A discussion with the Pharr EDC Director
The bays where patrons will soon take leave are beginning to take form. Depending on who is asked, they might say the 55,000-square-foot facility will be the crown jewel of the area. Soon, as the South Texas sun makes one of its memorable sunsets with the City of Pharr as its backdrop, residents from the city along with residents from the surrounding area will be striking balls in hopes to reach their targets at TopGolf.
The $10 million project is one of many the Pharr Economic Development Corporation, led by Victor Perez, have either began construction or will announce in the coming days. For instance just yesterday the Pharr EDC broke ground on the Pharr Bridge Business Park Reynosa-Pharr, a facility which will serve as a distribution center for companies and will be located conveniently minutes from the Pharr International Bridge.
Perez, an educator by trade, spent a little more than a decade as a member of the city council in Alamo. From there he was a member of the governing board for the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council and is currently serving as a trustee for the PSJA school district.
Perez joined the Pharr Economic Development Corporation a little more than a year ago. Since then he has noticed city leadership have taken the an extra step in being aggressive in bringing companies which in turn will create jobs.
“We were a small town but still business friendly,” Perez compared the Pharr in which he grew up to the Pharr he now has a hand in operating. “The Mayor and the council want to grow and want to be business friendly and go out there be aggressive.”
Perez said the he likes that Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez is aggressive in leading the way for Pharr to be at the forefront of economic stability.
But just as the large companies are making their way to the Hub City, small business are key in making the city successful. And while money is offered sometimes for companies like TopGolf to operate within the city limits the small business is not forgotten.
There are programs in place to help small businesses flourish. For instance, the Pharr EDC will help public relations and advertising.
“We get Ch. 4 out here and we promote their business,” Perez said. “It does not cost them anything, just for being in the City of Pharr and having their business here we help them out.”
The Pharr EDC also uses social media to promote small businesses and not leaving anyone behind, no matter the size of the business.
Under Perez the Pharr Chamber of Commerce was also re-established. The he sees it, if Pharr is going to grow a chamber of commerce needs to be in place.
Factors for being aggressive in recruiting companies to operate in Pharr include being in between Edinburg and McAllen and close to the border.
All highway traffic needs to pass through the Pharr city limits if using Interstate 69 and Interstate 2 if traveling between Edinburg and McAllen. The city also operates the largest produce port in the United States.
“We're in the center of everything,” Perez said. “And everything coming in from up state needs to pass through here and then go east or west.”
MORE JOBS IN PHARR
With all the construction taking place within the city limits more jobs will be available. There will be retail and industrial jobs. TopGolf alone will hire 355 people by the end of 2018. When Carmax comes to town they'll add an additional 150 jobs. At the produce park roughly 200 jobs will be added.
“We're looking a lot of new jobs coming in,” Perez said.
And while he could not speak about the specifics of the project, Perez is courting a venue that will hopefully create 300 jobs.
In five years, jobs will be plentiful in the City of Pharr.
“The way we're going I would say about 3,000 jobs [will be available],” Perez said. “It's about the economy and helping the communities here and the region not only with jobs but other businesses.”
FUTURE OF PHARR
Down the line, say maybe a decade, Perez hopes to make use of the land the city owns. While there are some short term goals it will take a few years to develop the land.
The city owns land on the corner of Sugar Road and Nolana Loop. Perez said they hope to open more retail stores in the area to bring more jobs. Currently retail is their focus. Before the Pharr EDC has assisted in residential projects which will bring about 500 roof tops. Downtown Pharr will see some of the building renovated.
Their partnerships with not only PSJA ISD but also the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and South Texas College helps the economy grow in Pharr.
With South Texas College for example they have created a public safety building. More than $4 million of the funding for the facility stems from $159 million bond passed by voters in the November 2013 elections. Pharr has contributed 59 acres of land worth about $2.5 million and the Basic Peace Office Certification Program will initially be operated in part with the Pharr Police Academy.
All the projects coming down the pipeline in which the City of Pharr and the Pharr Economic Development Corporation have invested time, funding and effort will no doubt be a benefit for their citizens. The jobs will be plenty and the entertainment will be fun. Now the waiting game begins as the venues are completed to be worked and enjoyed.