BROWNSVILLE, RGV – Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez hopes and believes a “new energy” at city hall will lead to greater investment by the private sector.
Mendez was one of a number of Brownsville leaders to speak at a “Building Brownsville Developer” event on Nov. 18.
Presentations from various Brownsville entities were given to potential investors at the Brownsville Events Center. After a luncheon at the center, attendees had the opportunity to take one of two bus tours. One bus focused on downtown Brownsville. The other focused on the city’s industrial parks and airports. Combined they were dubbed the “Explore the Possibilities Tour.”
At the end of the tours, the two parties joined up for a mixer at Las Ramblas in downtown Brownsville.
Speaking at the events center, Mendez said:
“This is exactly what I envisioned months ago when I decided to run for mayor. We needed excitement. We needed to get more investment to Brownsville, we needed to open Brownsville for business. I am so excited because I see all the pieces falling into place. You can see it. You can definitely feel it. There is a new energy at city hall.”
Mendez said the City of Brownsville now has a great team in place.
“We have got a new city manager, a new deputy city manager, some other individuals in the planning department, the engineering department, public works. So, I am really excited to see this team develop into what it is now. I really give a lot of credit to our team and our city manager for putting this together. The way I see it now, it is almost the Dream Team.”
Mendez said he can sense that momentum is gathering pace in Brownsville.
“It really feels as though, not only are all the pieces in place, but, we are moving at a rate that is outpacing everybody else. I think the numbers show that. If you see the sales tax numbers and you see every other number, you can see our sales tax numbers are, I think, the highest in Cameron County. You can see the consumers are there. They are buying and they are looking for opportunities.”
Mendez thanked the potential developers and investors for attending the event.
“Brownsville is definitely open for business. We want to build a different culture and part of that culture is being customer friendly and running the city like a business and really seeing and drawing that investment and different types of opportunities,” Mendez said.
“We have Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones, we have other different types of abatement opportunities, depending on the business, depending on the deal. We have got lots of commercial opportunities; a really good team that can put that together for you. I am excited about our deputy city manager, Helen, who has been doing this for years in other cities. Her work speaks for itself. Same for Noel, our city manager.”
The new city manager is Noel Bernal. The new deputy city manager is Helen Ramirez.
“Our downtown, as you can see, is booming. We have got more than 30 new businesses that have opened in the last year. The opportunities are there,” Mendez said.
“I am excited that everybody is here to see what those are and to hear about those. And, together with the commission, Commissioner Cowen, who is here, and the others, we are moving forward, and, like I said, moving at a rapid pace.”
Brownsville is changing, Mendez believes. And for the better. His closing remarks were:
“You are going to see a different Brownsville. You are seeing it already. A year from now we are going to be talking about how fast we are growing. Hopefully, that is in partnership with a lot of you that are here today. Thank you very much.”
After the luncheon, the Rio Grande Guardian secured a brief interview with City Commissioner John Cowen, Jr. He said:
“Events like this are really important for us to showcase the assets that we have. We are probably the only place in the country that has five ports of entry, including Space, now. We should be attracting a lot more investment than we have been. I think a lot of it is marketing our community in a great way.”
Cowen added: “We are looking to remove every road block that we created for ourselves over the years and trying to clean that up. As you can see, we have all new leadership at director level, pretty much, and at the city manager level. It is a great time to be in Brownsville.”
Speakers at the Brownsville Events Center
Sergio Contreras, president of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership, emceed the event. The first speaker was Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez. He then introduced a video titled Brownsville – A 360 Degree View. This was the same video that was played at Mayor Mendez’s recent State of the City address.
The next speaker was Constanza Miner, retail and development manager for the City of Brownsville. Her presentation was titled Open for Business! Something for Everyone in our Historic Past, Redeveloping Present or Near Future.
Next up was Josh Mejia, executive director of the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation, Brownsville’s Type B economic development group. The theme for his speech was innovation.
Esmy Villarreal, president of Brownsville Chamber of Commerce was the next speaker. She spoke about the new initiatives BCC is undertaking.
Next up was Bryant Walker, airport director of Brownsville-South Padre Island International Airport. He spoke the expansion current underway at the airport.
Then came Mario Lozoya, executive director of the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation, Brownsville’s Type A economic development group. Lozoya spoke about the city’s industrial parks.
Closing remarks were made by Helen Ramirez, the City of Brownsville’s deputy city manager.
This podcast features the speeches given by the Brownsville leaders listed above.
Editor’s Note: The above podcast is the first of two in a series about the Building Brownsville Developer Event. Part Two will be posted next week.
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above story and postcard shows Brownsville leaders at Las Ramblas.