McALLEN, RGV -Each month, Matt Ruszczak, executive director of Rio South Texas Economic Council, takes a look at the latest sales tax reports from the Comptroller’s Office.

Here is his report for September, 2017, which reflects the July, 2017, sales tax activity in the state of Texas.

Matt Ruszczak

“Looking at the September, 2017, sales tax report, which reflects the July, 2017, sales activity in the state, we have a lot of positives we can pick up.

“I regularly monitor six counties along the border, all the way from Brownsville to El Paso, to see what kind of trends are developing and what the activity is along the border. This is the first month that I recall, in quite a while, where I see positive results for all six counties.

“El Paso County was up 2.1 percent, Val Verde County, which is the Del Rio area, was up 1.74 percent, Maverick County, which is the Eagle Pass area, was up 8.65 percent, Webb County, which is the Laredo area, was up 11.63 percent, and, coming in the Valley, Hidalgo County was up 1.36 percent, and Cameron County was up 2.00 percent. So, overall, a very positive up and down the border.

“Looking specifically at some of our communities here in the Rio Grande Valley, in Hidalgo County, Weslaco continues to be a very steady, positive, performer, up 1.17 percent, and McAllen saw a positive bump for the month, up 4.75 percent. In Cameron County, our stable performer is South Padre Island, they continue to do very, very well, they are up 4.98 percent, and Harlingen continues to be a standout, up 11.89 percent.

“Looking at some of the cities that did not have a positive month, Edinburg had a very slight decline of 0.37 percent, and Brownsville was down 6.15 percent. I would put an asterisk against that number because Brownsville generally moves along with Cameron County. This might be a reporting issue. We must check next month’s report.

“Overall, the region is doing strongly. Looking at Webb County, up 11.63 percent, while it is very positive for the folks in Laredo, please keep in mind the previous year for this month, July of 2016, they were down 10.48 percent. So, this year’s figure is a balancing out of the figures when you look at it historically.

“Some of the drivers are the oil price and the peso exchange rate. If you look at the price of oil in 2016, the price per gallon in July was between $41 and $49. In July 2017, the price was in the range of $44 to $50 per gallon. So fairly steady.

“The peso, in July, 2016, the rate was between 18.3 and 18.9, for this year we saw an improvement. It was 17.6 to 18.0 So, a little bit less than a five percent difference but still on the positive side, which benefits some of our numbers.

“If we look at the year to date numbers for our region, Cameron County continues to trend positively, up 0.54 percent. It is not earth-shattering in terms of growth but considering how much economic turbulence we saw at the beginning of the reporting year, it is quite good to see Cameron County is up for the year, even if it is only by 0.54 percent.

“Hidalgo County is still slightly down for the year, down 1.97 percent but the number continues to improve and hopefully we will be able to drift closer towards even or maybe hit even by the end of the reporting year in the next few months.”

Collaboration on economic development with the State of Tamaulipas

Carlos W. Talancón Ostos, secretary of economic development for the State of Tamaulipas, U.S. Consul to Matamoros Otto H. Van Maerssen, deputy consul for politics and economics, José A. Gutiérrez, and Matt Ruszczak, executive director of RSTEC.

Ruszczak, meanwhile, was included in a recent news release from the State of Tamaulipas. The Governor’s economic development office announced a collaboration it was forming with Rio South Texas Economic

Here is the news release:

The Secretary for Economic Development Carlos W. Talancon Ostos met with the U.S. General Counsel for Matamoros Otto H. Van Maerssen and with the Consul for Political and Economic Affairs Jose A. Gutierrez, to discuss the importance of strengthening ties that could lead to a stronger economy on both sides of the border.

One of the main purposes for consolidating a strong relationship between Tamaulipan and the U.S. authorities is to create a synergy with investors that will motivate the installation of new businesses that produce more sources of employment.

Also during the meeting authorities agreed to establish jointly with Matt Z. Ruszczak, executive director for the Rio South Texas Economic Council, an agenda of business development. This agenda will cover from Matamoros to Mier, which is the region where the Rio South Texas Economic Council has jurisdiction for on the Texas border.

“Tamaulipas has allies in the United States so we are making better use of this relationship; we think that the binational work will give us better results in economic development,” Talancon said.

Van Maerssen has had a long diplomatic career with the U.S. Department of State. He arrived recently in Matamoros and took over the position of general counsel.

The consul’s experience has been focused on the regions of the Western Hemisphere, Europe, the East Hemisphere and regions of South Asia.

Previously he served as an adviser to the Institute for Security Cooperation of the Western Hemisphere in the Department of Defense, and also held positions in Russia, Afghanistan, Switzerland, Iraq, France and Colombia.