McAllen EDC Vice President Ralph Garcia, McAllen EDC President Keith Patridge, and economic development consultant Rafael Ángel Ortiz Salazar.

MCALLEN, RGV – Despite continued violence in the city, Reynosa is experiencing tremendous economic growth, McAllen Economic Development Corporation reports.

MEDC officials gave their monthly report on business retention and recruitment in the McAllen-Reynosa area at a board of directors meeting. They said they were optimistic about potential investment in the region.

Keith Patridge

Keith Patridge, president of the McAllen EDC, reported that companies are still actively pursuing investment in the border region regardless of the violence in Mexico.

“Things continue to be pretty active here over the summer as far as new companies and so we’ve been working pretty heavily with companies on both sides of the border,” Patridge said. “Even though there is still quite a bit of violence and activity in Mexico taking place we are seeing a lot of activity still, both on the Mexico side and on the U.S. side.”

Although the violence continues, Patridge reported that they’ve created 27,000 new jobs in the McAllen-Reynosa area over the last 18 months, with approximately 3,070 of those on the U.S. side of the border.

Patridge emphasized those jobs were not replacement jobs, when companies lay off workers then rehire; rather that they’re new jobs, “above the high point in employment,” either from new companies moving into the region or existing companies expanding.

“Those are new jobs and then expansion jobs among existing companies and the rest are on the Mexico side,” Patridge said. “So even though the violence is happening over there we are still seeing a lot of activity and Ralph is working with a number of new companies, additional companies that are very close.”

Patridge was referring to Ralph Garcia, vice president of MEDC’s Mexico operations, who works on economic development in the Reynosa area.

Three Million Square Feet

If everything goes according to plan, Patridge added, Reynosa would be set to have an absorption rate of three million square feet this year, a big deal for a growing city.

“It looks like we could hit a three million square foot absorption rate in Reynosa this year if everything falls the way we’re looking at so that’s big,” Patridge said. “That’s big for any big city. I expect that would be big for Houston. So, we see the activities continuing.”

Ralph Garcia

At the meeting, Ralph Garcia reported on one of the potential prospects that would occupy a large amount of industrial space in Reynosa. Although that would leave the city with less space for other investors, they’re planning to build more buildings in industrial parks to continue to attract business.

“We did have a total of three prospects visits,” Garcia said. “One of them is very promising, probably right now actually evaluating a particular building that will absorb a substantial square foot amount of space in Reynosa, and that’s a positive and a negative. A positive in the sense that it would take up the space and the negative it leaves us with very little space left in the market. So, some of the developers are evaluating the opportunity to build some speculative space to start attracting investment as well.”

Garcia said Bettcher Manufacturing Corp., which currently has 600 workers, is exploring more business opportunities in the region. The company wants to expand its footprint by 15,000 square feet for its metal stamping production and is looking at bringing in another 200 workers.

“The company has added additional lines and had good growth. They have had to hire additional employees to keep up with production demand,” Garcia wrote. “They are exploring new business opportunities in Reynosa and are working with MEDC to establish contacts in the region.”

Another firm expanding in Reynosa, Garcia said, is Cornelius, a manufacturing company that creates beverage-dispensing products. He said it is expanding its facility by 75,000 square feet and adding 148 jobs. It currently has 700 workers in Reynosa.

“The company has leased an additional 75,000 square feet and have hired additional employees. They continue to hire and will be adding additional product lines to their Reynosa facility,” Garcia wrote.

Garcia said that Corning Cable Systems CFX, a telecommunications company that creates fiber optic cable spools in Reynosa, is the largest employer in the city and now plans to expand its facility to add more jobs.

In his written report, Garcia said: “Corning has started construction on a new facility in Del Norte Industrial Park. The new facility is roughly about 500,000 square feet. This will add to their already large footprint in Reynosa. They plan to hire an additional 3,000 employees.”

Garcia told MEDC board members: “Corning Cable has started construction on half a million square feet. It will mirror one of their facilities currently located in the north industrial park. By far Corning is the largest employer, more than 13,000 employees. This additional facility will add another 3,500 jobs, so good growth.”

Rafael Ángel Ortiz Salazar

Garcia gave a special thank you to Rafael Ángel Ortiz Salazar, former secretary in the Tamaulipas department of economic development and tourism, for the support he’s provided MEDC and the role he continues to play to bring more business to the region.

Rafael Ángel Ortiz Salazar

“With the change in administrations, Ángel is no longer with the state, but his expertise and his experience has helped us a lot and with the transition of the new group in place, a lot of the programs that are available to companies, a lot of the permitting processes that take place either municipal and state level, they’re learning,” Garcia said.

“So, he’s actually assisting us with those projects. Projects that we’re currently working on in Reynosa where he’s moving in and showing them what the steps are in terms of getting the process done so it helps us expedite that process so we’re not limiting or hindering the opportunities that are coming to us.”

Garcia said Ortiz is working on partnering with universities in Mexico and in the U.S. to provide workforce training and development in Reynosa.

“He’s also going to be working with us on some of the projects for workforce development and training with some of the universities on the Mexico side in partnerships with potentially schools on this side of the border,” Garcia said.

“And then also with FUMEC, which is a group that Keith sits on the board of, where they’re looking at developing a program for advanced manufacturing in Reynosa to support industry. So, his help has been vital for us and so I wanted to make sure we did introduce him and thank him for being with us this morning.”

FUMEC is the Fundación México Estados Unidos.

Visit to Monterrey

McAllen EDC Vice President Ralph Garcia and UT-Rio Grande Valley Professor Miguel A. Gonzalez

In his final remarks, Garcia said he went to the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education this past week with a Professor Miguel Gonzalez from UTRGV to discuss with a group of businessmen how the border region continues to appeal to investors.

“Really the focus of the discussion was to talk about NAFTA, some of the potential changes that could come, but more than anything the border and how industry continues to come to the border,” Garcia said.

“Mexico as a whole you have seen the interior have tremendous growth. A lot of automotive, aerospace, but the border continues to be really attractive. And really the opportunity here for us is logistics being that the primary advantage in efficiencies are the ports, but also the availability of an experienced workforce in the young population. So those are things that keep driving a lot of the business our way.”

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