April 5, 2013

Message from the Chief Executive Officer

Grades and Anticipation…

One of the things that seems to always be a concern for most parents is the time when their child or children come home with report cards. Nowadays, six-week progress reports and semester grades are mailed out to parents. I received the progress reports for my two teenagers this week. In anticipation and hope that they earned good grades, I anxiously opened each of the two envelopes. Unless your child is an Albert Einstein, pure genius and perfection are not expected. I do, however, expect my children to do their best.

Both Josh and Cassi did fairly well this time around, as they usually do. Could they have earned better grades? Maybe, but the question I usually ask them is: “Did you do your best?” If they answer affirmatively, then I am satisfied no matter what the grade. If they hesitate, well, then “Houston, we have a problem.”

This week, Ramiro Aleman, our Manager for Business Development and Lyle Garza, our Quality Control Manager were out a couple of days attending an Economic Development Marketing and Attraction course conducted by the International Economic Development Council. I had the pleasure of taking that course many years ago on my way to earn the IEDC’s Certified Economic Developer designation. I honestly can’t say I remember most of the content that was taught specifically, but I believe the principles learned still carry on in my mind and the action plans I have worked on throughout the years.

Now, I anxiously wait to see what they learned and hope that they can bring fresh ideas into the mix. As soon as they get back to the office on Monday, I think the first thing I’ll ask may be the same question I ask my kids: “Did you do your best?”

Aside from being one of the Boy Scouts mottos, “Do Your Best” should be one of our mantras. I say this because I know these two men have what it takes to be among the best economic developers in the area. They are intelligent and eager to learn; and if they do their best, then I know we are headed in the right direction. As part of doing our best, I believe we should also try to “Be Prepared”.   These are two of the ingredients necessary to help market our community. When we are prepared to discuss the advantages of doing business in Harlingen, we can then put our best foot forward in dealing with prospective clients.

The grade we receive in economic development isn’t always apparent by the landing of a big project. Becoming credible and authoritative on our market conditions pays dividends in the long run.  This can apply to my staff or others promoting our community as well.

Last week, HEDC conducted a site tour for nine real estate brokers and salespersons from the region. Our intent in conducting this tour was to learn and share information about the market and specific properties within Harlingen. I’d like to thank Merced Perez-Trevino, a local real estate broker, for giving us the idea and helping us organize the tour.

Broker tour participants

Based on the feedback received from the participants, the tour was a success. We all gained additional knowledge about specific properties and the brokers gained some additional insight about the community. We have even been asked if we would be willing to conduct the tour on a monthly basis to allow for other members of the Harlingen Board of Realtors to participate. Shane Allen, Executive Director for the Board of Realtors, and I spoke about the tour and its benefits for area Realtors. As one of my Board members recently said, and I’m paraphrasing, “You are training your sales force.” I look at this as a two-way street. The more Realtors know about what we are doing, the better they can promote our community to their clients. Likewise, the more we know about their listings, the better we can promote those properties. I’ve learned over the years that market intelligence is vital to success in real estate. Knowledge adds credibility, which in turn, gives clients confidence in the Realtor or economic developer. Our thanks go out to all the tour participants for the sharing of information. A big THANK YOU also goes out to Texas Community Bank for sponsoring the tour van. Kyle Orgera with Texas Community Bank also served as our driver on the tour.

Our grade for this particular event may not be apparent immediately, but I’m sure that over time this type of marketing activity will pay off for Harlingen.

In other activity over the last couple of weeks, we continue to work on editing the revamped website by updating information and gathering content relevant to site selectors and prospective businesses. The new website isn’t live yet, but it will be soon.

We also conducted a Board of Directors meeting on Thursday. One of the highlights of the meeting was a request made by staff and granted by the Board to increase our marketing budget. Last September, we put together a marketing budget that was rather thin because we wanted to make sure we looked at all the different options available to us to promote Harlingen. The newly-expanded budget will allow us to market our community a bit more aggressively locally and in Mexico. Look for us to have a presence in Viva Texas, a bi-monthly publication distributed to the business community in Monterrey, three times over the next few months. Stay tuned to KURV-AM for some additional advertising as well. Additionally, we will be promoting the community on the web with ValleyCentral.com. We will also continue to place advertisements in some trade magazines and local business publications.

Raising awareness of the advantages of doing business in Harlingen is a main goal in this effort.

Aside from the tour and other marketing activities mentioned, HEDC continues to work with the City of Harlingen on other projects of interest. We also continue to work with several local investors on some projects that we hope come to fruition in the near future. We are following up on leads generated through our affiliations with Expansion Solutions magazine, and with Site Location Partnership.

In conjunction with TSTC and the Harlingen Manufacturers Association, planning has begun on a Supplier Showcase to be conducted later this year. It should be a great opportunity for us to show off the various manufacturing and supply companies doing business here.

Request for Qualification statements for the planning for a new Class A business park in Harlingen have been received and are being evaluated. Our goal is to have a firm selected to conduct this planning exercise by the end of the month. One could say that this is part of our “being prepared” for new ventures.

Yet another effort we are undertaking is the preparation for another event which we hope will be beneficial to brokers, developers, prospective businesses and others interested in knowing more about our market. On April 19th, along with Catalyst Commercial, we will present the first Harlingen Developer/Broker Forum (at least I think it is the first). We will be sharing the results of a Retail Market Study conducted by Catalyst Commercial. We will also give Harlingen Corners, Harlingen Heights, and Cameron Crossing developers and brokers an opportunity to tell others about their respective developments and the opportunities available within those developments. For more information on the Forum, please call our office.

Continue to do your best and be prepared! We’ll try to do the same.  Have a great weekend!

  • Upcoming Events
  • TSTC Skills Development Fund Grant Announcement – April 8, 2013 @ 10 AM at the Cultural Arts Center

 

  • Sam’s Club Groundbreaking – April 10, 2013 @ 2:30 PM

 

 

  • HMA Meeting – April 11, 2013 at HEDC offices at Noon

 

  • AT&T Store Grand Opening (102 Bass Pro Drive) – April 12, 2013 at 10AM

News from around the Harlingen area and beyond

Plans set for new hotel near Bass Pro

Mercedes EDC staff down to 1

Rep. Vela talks farm bill, Mexico water treaty in Willacy County

BPUB rating outlook lowered

Valley’s small cities: We could lose millions

New Toys “R” Us/Babies “R” Us combo store opening in San Antonio

Manufacturing Building Available for Lease 

ProLogis bldg

Valley Industrial Park Building 1

1805 North Loop 499, Suite 110

Harlingen, TX 78550

72,000 Total SF available

24′ minimum clear height

and much more.  Call the Harlingen EDC office for more information at 216-5081.