Rebeca, thank you for inviting me. You know it is nice to be here today at this great event. 

When I was coming over here, I was actually sitting at my desk. I had forgotten that I was actually about to come here. They asked me, where are you going? I said I am going to do a presentation at the EDC. They said, but we just saw you in front of the camera. I said, well, they are going old school. We are actually going to meet in person and we are going to do the presentation, which I really appreciate because I think people are missing this kind of presentation. 

But, as Becky mentioned, I do have a history here with the EDC. I am excited to be here today because I started in economic development about 15 years ago in the City of Harlingen. I worked there for a couple of years and when I left the City of Harlingen, I decided to go off on my own as a consultant. The first community that hired me as a consultant was the City of San Benito. And so I know the City of San Benito very, very, well. I have conducted retail studies for the City of San Benito. I know the properties that you have here. I know the growth that you guys have experienced over the last few years. I have been able to keep track of you. So, I am excited to see everything that is going along.

Throughout the years you guys have kept moving along. A lot of times people praise the larger communities but it is the smaller communities that keep the bigger communities from doing what they are doing. You guys keep growing and that also compliments the larger communities. I can appreciate that. But, as Becky has mentioned, throughout the years we have always retained a relationship. 

When I was with the City of Mission I took on the idea of building an entrepreneur eco-system or an incubator, if you will. And at the time, right next to city hall there was a former K-Mart building that we were able to take over. As much praise as we have had, as much recognition as we got for that building, I can tell you that, if I could do it all over again, I would do something of this size. I will tell you why. Because that building, although it was a nice building, it was too large. And so you can better manage your entrepreneurship and better manage your community in a facility like this than you could in a 50,000 square foot facility. It had a lot of space that doesn’t get used. So, yes it is nice but it is also not being as productive as it should be. When you have a facility like this, you can be more productive. You can get people in there, quicker. You can use the facility a lot better than when you have a large facility. So, I commend you all for what you have done here. 

I know this is an idea that Becky has had for many, many years. When you were in Brownsville I know that at one point you talked about doing something like this. So, I am excited to see that you have done it here in the City of San Benito. I don’t think there is a better community to have done it with. 

The community is just growing. (Look at) what you guys have done, with Texas Regional Bank. Ironically, I am with the bank now. It is amazing because I remember back in 2007, 2008, they were just barely starting to promote that property. When I was doing work for the City of San Benito I showed a few developers and a few retailers the site. But at the time they felt the traffic count wasn’t where they wanted it to be. They didn’t think the demographics were where they wanted them to be. So, I am excited to see it there. That it is finally there. I know the bank is very proud to be in the City of San Benito, I know the bank is proud to have made that investment in your community. So, I think it is a testament to everything that you guys have done with the EDC and, of course, with Manny here as the city manager. Mr. De La Rosa has done a helluva job growing the community. 

One of the things I can tell you as a former consultant and just as somebody in the economic development world, it is very rare that you see a city manager and an EDC working together. One of the first things I would tell the EDCs is that they have to work with the city manager. Often times you see an EDC and the city manager or city administration work in the opposite direction when they are all in the same team. The goal should be the same. You can see that here and I am excited to be here. 

Now, I am excited to say I get to be here as part of my job, because I am here with Texas Regional Bank. Just to give you an idea of what I do at Texas Regional Bank now, my job, literally, is to work with economic development corporations and basically do what I used to do as a consultant, I do now for free. So, if you guys need a retail leakage study, like I did for you ten years ago, I can do it for you for free. I do that because I feel, and the bank feels, that if we can help the community grow, then the bank will grow. So, because we have a branch in this city, we can help you all grow. We can help the entrepreneurs in the region grow, then by default the bank can grow. 

And so, that was the logic behind the strategy of implementing this position, a position that no other bank has. But, I am excited that I get to do this now throughout the Rio Grande Valley and I am excited to work with you, Becky. Thank you all for having me. Becky, thank you. Again, congratulations on this development.

Editor’s Note: The above commentary was given by Alex Meade, senior vice president of economic development for Texas Regional Bank, at the first anniversary of the San Benito Business & Economic Development Center. In his commentary, the ‘Becky’ Meade references is Rebeca Castillo, executive director of San Benito Economic Development Corporation.

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