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PHARR, RGV – Representatives from City of Pharr, Texas, and Culiacán, Sinaloa, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which they call the “Global Cities Economic Partnership Pharr-Culiacán.”

Under the MOU, the two cities promise to work in a coordinated way to reinforce the business, commercial, and friendship ties they have.

Mayor of Pharr, Ambrosio Hernandez, and the Mayor from Reynosa, Maki Ortiz (an invited guest at the event), were absent. Pharr Mayor Pro Tem Roberto “Bobby” Carrillo stood in for Mayor Hernandez.

Mayor of Culiacán, Jesus Antonio Valdes Palazuelos considered the new connection as a bridge for understanding, commercial trade, friendship, collaboration, and respect.

“In Sinaloa, we are entrepreneurial people, very productive ones, so much so that we provide food for more than 40 percent of Mexico’s population, and that’s the size of the importance of our state,” Valdes said.

He spoke about the support they have gotten from the City of Pharr, Reynosa, and at the Pharr International Bridge board of directors.

“It is from you that we wish to learn the transparency, the efficiency in your services because I believe that (Pharr) is a model city,” Valdes said. “We would like to continue contributing and strengthening this relationship because if you have better logistics and make our products cross faster, that way our products will arrive fresher to the homes.”

He said that businesses from Sinaloa and the Association of Farmers will continue believing in the Reynosa-Pharr border and its local distribution center because both have a lot of potentials.

“You still have 15,000 acres to grow, where more centers can be established, not only for inspection but also for distribution,” Valdes said. “We are thankful for your helping in creating bridges, and not walls.”

Pharr already has a commercial relationship with Mazatlan, Sinaloa.

Acting as Master of Ceremony, the Manager for Pharr, Juan Guerra, said they are united under the same goal to improve the economy of both cities.

He highlighted the work done by the Pharr International Bridge because that bridge takes the second place in the movement of goods.

“We are number two when it comes to business. With these kind of synergies and ties, we will be able to be number one, because is there where we can to be,” Guerra said.

Edgar Delgadillo, Chairman of the Board for Pharr Bridge, said they are still open for plans that help them grow.

“We need to consider the number of trucks crossing into the United States, and the amount of time they take crossing. We are on alert for anything you might need, to serve all of you,” Delgadillo said.

The Reynosa-Pharr Bridge is 5 kilometers long and was open to service in November of 1994, he pointed out.

Guerra gave a shout out to Juan Gastelum, owner of Grupo Jugas, because he was the first one to work as a liaison between Sinaloa and Pharr.

During his participation, Gastelum said the project for Grupo Jugas started as a dream, but now that it is a reality it’s emotional.

“It’s a challenge that started with lots of effort, with many problems on both sides of the border, but that effort and tenacity made it possible,” Gastelum said. “The representatives from Culiacan are very pleased, and I will continue working as an ambassador for you, as I have always done.”

Another businessman who has put his trust in the border city is Heriberto Vlaminck Jr., vice president of Operations for Triple H Produce LLC.

His business started seven years ago in Pharr. He gave preference to Pharr over Nogales, Arizona, because he saw a greater opportunity to market in the eastern United States from a Texas land port.  Vlaminck owns the Smart Cold warehouse, which has 22,000 square feet of storage space, with the possibility to double its capacity.

“We are in charge of distributing vegetables, we work in 12 Mexican states, and we represent 24 Mexican businesses that export vegetables into the U.S. We are almost in all the U.S.,” Vlaminck said.
From December 2014 to date, Triple H Produce has crossed 6,078 trailer-trucks through the Reynosa-Pharr border.

Vlaminck praised the support from the City of Pharr, and mentioned a case when they needed a fast service, and they got it.

“This is a reason why we congratulate you as a city, for the quality of your job, how useful your area is, and the way you solve the problems, both in the city and at the bridge,” Vlaminck said. “I think this is the best way to work things out. Is an example all governments should follow.”

With regard to the North American Free Trade Agreement, Vlaminck asked everybody to work together so a fair agreement can be arrived at. He said that if they work as one and do business together, all parts involved get the benefits.

Mario Alonso Villalpando Ortiz, from the Economic Development office in Reynosa, said that Reynosa was the only city in Tamaulipas allowed to import and export vegetables.

“I am thankful because the economic activity between you two doesn’t only benefits Culiacán and Pharr, but also Reynosa,” Villalpando Ortiz said.

The “Global Cities Economic Partnership Pharr-Culiacán” will be applicable for three years.

Other VIPs present during the ceremony, which was celebrated in the City Hall council chambers,  included Dante Galeazzi, president of the Texas International Produce Association and David Careaga of the Farmers Association in Culiacán.

Editor’s Note: Reporter Marco Solis contributed to this story from Pharr, Texas.