EDINBURG, Texas – The executive director of Edinburg Economic Development Corporation says he has heard projections of his city having a population of nearly 150,000 by 2040.
Raudel Garza, pictured above, pointed out that Edinburg’s current population is 102,000.
“Twenty years from now they’re talking about us being, in 2040, probably close to 150,000. In terms of our city limit population, the area is going to continue to grow. And, we’re at about 1.2, 1.3, million right now in our metropolitan statistical area. We’re probably going to be at 2 million in 20 years, if not more. So. It’s exciting.”
Garza agreed to a video interview with the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service immediately following a meeting EEDC held organized with local realtors. In the interview, Garza spoke about Edinburg’s growth, the incentive packages the city can offer to attract new business, and the upcoming ICSC Show in Las Vegas.
Asked why the EDC wanted to meet with local realtors, Garza said: “It’s important for us because we want to put Edinburg in its best light. And the way to do that when we’re going to a conference or convention is to make sure that we have all the information possible. And so one of the things that we wanted to do in preparation for the ICSC Show in Las Vegas is to make sure that all our real estate stakeholders have enough information about what we’re doing. And we have enough information about what’s going on in their listings, their properties and their projects as well.”
ICSC Las Vegas
ICSC stands for International Council of Shopping Centers. Its top event of the year, ICSC Las Vegas takes place May 21-23 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Many economic development corporations from across the Valley will attend.
Because Edinburg and the Valley are growing fast, the larger retail franchises are now taking a look, Garza said.
“It makes more sense because we’re larger in terms of population. Our income levels have grown over the years. And so that’s the kind of thing that developers and retailers are looking at, that disposable income. So it’s very important for us to get out there,” Garza said.
“And why retail? Because it’s a quality of life issue. When we are attracting our manufacturers and were attracting the office users that we want to attract that pay the higher paying jobs, a lot of those folks are looking at the quality of life. Quality of life factors include the green space that we have to offer, the bird watching, the camping, the sailing, the fishing. All of that is great. But it also includes making sure that people have the needs that that they are looking for in terms of restaurants and retailers.”
One of the things Garza and his staff wanted to get across to the local realtors is all the data that backs up their contention that Edinburg is growing fast.
“We wanted to make sure that they understood is that Edinburg is going through some explosive growth right now,” Garza explained.
“Our residential construction numbers are through the roof right now. For the first three months we have had almost $50 million in construction in both multi-family and single-family residential. Then, on our commercial side, $37 million for the first three months plus another $13 million in renovations. So, existing companies are growing and new companies are coming in. That’s a lot of retail, a lot of office space, a lot of institutional space.”
Edinburg Mayor Ramiro Garza attended the meeting with local realtors. Mayor Garza pointed out while Edinburg’s population growth about two percent a year, sales tax revenues are much higher. Which tells us Edinburg is bringing in more people to shop or disposable incomes are rising. Or both.
Asked to comment, Raudel Garza said:
“Our unemployment is second lowest and the Rio Grande Valley, 5.3% percent for the last couple of months. And it’s going to continue to be one of the lower ones in the Valley because we have that strong growth. Our hospitals are continuing to expand. Driscoll is going to be opening up over 190 beds or so. That facility is going to hire a lot of people and so that’s going to continue to play a part in our lower unemployment rate. And they pay higher salaries so those folks have disposable income.
“So, the growth in Edinburg has just been phenomenal over the last couple of years and our retail sales tax has continued to grow. Right now we’re at 14% above the same month last year. Eight percent above, year-on-year to And that’s after we had double digit growth last year. So you add all that up and you continue to see sales tax growth that’s higher than our population growth, which means that people from outside are coming in or we’re getting our incomes that much higher, and we’re spending that much more.”
Another important part of the equation is installing the infrastructure to cope with the growth. It is a point Mayor Garza makes when discussing the surge in new residential properties.
Raudel Garza agreed.
“We have close to 4,000 residential lots that are in the process of being subdivided and platted or are already platted. And so that’s going to mean a lot more growth, a lot more population, a lot more demand for the services, for the water, the sewer, the sanitary sewer, and even telecom. All of that means that we have to prepare for that. And the city is working on the expansion of water capacity through new water towers, water treatment plant expansions and infrastructure in terms of the extension of utilities,” Garza said.
“So, we want to make sure that we’re preparing not just for the current growth, but future growth as well. Transportation, we’re looking at expanding certain roadways that are minor or major arterials so that people can move through the city faster and with less hiccups and headaches. So yeah, that’s all part of the growing pains that we go through, but we’re excited about it.”
Garza said Edinburg EDC does some things to help market properties for landowners.
“Also, we do incentivize retailers or we incentivize the end users for office space, if they meet certain qualifications, obviously. And one of the programs that we’ve come up with is a recruitment program which is basically a sales tax rebate. A percentage of the sales tax that they generate can go back to the retailer based on certain criteria, certain factors being met.
“So we look at capital investment, we look at job creation. We even look at how they get involved in the community. And then the number of sales that they generate. And so based on all those different factors, we’ve tried to establish something that is equitable for the mom and pops and for the national chains. And so that’s part of what we were doing, and again, sharing some of the information on some of the developments that are going on right now. Some of the office space that’s available, some of the lease spaces available for retail, and then the land that’s available for future development as well.”
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story had a quote from Raudel Garza about Edinburg EDC wanting to put “Harlingen in its best light.” This was a typo. It should have said the EDC wanted to put “Edinburg in its best light.” This error has been corrected.
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