"Weslaco's Economic Resurgence," Steven Valdez, Executive Director, Weslaco EDC
Centrally located in South Texas, a remarkable transformation is underway in the city of Weslaco. Spearheaded by the leadership of the mayor, city councilmembers, and Steven Valdez, as the Executive Director for the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) in Weslaco, this transformation marks a new era in the city’s industrial, commercial, and residential sectors.
Valdez has been at the front of this resurgence for the past three years. His recent conversation sheds light on the dynamic changes happening in Weslaco, particularly focusing on the industrial growth setting the city apart.
At the center of Weslaco’s industrial boom is the Mid Valley International Industrial Park. Unlike its predecessor, the Mid Valley Industrial Park, this new development incorporates an international flair, reflecting Weslaco’s growing global presence and strategic location on International Boulevard. Initially spanning 148 acres, the park now offers around 125 buildable acres, post-development of essential infrastructure.
The industrial park is already making significant strides, with major tenants like Glazer’s set to open a 253,000-square-foot facility, bringing 200 jobs to Weslaco. Additionally, an undisclosed distribution company is expected to start building in early January, contributing to the city’s employment growth.
Valdez highlights Weslaco’s central location as its most significant selling point. Central from Starr County, Roma, Rio Grande City, Port Isabel, and the Port of Brownsville, Weslaco is uniquely positioned to attract major companies. This geographical advantage, combined with the city’s robust infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, universities, and a growing retail sector, makes Weslaco an attractive destination for businesses and residents.
As the city continues to develop, with construction sites dotting the landscape, it’s clear that Weslaco’s strategic growth and the city’s vision are propelling Weslaco into a new era of economic prosperity.
In this continued exploration of Weslaco’s economic resurgence, Valdez, the city’s EDC Executive Director, digs into the factors that make Weslaco an appealing and accessible location for businesses and residents. The city’s growth is a testament to its industrial expansion, streamlined administrative processes, and booming residential sector.
Valdez emphasizes the ease of doing business in Weslaco, particularly highlighting the city’s efficient permitting process. Planning and Zoning departments meet weekly, allowing businesses to engage with various city departments, including fire and police, before submitting their permits. This proactive approach ensures that businesses clearly understand requirements and processes, thereby facilitating smoother project initiations. This efficiency is crucial, as businesses often shy away from cities known for bureaucratic red tape.
Weslaco’s appeal extends beyond its business-friendly environment. The city has witnessed significant residential growth, with a notable increase in single-family and multifamily housing. This expansion is critical for attracting a robust workforce as more families settle in Weslaco, contributing to a growing, dynamic community.
Understanding the importance of a skilled workforce, Weslaco has partnered with South Texas College to offer training and skill development programs. These initiatives are tailored to enhance the capabilities of the current workforce, making them more adept in their respective fields. This strategic move benefits the employees and adds to the city’s appeal for new businesses seeking a qualified labor pool.
Despite a census count of around 42,000, Valdez believes the actual population of Weslaco, considering a three-mile radius, is closer to 65,000. This higher figure indicates the city’s expansive reach, encompassing the city limits of neighboring areas like Donna and Mercedes.
Adding to Weslaco’s economic momentum are several new developments in the retail and hospitality sectors. A notable project is the upcoming retail space at the corner of Midway Road and Expressway, expected to bring about 100,000 square feet of retail area. Additionally, the redevelopment of the old Palm Plaza and the construction of a four-star hotel and restaurants along the expressway are set to boost the city’s commercial appeal further.
These diverse developments in Weslaco, encompassing business facilitation, residential growth, workforce development, and retail expansion, collectively paint a picture of a city on the rise, strategically positioning itself as a central hub in Texas.
In the concluding exploration into Weslaco’s economic resurgence, Valdez, along with his colleague April Castañeda, Director of Business Development, discusses Weslaco’s role as a regional hub and the city’s future leadership.
Weslaco is not just growing in isolation; it serves as a magnet for surrounding cities. Valdez lists Donna, Mercedes, Edcouch, Elsa, Progreso, Alamo, La Feria, and occasionally San Juan as cities whose residents regularly visit Weslaco for shopping and leisure. This influx is partly due to ongoing construction projects in neighboring areas, which have redirected traffic toward Weslaco, inadvertently boosting its local economy.
The ease of access to Weslaco is set to improve further with ongoing infrastructure projects. Valdez notes the recent opening of an additional lane on a major highway, which has already enhanced mobility. Such developments are critical in maintaining and increasing Weslaco’s appeal as a regional center.
While Weslaco’s official population stands around 55,000, the city’s influence extends far beyond its borders. Including the surrounding towns, the population within a five-mile radius exceeds 100,000. This broader demographic significantly impacts Weslaco’s economy, particularly in retail sales. Valdez highlights that, despite a smaller population, Weslaco’s sales figures compete robustly with larger cities, a piece of evidence of its central location.
As for the future of Weslaco’s leadership, Valdez introduces April Castañeda, the Director of Business Development. With two years under her belt, Castañeda plays a crucial role in marketing and research, vital in attracting businesses to Weslaco. Her focus on understanding the city’s demographics, terrain, and land resources is essential for strategic business recruitment in both industrial and retail sectors.
Both Valdez and Castañeda emphasize the tri-fold growth in Weslaco – industrial, residential, and retail – painting a picture of a city that is not just expanding but thriving in multiple dimensions. With a solid foundation and a clear vision for the future, Weslaco stands as a leader in development and opportunity in the region.