McALLEN, RGV – McAllen Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Keith Patridge says there is no need for the City of Pharr to work on plans to develop a foreign trade zone because the McAllen FTZ already caters for the region.

Legislation authored by state Rep. Sergio Muñoz this legislative session seeks state support for an application the City of Pharr is lodging with federal government to create a foreign trade zone next to its international bridge. In a letter to the Rio Grande Guardian, Patridge said Pharr’s needs can and are being accommodated within the the McAllen Foreign Trade Zone.

Keith Patridge
Keith Patridge

“I was surprised to read your article about Pharr working on a project to create a new Foreign Trade Zone at the Pharr International Bridge,” Patridge wrote. “We are the Zone grantee for the Hidalgo-Pharr-Anzalduas Port of Entry.”

(Click here to read the Rio Grande Guardian’s story about Rep. Muñoz’s legislation.)

In his letter, Patridge points out that the McAllen FTZ was the 12th trade zone to be created in the United States and has been continuously operating since October, 1970.

Patridge said becoming the grantee of a Foreign Trade Zone is very similar to being a public utility. “According to the U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones Board, ‘each customs port of entry is entitled to one zone. Additional zones may be approved if it can be shown that the existing zone is not adequately serving the convenience of commerce.’ We are the Zone grantee for the Hidalgo-Pharr-Anzalduas Port of Entry.”

Patridge said it is important for readers to know that “we (McAllen EDC) have always strived to serve the needs of the Hidalgo-Pharr-Anzalduas Port of Entry by providing the most professional and comprehensive Foreign Trade Zone services possible.” Patridge said MEDC’s Zone management team is “well respected in the industry” and are consulted frequently on Zone issues. “We have always been willing to respond to requests to provide Foreign Trade Zone services to customers or cities served by our Port of Entry,” he said.

To illustrate this point, Patridge referenced the time MEDC was contacted by the City of Hidalgo in 2012. “They had a new automotive company locating in the City that needed to set up a manufacturing facility in a Foreign Trade Zone. Together we worked with the City of Hidalgo and their company to establish a McAllen FTZ manufacturing subzone. They have been successfully operating for nearly two years and they accomplished this in a faster and more economical manner.”

Patridge said Pharr’s efforts to land a Foreign Trade Zone are “even more surprising” given that nearly 15 years ago MEDC received a letter from the Pharr city manager requesting that MEDC work with the City of Pharr to set up a sub zone of the McAllen Foreign Trade Zone at the Las Milpas/Pharr International Bridge. “We responded with a willingness to set up the sub zone and started moving forward with our support documents. For some reason the project was discontinued and did not move forward at that time.”

Patridge concluded his letter by saying: “Once again, we stand ready to explore in more detail working with Pharr to establish a sub zone of the McAllen Foreign Trade Zone in the City.”

Asked to respond to Patridge’s letter, Pharr’s Pharr’s director of external affairs, Sergio Contreras said:

Sergio Contreras
Sergio Contreras

“We applaud McAllen for their FTZ success stories. We are neighbors and partners; we are in this together. As the leading fully commercial international bridge in the region which continues to break import and export records – over $30 billion in total trade with the world – we will continue to work with our local, state and federal partners – McAllen FTZ being one – to present our need of an FTZ.”

Contreras cited information from the ‘Texas Wide Open for Business’ website. It shows Texas leading the nation in attracting quality FTZ jobs. FTZs account for about 59,000 jobs. He said Texas FTZs lead the nation in three of the four categories of FTZ activity, which comprise imports and exports, manufacturing, warehousing and distribution.

“Being that the Pharr International Bridge has been in business for over 20 years – specializing in imports and exports – we look forward to following the process to justify the need of an FTZ that would be constructed near the Pharr International Trade Center,” Contreras said.