McALLEN, RGV – An eagerly anticipated cross-border study recently undertaken by the Nielsen group will be unveiled in McAllen later this month, says Keith Patridge, president and CEO of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation.

The findings of the study will be released on the morning of March 15 at the Casa de Palmas Renaissance Hotel, Patridge said. However, the event will not be open to the public as the information contained in the study is proprietary.

Keith Patridge
Keith Patridge

“It is the first time the Nielsen research group has ever done a border study on the interaction and movement back and forth between shoppers and visitors visiting the U.S.,” Patridge said. “We were able to put together a list of questions that they used. There is some really interesting stuff in the report. It is a very professionally done study on shopping habits, how much visitors spend, how often they come across. They have really broken it down and dissected it very well.”

Nielsen Holdings N.V. is the official name for the American global information and measurement firm based in New York City. The company is active in over 100 countries and employs approximately 40,000 people worldwide. Total revenues for the company were $6.3 billion in 2014, according to a company press release.

Nielsen’s decision to conduct the cross-border study came about thanks to Sergio Sanchez, program director of News Talk 710 KURV. KURV’s parent company, R Communications is a subscriber of Nielsen. Sanchez put the global information and measurement firm in touch with Patridge and he and the MEDC team came up with a list of questions they would like to see polled.

“The Nielsen study has been completed and the results are very, very, interesting,” Patridge told the Rio Grande Guardian. “We were able to give them some demographic questions and tell them some of the things we see on an anecdotal basis. They interviewed 1,503 participants, all the way from Matamoros to the Rio Grande City area, in northeastern Mexico. They asked shoppers there a whole series of questions about the demographics we were looking for – shopping habits, frequency of crossings, what they listen to, what they watch. There are some really interesting results that have come out of that.”

Patridge confirmed that the findings of the study will be for Nielsen clients. “They have told me that this is a subscription-only service so the only people who will get access to it are the people who participated. They have previewed the results with us but on March 15 they are going to do a data dump for all the participants that were involved in the project. All I can say is the numbers for R Communications look really good in it.”

Asked if MEDC will use some of the data from the Nielsen study on its new website, Patridge answered affirmatively.

“There is a lot of interesting information in their report. They are going to do a presentation on the results of their cross-border study when they come to town on March 15, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., at the Casa de Palmas. This is the first time it has ever been done on the border and now San Diego and Tijuana has requested Nielsen does one for their market too. But, we are the first.”

New MEDC website

Olivia Tamez, marketing manager for MEDC, said the corporation’s new website will launch in the next couple of weeks.

“We wanted our new website to show the viewer a little bit about McAllen. You have to remember we recruit international companies that may not know much about McAllen. They might think, border town, drug violence, etc. We wanted to showcase everything that is made in McAllen. So, we will have pictures of manufacturing plants in Reynosa and McAllen.”

Tamez explained that the website will be available in five languages, English, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese. “We chose these languages because these are the companies we are mostly dealing with. People will be able to sign up for our newsletter on the site. Also, we will be showcasing companies that are already here. We need to highlight our capabilities, why we are in a strategic location and, give good reasons why someone would want to live and thrive in McAllen, Texas.”

Bus trips to Reynosa

Another project MEDC is involved in is the resurrection of its bus tours to Reynosa. They did these in the past but stopped when violence in Reynosa became a hot button issue. Now, MEDC feels the violence has subsided. The group wants to show the Valley that Reynosa is a fun place to visit.

The first bus trip takes place on Friday, March 4. MEDC has hired a 54-passenger bus and invited VIPs such as McAllen Mayor Jim Darling. The tour will include visits to various industrial parks and a walk through one or two maquila plants. The tour will conclude with lunch at a top Reynosa restaurant.

“Part of our job is to promote both sides of the border and when you look at the last three days in the Valley there have been some shootings in McAllen, Mission, Edinburg. Those incidents do not mean the cities are not safe. It is similar on the other side of the border. We have people working every morning, coming and going, kids going to go school,” said MEDC Vice President Ralph Garcia.

“We are not doing this as a planned event, where we make it secure and we show you a side of Reynosa that we want to show you. It is show you the reality. When companies cross and they visit they leave with a different perception of the city, they feel safe driving around, they get out, they walk around, they take pictures. There is danger in any location, in any part of the world. When you go and experience that you have a comfort level that changes your perception of the city, as compared to the stories you hear.”

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct a mistake in the copy. Keith Patridge was originally referred to as President & CEO of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce. He is, of course, President & CEO of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation.