MCALLEN, Texas – The leadership of McAllen Economic Development Corporation is reflecting on a very good year for inward investment, much better than was expected at the start of 2021.

The group has helped bring in five new industrial parks within the McAllen city limits. These parks, covering 468 acres of land and 1.7 million square feet of warehousing and manufacturing space, have brought about an investment of over $100 million and will likely lead to 1,200 new jobs.

“Considering everything we have gone through with the pandemic and then the second tier of the pandemic and the travel restrictions, 2021 has turned out to be a pretty good year,” said Keith Patridge, in an in-depth interview with the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service. 

“We actually have five new industrial parks in McAllen that are either already under construction or will be probably during the first half or early part of 2022. Those five industrial parks amount to about 468 acres of land.”

Patridge continued: “We have now over 1.7 million square feet of new buildings for which we have broken ground, or which are under construction, or will be in the first half of 2022. Conservatively, the investment will be well over $100 million.”

Patridge gave thumb nail sketches of the five new industrial parks.

“First, Abastos Corporation. Elio Botello, the owner, is building the first two new buildings of 172,000 square feet in a new 47-acre industrial park, which is on the northeast corner of Military Highway and 23rd Street. That park is called Warehouse Kingdom Part Two. We are looking at probably 50 to 75 jobs in those two buildings when they are up and going. There will be multiple companies housed there. For this reason it is difficult to say how many jobs will be created,” Patridge explained.

“The second park is also being constructed by Abastos Corporation. They are building a new industrial park called McAllen Palms Business Park. It is located on Old 10th Street, south of the airport. It is a 75-acre industrial park with 25 building lots. All of those 25 lots are already sold. There is expected to be 600,000 square feet of space, with an estimated 200 to 250 new jobs. The park will have stand alone companies.’

In addition, Abastos is taking over a 152,000 square foot facility in Sharyland Business Park. “They will be converting that over to a cold storage facility for multiple clients. We expect 25 and 50 new jobs.” Patridge said he was not at liberty to give the dollar investment of the revamp.

The third new industrial park is to be called McAllen South Industrial Park. It is on FM 1016 on the south side, between 10th and 23rd Street, behind the Stripes gas station on 10th.

“It will be everything west of the housing project, all the way to Warehouse Kingdom,” Patridge said. “It is a 120-acre park that will be for industrial companies and warehouse and distribution. They expect to start construction on the park by the end of the first quarter of 2022. That is just the park construction. There is a lot of investment potential there.”

The fourth new industrial park is to be located on Ware Road and covers 128 acres. “They are currently laying out the streets for this one. We already have two companies that have already committed to 52 acres of that 128 acres. Those two companies are expected to create 750,000 square feet of space for manufacturing and warehousing. They are expected to create an estimated 500 jobs,” Patridge said.

Another company McAllen EDC has been working with is Amazon. “The company is opening a 50,000 square food last mile facility, just down the road here on 1016. You can drive down there and see the trucks with the little smile on the side. That is up and going.”

Another company expanding into McAllen is Cassellus WMC. “This is right across the street from us. You have probably seen the sign. Enrique is starting construction on his eight-acre campus. He will be building his office headquarters and a manufacturing facility. He will start on that with the 35,000 square foot one, first, and phase two is 80,000 square feet, which will be built on the back side of it.”

The “Enrique” Patridge is referring to is Cassellus owner Enrique Castro, of Index Reynosa fame. “He is looking for occupancy in the fourth quarter of next year. That is going to be a really big project,” Patridge.

The fifth industrial park will house a microchip manufacturing operation. The Rio Grande Guardian International News Service has already reported on this. Click here for the story.

To above projects, one can add new and expanded maquiladora operations in Reynosa that MEDC has been assisting with.

And, on top of this, MEDC is working with another 28 to 30 companies that could, possibly, move into McAllen/Reynosa area. It is thus easy to see why Patridge says 2021 has been a good year.

Patridge said he verified his numbers with the numerous companies MEDC works with.

“We appreciate their confidence in the marketplace. We are going to do everything we can to help them be successful. I am pleased with what we have done in 2021. I did not know (how well we had done)… you start getting in the maze on the day to day stuff. I think we have done well, all things considered. And we look forward to 2022.”

Asked if there have been better years than this, Patridge answered affirmatively.

“When we first started in the early 90s there was one year when we ended up with 55 or 56 companies. It was like 20,000 jobs. What is encouraging is that with everything that is going on, we are now beginning to see companies moving and pulling the trigger on these projects. That is a good thing. What we want to do now is build back the relationship we had with Reynosa, pre-pandemic, pre-violence.”

Asked why there is so much development now, Patridge said: “A number of the local investors have heard me complain at board meetings and other places ad nauseam for the last two years about the need for new buildings. They have satisfied themselves that we do not have buildings and land is getting to be an issue.”

Patridge pointed out that there could, potentially, be industrial-type development on the Killam land in Mission and McAllen but only about 300 or 400 acres of that is in McAllen. “Apart from that, everywhere else seems to have been developed. We may have to look for other options because we have companies coming in needing space. These other developers have recognized that and they are saying, I am going to do it. I am going to build. And so they are.”

Another factor to consider, Patridge said, is the impact of the coronavirus.

“When the pandemic started, everybody was scared to death. We were shutting the economy down. We had businesses thinking they were not going to survive. We thought retail was going to be dead because they (the federal governments of the United States and Mexico) closed the border. Oh my God, our Mexican shoppers are not going to come. And, lo and behold, what happened was we found out that, even though the Mexican shoppers were not coming, our retail did not suffer that much. We continued to grow.”

Patridge pointed out that McAllen has hit double digit sales tax revenue growth even during the pandemic.

“That was the local market. So that gave a lot of our businesses hope. They were saying, you know what, Mexico truly is just the gravy. It is not what we depend upon. They have shifted their focus away from, oh my God, we cannot survive without Mexico, to, yes we can. We want to take care of our customers from Mexico but we are big enough now to support ourselves. And the numbers show that.”

Patridge said Matt Ruszczak of COSTEP does a really good job of crunching the numbers on sales tax revenue receipts each month. He said those numbers show the region is not as dependent on Mexico as many business leaders thought.

“And now that the border is open up you are seeing the sales tax revenues explode. So, I think it has given the investment community here this feeling that we have survived this pretty well. Better than some of the bigger areas. If you look at the sales tax numbers, we are.”

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a three-part series on the work of McAllen Economic Development Corporation in 2021. Part One focuses on a new microchip manufacturing plant coming to McAllen. Click here to read the story. Part Three will be posted in our next edition.

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