BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – One of the organizers of the popular RGVP commercialization and investment tours says last week’s trip to Brownsville was informative but also a lot of fun.
Marie Garcia said the fun part was the decision to hold the event inside the new Main Event family entertainment center at Sunrise Mall. After the formal speeches and video presentations were over, guests were able to try their luck with the arcade games or play bowls.
“I am pleased to report we are continuing with our monthly commercialization and investment tours and they are going very well,” Garcia said.
“It was a little different this month because we did not go out on a bus for a tour of the properties that are available in Brownsville. But we did get to see the city’s new Main Event family entertainment center. It so ideal. It is such a fun and beautiful place.”
Garcia is public relations manager with SAM Engineering and Surveying. She has just been appointed to the Rio Grande Valley Partnership’s board of directors.
The RGVP’s tours take in a different city each month. The one in Brownsville was hosted by the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation. “We have this year fully booked and a waiting list for next year,” Garcia said of the tours.
Asked what she liked about the Brownsville event, other than the venue, Garcia said: “Well, we had over 300 people registered. We had a wonderful panel of speakers and great videos. It was a different atmosphere, and a different format. That is what is beautiful about these different tours around our region. Each city, each EDC gets to put in their own personality, they get to host us and welcome us in their distinctive way, with a hospitality that is unique to themselves.”
Garcia noted that the tours are becoming more and more popular, and not just with potential investors and realtors from the Valley.
“We get calls from across the Valley, from across Texas, and from across the country. People are definitely hearing about our tours. It is a great way for leaders from different industries to get together and support and celebrate one another; just to see what is available in our community.”
Asked about her appointment to the RGVP board of directors, Garcia said: “I am truly honored to be given this opportunity. To sit around a table with people that are leading our region with such great vision and such great passion, is amazing. We need to showcase our assets together and the Partnership does that.”
GBIC called their event the BTX Developers Event. Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez gave the official welcome. Opening remarks were given by Sergio Contreras, CEO of Atlas, Hall & Rodriguez and an RGVP board member. Jace Hinderland, whose company, Elm Creek Real Estate, brought Main Event to Brownsville, spoke about future development in Brownsville.
GBIC’s executive director, Helen Ramirez, introduced the video segment. There were videos about the revitalization of downtown Brownsville, growth at the Port of Brownsville, the eagerly-anticipated eBridge Center being built by the Brownsville Community Improvements Corporation, and the Space Channel.
Interviewed after the event, Ramirez pointed out that when GBIC hosted a similar event with the Partnership in 2019 there were 150 people registered to attend. This year the number doubled. Asked what feedback she received, Ramirez said:
“Everybody is talking about a feeling, a movement, an energy. Let’s start with that: the energy. Sometimes we are fighting against ourselves, right? Do I deserve this? Am I going to be successful? Everybody who was present today was saying, yes, we can. You feel it. It is an excitement. It is momentum.”
Ramirez said GBIC’s role is to keep that momentum going.
“I think that is the commitment that I see from many of our regional partners. It is not only job creation. It is also new types of sectors, of businesses that have not been here traditionally. GBIC has a collaboration with CODEM, the Matamoros economic development committee. It is all about relationships, momentum. UTRGV has been a great partner. Texas Southmost College, BISD, they were all present here today. That speaks volumes. So, we are all looking to help our existing inter-generational workforce, from elementary to high school, community college, four year university. We should be very proud.”
Mayor Mendez agreed. Interviewed after his opening remarks, Mendez said the atmosphere at the event reflected the mood about Brownsville generally.
“Oh, the buzz is great. People are excited about the things we are doing. I was in a meeting yesterday with somebody and they said that they travelled to an international conference and the people at the conference knew where Brownsville was. They knew all about Brownsville,” Mendez said.
“Before, whenever we traveled in state or out of state or even outside of the country, when people asked, where are you from, you’d say Brownsville and they would ask, well, where is that and what is the closest city. Now, what we are finding is, when we say we are from Brownsville, people already know where we are from. That is certainly a tribute to what we have done, certainly a tribute to SpaceX as well and some of the great things they are doing here.”
Asked about the RGVP-GBIC event, Mendez said:
“Well, it was a developers event and for us it was exciting because we got to talk about Brownsville. We got to talk about the good things that are happening in Brownsville. You heard me talk about the Madeira development, which is a billion dollar development. Currently, the City of Brownsville has about $7 billion in assessed taxable value. So, you are looking at a project that is going to add about 14 or 15 percent to our total value in just one project. It is a master-planned community, something we certainly look forward to having more of.”
Mendez said the Madeira project has had an immediate impact.
“It is a project that is already breaking ground and has already sold all of the lots in its initial phase, which is incredible.”
Mendez predicted the developers event will pay dividends for Brownsville.
“This was a chance for us to have an audience of developers from around the Valley and even from across the state and to let them know that Brownsville is open for business, that we have worked really hard over the last couple of years to improve our development code, to make it easier and more streamlined for people to be able to open a business. We are seeing the fruits of that labor. We are seeing all sorts of increased development this past year alone. We saw over $200 million in residential and commercial construction which is far and away the best year we have had in a long time.”
Mendez acknowledged this is “an exciting time for Brownsville and a great time for me to be mayor.”
Mendez added: “Overall, I really think that things have fallen into place for Brownsville. We have the right people in place, we have the right leadership in place, most importantly, a vision that is being executed, and I only see it getting better.”
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