MISSION — In their ongoing quest to attract more business, the Mission Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) last week approved a new list of guidelines to entice future commerce with incentive programs.
Last week, city leaders said the programs would help enhance or create new jobs in Mission. The eight programs include programs like job training and tax abatement.
The incentive guidelines will also include state programs like the Texas Enterprise Zone Program, which is designed to create jobs in areas of distress. Because Mission is an area with high unemployment rates compared to the rest of the state, as well as many low-wage earners, the city qualifies for the program.
Some of these programs, like the tax abatement program, have already been established here for a while.
Also at their May 26 meeting, the MEDC discussed potential future uses for a rail service system between here and Tamaulipas, Mexico.
McAllen Economic Development CEO Keith Patridge said McAllen had been working on a Kansas City Southern (KCS) west rail project since the city had been trying to attract an auto plant to the Sharyland Plantation, a joint project with Mission.
The project to develop new rail lines here is still ongoing, currently in its first phase. Attracting a new line with KCS will help the area have a competitive advantage because of the increasing cost of fuel.
“We’re in an excellent location,” Patridge explained.
With not many people taking trucking jobs and the rising costs of fuel, companies are looking to reduce the needs of truck drivers by using intermodal services, which go from the highway to a railroad line locomotive, which often transport in double-stacked fashion on the rail.
“If we don’t have rail, we won’t be able to grow,” he explained. “It’s one of those things you just have to have.”
Patridge said often times these lines will run two trains a day with anywhere from 60 to 80 trailers on the line, getting in and out of the area quicker and easing local traffic along the expressway and busy thoroughfares.
“All this is big-time jobs,” he said. “The companies that use these types of intermodal pay very well.”
Years ago, Patridge and Mission Economic Development Authority CEO Pat Townsend Jr. and then-Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas III visited officials at KCS to see if they’d be interested in developing the line here. While the company wouldn’t give a definitive answer, they said they’d be interested in developing the project with McAllen and Mission.
The potential line would connect from Hebbronville to the KCS line in Mexico. However, the cities would need to work with KCS and Mexican officials to develop lines in Monterrey, Cd. Victoria and Tampico.
This venture could help the area become a shipping hub for businesses because of its central location in the country, as well as its closeness to Mexico. Patridge called it a “third coast” effect.
“Using the ports on the west coast of Mexico, the ports on the east coast of Mexico, bring product in from the rest of the world up to South Texas, where we do North American distribution and then from here we distribute to the customer or the customer’s warehouse,” he explained.
Distributing at a central point here, bringing it from Asia or Europe through Mexico, is a cheaper and faster method than on the east or west coast of the United States.
“You immediately get the cost savings just by using the Mexico ports,” he said. “…This is real economics. This alone is trillions and trillions of dollars.”
Patridge said city officials would work with Hidalgo County leaders to try to bring the project, along with the new jobs and additional revenue, to the area in the coming years.
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