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CK Technologies opened a manufacturing plant in Brownsville in 2011. Over the past five years the company has increased the number of employees at the plant from 30 to 173.

BROWNSVILLE, RGV – The president and CEO of Texas Economic Development Corporation says the growth and diversification of the Rio Grande Valley economy is a sight to behold.

Tracye McDaniel
Tracye McDaniel

Traceye McDaniel spent two and half days in Brownsville last week, touring the STARGATE project at UT-Rio Grande Valley, the Port of Brownsville, CK Technologies and the intended rocket launching site for SpaceX on Boca Chica Beach. She also gave a speech to economic development and business leaders at Valley International Golf Club in Brownsville, an event sponsored by Brownsville Economic Development Corporation.

The Texas Economic Development Corporation promotes economic development in Texas on behalf of the State. TexasOne is a program TEDC created for the purpose of marketing and promoting Texas as a premier business location.

“What is going on in South Texas is amazing. You see companies like CK Technologies that is becoming part of the fabric of this community, that is growing this community and growing jobs here. I was able to have a tour of their facility yesterday and it was just amazing, some of the things they are able to do,” McDaniel told the Rio Grande Guardian, at the end of the Brownsville EDC luncheon.

“We were also at the Port of Brownsville, looking at the development there. Looking at AmFels and what they are doing when it comes to the oil and gas industry and some of the impacts the company will have. Just understanding some of the advantages the companies have to grow, and then the challenges. We want to be close on the ground to understand what affects our companies. That allows us to be better partners.”

Griselda Muñoz
Griselda Muñoz

McDaniel said she was pleased to meet so many Valley business leaders and public officials who were helping to transform the local economy. “These are individuals who make investments each and every day in our great state, in Brownsville, creating jobs and brining capital investment to the area,” she said.

McDaniel pointed out that she left Texas at one point to help grow economic development in New Jersey with Gov. Chris Christie before returning a little over a year ago. She said this was her first in-depth visit to the Valley for nine years.

“A lot has changed. I see a lot more retail development that I saw before. Just to see the focused initiative of business leaders, understanding their strategies and approaches to growing a community… it looks like these guys have done a very good job of making that growth happen,” McDaniel said.

“I am so pleased to be back here. Listen, Brownsville is home to SpaceX and the SATA Group. These are big projects that other states envy us having. To be able to attract companies like that, it is just nice to see that type of development happening in this area.”

Among those to attend the Brownsville EDC event were Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez, Harlingen Economic Development Corporation executive director Raudel Garza, and Mission Economic Development Corporation executive director Alex Meade.

CK Technologies

CK Technologies is a market leader for the injection molded bumpers, grilles, roof fairings and chassis skirts it makes for heavy trucks and buses. With incentives from Brownsville EDC and the Texas Enterprise Fund, the company opened a manufacturing plant in Brownsville in 2011. It has increased its number of employees in Brownsville from 30 in 2011 to 173 today.

Griselda Muñoz, human resources manager for CK Technologies, testified at a recent Texas House joint committee hearing at UTRGV in Brownsville recently. The hearing was hosted jointly by the House Committee on Business & Industry and the Texas House Committee on International Trade and Intergovernmental Affairs. Muñoz said her company was pleased to have moved to Brownsville but said it was quite a challenge in the early days to get the skilled workforce it needed. There was a shortage in workers with skills in technical programming, robotics, and injection molding processes, among others, Muñoz testified. She said he company solved the problem in part through developing in-house training.

About TexasOne

McDaniel said TexasOne started in 2002. “It was one of the first initiatives that was created in Texas to bring in the private sector, bringing them to the table with the public sector to do economic development. It is probably one of the most aggressive programs back then, where you saw state resources dwindling when it came to marketing a state and bringing the private sector to the table. So, it is a strong initiative and it has been modeled throughout the country.”

Asked if other states have tried to emulate TexasOne, McDaniel said “absolutely.” She also pointed out that TexasOne does not access public funds. “The majority of the funding comes from privately owned businesses, Fortune 500 companies, economic development organizations from around the state. So it has no publicly appropriated funds.” However, she said, the entity does work closely with the Governor’s Office. “We support Governor Abbott’s economic development strategy on attracting jobs and industry to our state, and foreign direct investment.”

Asked if Brownsville EDC’s membership of TexasOne helps it secure potential trade deals, McDaniel said: “That is a fair comment. They have been one of the founding investors in TexasOne since its inception. So, it allows them to go out and have access to marketing, go to different markets and countries around the world. It gives them the opportunity to sit at the table with decision makers who are creating jobs all over the country. So, those are the opportunities that we make available to our supporters.”

Hannover Fair

McDaniel said she personally did not go to Hannover Messe, the world’s leading trade fair for industrial technology, this year. However, she said TexasOne did send a delegation. Among the South Texas entities to attend were Brownsville EDC and South Texas College. President Obama also attended.

“The Hannover Fair is a big deal because we have several U.S. states that are a part of it. There is a U.S. Pavilion. This year, Texas did a great job in mobilizing dozens of Texas communities that went to the fair. Many people in the Governor’s Office were able to join the fair to promote business. It is a focus on industry that is very important to the state and so we wanted to make sure we were represented. TexasOne funds these types of initiatives to support members of the Governor’s economic development and tourism team to go. It is one of the largest fairs in the world. It is very important to manufacturing, automotive and so many of the things that are important in the emerging sectors for Texas,” McDaniel said.

Told that Carlos Margo, an associate dean at STC attended Hannover Messe at the invitation of German-based robotics manufacturer Festo, McDaniel said: “I really love hearing about collaborations between community colleges, higher education and industry, working together to keep our workforce skilled and competitive. I think Texas has a good advantage in that. We have programs like the Texas Skilled Development Program and others that allow government to work with industry to make sure our leaders and our employees are competitive in the workplace.”

Texas Enterprise Fund

Although TexasOne does not get involved in the appropriation of funds from the Texas Enterprise Fund, McDaniel said the group was supportive of CK Industries, SpaceX and the SATA Group securing state incentive dollars.

“We don’t interact with the Enterprise Fund. That is the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism that enters into and administers it. We help market the state, so we identify the opportunities, either through trade visits or other initiatives. You need to have a very integrated approach to do economic development properly to attract jobs and investment. So, when we are out on international missions, trade shows, all over the country, we make sure we bring information back to Texas so our communities can use it. And we have several groups that join us on those trips, like the EDC here in Brownsville.”