Dear RGV Friends, I’ve been asked a several times recently about the impact of the current political rhetoric on our region’s retail and hospitality industry as it pertains to our friends from south of the border coming over to shop, dine, stay and play.

I want to share my perspective.

Firstly, I am not making any judgement on the financial impact of anything until the Comptroller’s office releases their reports. A diverse economy like the Rio Grande Valley’s has way too many factors impacting it to work off of anecdotal spot evidence to make general conclusions. Those reports have a lag of over two months, so we will find out what December looked like in the next couple of weeks.

For the record, November looked pretty good actually. As a whole, communities in Cameron & Hidalgo County saw their sales tax allocations go up around two percent.

Secondly, and most importantly, when our friends from south of the river come to visit us, it isn’t somebody from the White House who welcomes them to the store, helps them find what they are looking for, rings them up at the register, seats them at the table, serves them their food, checks them in at the hotel, gives them directions, etc., etc.

It’s not the President, it isn’t a White House staffer, or an Administration official. It is us, our people, Valley people. Our relationship with our friends from south of the river isn’t controlled by Washington D.C., it is impacted by you, me, and the people around us.

If we want our friends to keep visiting us, we need to do our part to make them feel welcome as well as show our appreciation of their visit and their business. If we provide outstanding customer service and offer true Valley hospitality, and thereby make our guests feel welcome and appreciated, they are likely to be much more positively impacted by our person-to-person interaction than anything they see on TV, in the paper or online.

We need to make sure our hospitality is remarkable, so that our visitors remark to their friends and neighbors how welcome they felt in the RGV.

Even if you personally don’t work in the industries that interface with our visitors, you can do your part as well in a number of ways. No. 1, share this post if you think it has value. No. 2, when you see somebody who is a guest to our community (regardless of where they come from) be hospitable to them, thank them for their visit and their business, ask them if you can help them with directions or insights. Feel free to show some local pride by thanking them for visiting your town and giving a plug to your favorite restaurant/store/destination.

We are the ones who write our story, we are the ones that control our future, and we are the ones who will decide the future of our relationship with our friends, neighbors and guests. Let’s go out and show folks true Valley hospitality.

Editor’s Note: The above guest column first appeared on Matt Z. Ruszczak’s Facebook. The views expressed in the column are those of the author, not any organizations he is associated with. The main image accompanying this guest column shows shoppers at La Plaza Mall in McAllen. La Plaza Mall is a big draw for shoppers from Mexico.