,” Talbert said.

The tour was McDermott’s idea. “We purposely organized a well-defined schedule of construction and improvement sites in Weslaco and catered the tour to people that are invested in our growing economy. That way the tour was more impactful and meaningful,” McDermott said.

McDermott said she plans to make the tour an annual event. Asked if she was putting pressure on herself to better last year’s achievements, McDermott said: “Yes and I am willing to accept that challenge.”