WESLACO, RGV – Sergio Contreras, executive director of Pharr Economic Development Corporation, is leaving his post to become president and CEO of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership, the RGV’s regional chamber of commerce.
The RGVP board of directors unanimously approved the appointment at a meeting on Thursday. The RGV Partnership has been without a president since Julian Alvarez left to take up a commissioner position with the Texas Workforce Commission in Austin in February.
“I learned when I was working in governmental affairs with AT&T the importance of collaboration, partnerships and open communication. This new role fits right in with the passion I have for regionalism and taking a regional approach to issues,” Contreras told the Rio Grande Guardian.
Contreras, a PSJA native, worked for AT&T in Laredo, the Valley and San Antonio before returning to the Valley to work for the City of Pharr. Initially, he was the City’s governmental affairs director before being appointed head of its economic development corporation.
“I would like to thank Mayor Ambrosio “Amos” Hernandez, MD, for allowing me the incredible opportunity to represent a vibrant growing community. The Mayor’s leadership and passion for the City of Pharr has provided me professional growth and taught me how to get the job done right for the citizens of Pharr,” Contreras said.
In a statement, Contreras said he is “very appreciative” of the Pharr Board of Commissioners and Pharr EDC Board of Directors “for entrusting me with the many economic development opportunities in the City of Pharr. Their guidance has been invaluable.”
Contreras also said it was a “privilege to work hand-in- hand with my colleagues while always keeping the central goal of creating a better quality of life in Pharr.” He said he has “enjoyed working under a very accessible and supportive City Manager, Juan Guerra – who supported me in the development and execution of our goals at the Pharr EDC.”
Contreras added this about his work for the City of Pharr: “I will always cherish the commitment of the Pharr EDC staff, who each day work tirelessly and selflessly to get the job done.” He said he will now work with the Pharr EDC Board of Directors to designate a resignation date.
Mayor Hernandez issued this statement: “We are very fortunate to have had Sergio’s expertise leading our economic development activities. Under his guidance, Pharr has continued to expand its commercial and retail opportunities, enjoy healthy and steady financial growth, and remain competitive as a driving economic force in the region.”
City Manager Guerra said “On behalf of the City of Pharr, we wish Sergio well in his future professional endeavors, and we are confident that in his new role, he will have a regional impact that will benefit Pharr, and the entire Rio Grande Valley.”
Pharr leaders will likely appoint an interim director to oversee the EDC’s operations, and expect to open up the position for qualified applicants to select Contreras’ successor, a news release from the City of Pharr stated.
Looking ahead to his new role, Contreras said: “I am humbled and excited about this new opportunity.”
Contreras was chairman of the RGVP board of directors back when the legendary Bill Summers was president of the Valley-wide chamber of commerce. Contreras said anybody trying to fill Summers’ shoes had a very difficult task. “Bill passed while I was chairman and ever since the RGV Partnership has held a special in my heart.”
Asked if the RGVP was in good financial health, Contreras said: “It does have good financing. It has a good footing. Now it’s my opportunity to make it even stronger, and working with my board and across the Valley.”
Asked if he had any immediate goals for the Partnership, Contreras said he would work closely with its board of directors to develop strategy. “There are many opportunities in the Valley. We have challenges also. I’m glad that the business community has entrusted me the opportunity to take those challenges and opportunities head on,” Contreras told the Rio Grande Guardian. “I am looking forward to ensuring that the Partnership is the leading voice to represent us all for a better quality of life and economic prosperity.”
One of the major tasks the Valley Partnership has taken on over the years is organizing a tour by state legislators. This usually happens in late January in odd-numbered years when the State Legislature is in session. Asked if the RGVP was ready for the next tour, coming up in four months, Contreras said:
“We are very fortunate that our current Chairwoman, Anabel Cardona, has been very, very, involved with the goals of the partnership and in particular the legislative tour. She’s already taken a lead in securing some commitments both from legislators and sponsors. So, I am very confident it will be a successful tour – because of Annabel’s tireless work.”
Contreras added this about the RGVP Chair: “There is something to be said about a chairwoman who heads on her own private business successfully and is able to ensure that the Partnership is focusing on the key projects to ensure they’re productive. My job now is to work with her and ensure that all of our (legislative) delegation is involved. It’s an opportunity to work with municipalities across the Valley and it’s a good start. We’re in a good position to be able to reach out and engage in a stronger sense with our partners. And our partners are municipalities, our EDCs, all of our legislators. They all count. We’re all in this together and we’re all going to go at it together.”
Editor’s Note: Rio Grande Guardian Chief Creative Officer Hutton Edwards contributed to this story from Austin, Texas.
Editor’s Note: The Rio Grande Valley Partnership said a news release about Sergio Contreras’ appointment would be issued later today. As soon as it becomes available we will add comments from RGVP Chair Anabel Cardona to the above story.