Well the first thing I would like to do, on behalf of the board and staff of the McAllen Economic Development Corporation, is extend my appreciation to the Judge (Richard Cortez) and the Commissioners Court, commissioner (Pepe Cabeza de Vaca), you, the mayor and the other commissioners of the City of McAllen, for supporting this very, very, important effort. 

Also, the Hidalgo County health department, Steve Ahlenius with the chamber, and, of course, Humberto Martinez, who is the president of Reynosa Index. 

This is very important. We have been doing this for 34 years. And over those 34 years we have helped recruit over 706 companies to McAllen and Reynosa. It was a strategy that happened in 1988 and it was really hatched by the leadership, the political leadership and the private leadership of the city of McAllen who recognized that Reynosa is not another country. It is the south side of a major metropolitan area. And, over the years, we have recruited these companies to Reynosa and McAllen. And I think better than me talking more about it is the statistics. They kind of give you an idea of what has happened. 

As I mentioned, we have recruited 706 companies. What is interesting is that it is almost evenly split, U.S. and Mexico side. 335 on the McAllen side and 371 on the Mexico side. Those companies have employed about 40,000 people on the U.S. side and 188,000 on the Mexico side. And, of course, part of that benefit is the complimentary labor rates and the competitiveness that Mexico, Reynosa, supplies to our region. And as we have seen these companies grow, all of them, I will tell you all of them have an operation both on the U.S. side and the Mexico side. Many of them started out being only warehousing, distribution, type facilities on the U.S. side. But now we are seeing those companies that have grown over the 34 years that we have been doing this, they have grown to the point now where they have major operations on both sides. 

I will tell you right now without getting into company names or anything, we are working (with) four of those companies that are already looking at or have committed to construct over a million square feet of new space on the U.S. side in Hidalgo County and those companies will employ over 1,500 employees in McAllen. And these are not just warehousing or lower-skilled type jobs. Yes, there are some of those. But it also involves research and development. Major engineering facilities where they will be doing design engineering on new product lines for the automotive and the aerospace (industries). We have many of those companies that we have moved in that started out supplying the plants in Reynosa and are now supplying SpaceX. 

So, there is a synergy that works between the two sides of the border. We are unique because we have the ability to use the best of Mexico, the best of the United States and offer that to a company so that they have the best of both worlds. For that, we are very, very, unique. 

We have problems, sometimes. We are dealing with border crossings, we have been dealing with violence for a number of years. We have now been dealing for the last year and a half with the pandemic. And those plants have continued thanks to the good management of the managers and their emphasis on safety, the social distancing, and everything. I will say that while we have had some that have outbreaks, the plants have really been able to continue to operate without major impact in Reynosa. It goes to show that they care about their employees. And this (new program) is just another example where we can help those managers and those workers that are working in those plants to protect themselves from this virus and hopefully be able to continue to operate as the commissioner mentioned, continue to be productive members that will continue to allow us to grow our economy to do well. 

All you have to do is talk to some of the hoteliers and the restaurant owners and they will tell of the importance of what we call the expense account travelers that come in with the manufacturing companies. And so, with that, what I would like to do now, to give you more specifications on the plants and more on the data of the plants, I would like to ask Humberto Martinez, who is the current president of the Reynosa Index to come forward. And he can answer questions on these companies. 

Editor’s Note: The above commentary was made by Keith Patridge (pictured above), president of McAllen Economic Development Corporation, at a news conference held Wednesday, July 14, 2021, at Hidalgo County Commissioners Court. The news conference was held to announce a program to give COVID-19 vaccines in McAllen to maquiladora workers from Reynosa.

Editor’s Note: The above commentary is the first in a three-part series on a program to give COVID-19 vaccines to maquiladora workers in Reynosa. Part Two will be posted in our next edition.

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