MISSION, Texas – The new CEO of Mission Economic Development Corporation says he plans to think and work regionally to help the entire Rio Grande Valley.
By way of an example, Teclo Garcia said he was working with McAllen Economic Development Corporation on a project bring new investment into the region.
“We have to compete as a region. We’re not competing against each other here. We’re competing against other regions. This region competes against DFW or Monterey and sometimes we compete as a state. We compete against other states,” Garcia said.
“So, I am definitely looking forward to the regional aspect of things and working with TxDOT and Andrew Canon (of the RGV MPO) and all these other folks that have regional perspectives. It’s extremely important that we compete as a region.”
Garcia made his comments in a wide ranging video interview with the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service. He said he was looking forward to working with economic development leaders across the Valley.
“I am currently working with Keith Patridge for the McAllen EDC on on a project. I know Luis Bazan (director of the Pharr International Bridge) very well and Pharr (EDC). Yeah, there’s a spirit of competition there. But we all know each other. We know that the best thing to do is do the best thing for the region.”
A meet and greet was recently held at La Fogata by Mission Chamber of Commerce to introduce Garcia. “What an amazing turnout. We had a full house of community leaders and business owners who were eager to network and share ideas,” the Chamber stated. “A special thank you and congratulations to Teclo Garcia, Mission EDC’s newest president and CEO. We wish you success and prosperity in your role.”
Garcia has served in the military, worked in the newspaper industry and gained economic development experience in Mission, McAllen and Laredo. He was previously government affairs director for the City of McAllen and external affairs and communications director for Mission EDC. He also spent almost three years a director of economic development for the City of Laredo.
Asked for an overview of Mission’s current economy, Garcia said: “Mission is on the cusp of doing some some really great things. The expansion of Anzalduas International Bridge to make it a full-on commercial bridge will enhance our opportunities for national trade and investment here in Mission. We’re also bringing a lot of retail to the city, some exciting new stores… some that you’ve seen around the Valley, some that you haven’t. We’ve got some new brands coming in.”
Garcia also discussed new housing projects coming to Mission.
“We’re expanding very quickly on the single family home front… especially on the southern end of the city where you are seeing hundreds of new homes. And just yesterday, at the Mission City Council meeting, there was about 268 new homes approved, platted and approved. So, we’re moving at a very quick pace.”
Garcia pointed out that more roof tops is usually a precursor to more retail development. This in turn leads to more sales tax revenues and and expansion of a city’s property tax base.
“All these things are very positive. One thing we have to be cognizant of, here in Mission, is not to miss these opportunities with the bridge being expanded into a full commercial facility, along with the residential growth and retailers coming in. We have to capitalize on those and allow those to happen as best we can so investing can move the city forward.”
The Rio Grande Guardian asked Garcia what he had learned working on economic development in Laredo, a city renowned for international trade.
“Laredo does do a lot of international trade. What a lot of folks don’t know is that there are four bridges, vehicle bridges, in Laredo and one rail bridge. And then there is the airport, which does a tremendous amount of international trade. They probably do 80 flight operations a day, sometimes up to 100 a day in terms of cargo flights,” Garcia pointed out.
“Laredo does more trade than all of the ports from Brownsville to Yuma, Arizona, combined. So you can put Pharr, Brownsville, El Paso, Del Rio, Yuma, New Mexico, all those together. They still don’t amount to what Laredo does. And, just to give you another example, they do about $80 billion more in trade than the Port of Houston does on an annual basis. Everybody thinks Houston is such a huge port. Laredo has it a beat by by miles.”
Garcia said what he learned from this is how important it is to establish good relationships in Mexico.
“I’ll give you an example. John Deere runs a huge operations in Saltillo. They use the Laredo bridges to move almost all their products into the United States from Mexico.”
Another example he cited was Lego. “They have three centers of manufacturing around the world. One of them is in Monterrey and (there) they have a campus with 6,600 employees. They move all their lego products into the United States through Laredo by truck.”
And another example: “Guadalajara moves 80 percent of their vodka into United States through Laredo. So establishing those relationships, understanding the trade routes, understanding what’s important to the client, which is expediency, which is capacity, and understanding how we can facilitate that, bringing that to Mission, with our bridge being expanded, is really going to be important for us so we can leverage this opportunity and not let it slip away.”
While in Laredo, Garcia worked with Killam Development, a company that is developing a master-planned community in south Mission.
“That project, which you may have already reported on, it’s about 175 acres, and what we’re being told is that about 60 percent of that has been pre-leased already. Now they’re moving dirt on it. They’re installing infrastructure, water and sewer lines, etc.,” Garcia reported.
“So we’re very proud to be working with Killam. I worked with Killam in Laredo in establishing a huge TRZ (transportation reinvestment zone) district. So, it’s good to be here and working with them again. They are model, corporate citizens. They care about the environment. They do what’s right for the community. We’re super glad to be working with them.”
Planning for growth
Asked how he and the EDC team are preparing for the growth that is expected to occur because of the expansion of Anzalduas International Bridge, Garcia said:
“We have to understand what traffic is going to come through; what industries want to use this bridge and what is their destination. Is it a situation where they’re dropping off cargo and going back across and long haul picks it up from here and takes it to DFW? We have to understand traffic patterns, manufacturing patterns. We have to understand how to work closely with our federal partners because they’re going to be running the inspection stations, and with our local law enforcement. So, we have to manage all of those sorts of issues in order to take advantage of this situation. We have to maximize opportunities for investment.”
The Rio Grande Guardian also asked Garcia to expand on his comments about more retail stores coming to Mission. He responded:
“The one I am really excited about is the redevelopment of the K-Mart site that we have on the expressway here, on Bryan Road. That is going to turn into a multi-store, multi-pad site facility. We were just talking to the developers yesterday about it. We are really happy about that. That should get going here in the next couple of months and then the stores will be announced.”
Garcia said the EDC is also working to fill out the property in front of the Mission Event Center. “We have a lot of land there. I can tell you that there are two major brand hotels that are coming in. Both of them will have about 110 rooms. One will be a Hilton property and the other a Marriott property.”
Garcia said Mission will also be getting more coffee houses and national sandwich chains. He said the EDC will also be bringing back its Ruby Red Ventures competition next year to help small businesses in the city. “Mission has always been big on small business,” Garcia said.
Garcia said Mission EDC will be working with the City of Mission to improve two programs designed to help revitalize downtown.
“We have two downtown programs which have been a little bit dormant because of COVID and so forth. But, in 2023, we’re going to relaunch our downtown facade improvement program. We also have our rental assistance program to bring businesses into downtown. We’re going to tweak things a little bit. I think we’ve been pretty narrow in the scope of where those programs can be, like just on Conway. So, we’re going to look at how we can stretch that out a little bit and impact more businesses. This core mission is really, really important to us. And it’s important to Mission citizens and our elected leadership.”
It was put to Garcia that if some people think of Mission as a sleepy suburban of McAllen, they might be in for a shock, once Anzalduas International Bridge ramps up. Garcia responded by stressing the importance of good leadership. He cited the leadership exhibited by the Mission EDC board of directors, Mission City Council, McAllen City Commission, and the Anzalduas International Bridge board of directors.
“Bridges alone are not enough to to create a ton of investment and opportunities. If you don’t have the sort of leadership that understands the opportunities… you can build a bridge and nothing is gonna happen. But I think that we’re all on the same page. We understand. I know, Mayor Garza is on it. Our city manager understands it. So we’re really going to work hard to make sure that this is a success. And we’ll work with the Killams and/or other developers to try to make sure that we bring in the right companies and create jobs, good paying jobs that can help the residents Mission and the area.”
Asked for a wrap-up remark, Garcia said: “This is not about me, it’s about the city. It’s about the EDC. We want to create jobs for people. We want to do three things and I’ve been saying this from the get go. We want to create opportunities for investment. We want to create jobs. We want to enhance the workforce. There are other things that will shoot off from there, such as small business, international trade, but those are the pillars we are going to work from. I think if we stick to those things, a lot of good things will happen. We’ve got great leadership here. And so we will we’ll keep working it.”
Editor’s Note: The above news story is the second in a two-part series about the work of Teclo Garcia, Mission EDC’s new CEO. Click here to watch Part One.
Quality journalism takes time, effort and…. Money!
Producing quality journalism is not cheap. The coronavirus has resulted in falling revenues across the newsrooms of the United States. However, The Rio Grande Guardian International News Service is committed to producing quality news reporting on the issues that matter to border residents. The support of our members is vital in ensuring our mission gets fulfilled.
Can we count on your support? If so, click HERE. Thank you!