MCALLEN, Texas – McAllen Economic Development Corporation has had a good year helping manufacturing firms expand or start operations in Reynosa, says its president and CEO.
Keith Patridge said a recent announcement by the City of McAllen, that it has the funding in place to build the facilities to allow fully-loaded trucks to cross Anzalduas International Bridge, has helped.
“A couple of weeks ago, the city made the announcement that the Anzalduas Bridge was going to become commercial. As a result, we have really seen, all of a sudden, companies that… there has been a marked increase in the number of new projects for Reynosa and it is both from existing companies and new companies that are looking at the area.”
What that means, Patridge said, is that a lot of the companies in Reynosa are now looking at the U.S. side for second plants.
“They are looking at opening support plants for their operations in Reynosa. I think that is going to continue. You are going to continue to see that but we are also seeing a lot of foreign companies coming in. China and other countries are looking at this area too.”
Patridge ran through a few examples.
“We have a company, not a Chinese company, a U.S. company that is moving production back from China called Eberhard. They make locking systems, different kinds of security products. And they have already established or are already operating… they are relatively small, I think they have 100 employees right now but they are just getting started. They will be growing substantially, very quickly. That will be in Reynosa.”
Patridge also pointed to Kimble Electronics, which recently announced it was building a new 250,000 square foot plant in Reynosa. It is now under construction. And another is Woodcrafters, which is building another 500,000 square foot plant in Reynosa. “Those two companies will end up employing another 2,700 employees,” Patridge said.
The latest listing, provided by Ralph Garcia, MEDC’s vice president for Mexican operations, shows six new projects in Reynosa.
“Those six are are currently negotiating land purchases for construction or are about to start constructing their new buildings. They should start construction, we expect, in the first half of 2022, although some of them may slip a little bit later. But, those six companies will construct an estimated 3.7 million square feet of space. That is new buildings, with an employment of about 7,500 when fully operational.”
Impact of the new mayor
Patridge said it has been exciting to work with a new, younger, economic development team that came in with the election of Carlos Victor Peña Ortiz as mayor of Reynosa.
“They are very young, in their early 30s or late 20s, and they report to the mayor. We are kind of excited about seeing the passing of the torch. They are like the age group over here, very concerned about issues like environmental quality and equity. I think it is going to drive the area in a new direction,” Patridge said.
“There are a lot of projects that we are working with that we cannot announce yet that I think are geared towards that environmental sensitivity. It is kind of exciting to see how you can take the pragmatic portion of life and mix it with idealism. You have got to make money and feed the family, that is being pragmatic. You can be really concerned about the environment but you have got to eat. That comes first. But we now have a situation where you have the pragmatism merging with the idealism. Putting those things together so that it makes sense from a business standpoint… it is going to be interesting how that develops. That is the road they are on.”
Patridge noted that the “sensitivity” portion or the “feeling” portion does not put food on the table or a roof over one’s head. “But, there is a point where you blend the two,” Patridge said, gesturing with his arms stretched wide. “Right now they are kind of over here and we are kind of over there because we have kind of been here and done that. I think that is kind of the way the world is headed and I don’t think that is bad. Somehow we have got to meet in the middle. And so I think it is going to be interesting to see how that develops.”
Patridge said the fear of violence across the border has waned, which has brought confidence to potential investors.
“The violence is waning substantially, so much so that you do not really hear about it much. It does not mean it is not there. It just means it is (largely between) organized crime now, again. So, now we are seeing companies ready to invest again.”
Asked how many people now work in Reynosa maquiladoras, Patridge answered: “It is around 145,000. There were about 15,000 employees when we started.”
Patridge added: “We look forward to working with Reynosa because I think it is going to be fun, working with this younger generation.”
Editor’s Note: The above news story is the third in a three-part end of year review of the work of McAllen Economic Development Corporation. Click here to read Part One and click here to read Part Two.
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