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Mission meets with developer about Madero bridge project

Members of the Mission City Council met with a Houston-based company Tuesday about a proposal to fund the Madero bridge project.

Mayor Armando “Doc” O’caña, City Councilwoman Norie Gonzalez Garza and City Councilman Ruben Plata met with Emilio Guzman, an executive vice president at Houston-based DC Partners, on Tuesday afternoon.

DC Partners — a real estate development company — funds projects with cash from immigrant investors. Guzman suggested that Mission fund the Madero bridge the same way.

“I think that it creates a great opportunity,” O’caña said.

DC Partners created a subsidiary, Houston EB5, to fund projects through the EB-5 immigrant investor program.

The program allows non-citizens to become legal permanent residents of the United States by investing at least $1.8 million in a business and creating 10 permanent, full-time jobs. The minimum investment drops to $900,000 in places with high unemployment.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, approved the Houston EB5 regional center in 2011.

“By being a fully integrated firm, and having our own projects and our own regional center, people really trust us,” Guzman said. “Especially from Latin America and Mexico. Because 98% of all the regional centers, they just fund projects for a third party.”

DC Partners built luxury condominiums, hotels and other projects with EB-5 funding, Guzman said, which allowed 1,300 people to obtain green cards.

“We’re the number one regional center in Mexico and Latin America,” Guzman said.

The city of McAllen, which created an EB-5 regional center to solicit foreign investment, partnered with Houston EB5 in 2019.

Guzman said he wants to explore a partnership with Mission to partially fund the Madero bridge project.

Building the Madero bridge is a top priority for O’caña, but Mission simply can’t afford the cost.

In 2019, a feasibility study prepared by Houston-based S&B Infrastructure estimated the bridge would cost $114.1 million.

DC Partners could recruit EB-5 investors, Guzman said, and potentially cover 20% to 40% of the total cost.

“I think that being a bridge project, that would draw a lot of interest from international people to move faster in investing, so we can raise money faster,” Guzman said. “It takes us a year and a half to raise $35, $40 million. So it’s a good opportunity.”

Funding is just one of several major hurdles that Mission faces.

Mission partnered with McAllen and Hidalgo on the Anzalduas bridge. As part of the Anzalduas bridge agreement, Mission promised not to build a competing bridge.

O’caña said he plans to ask McAllen and Hidalgo to either release Mission from that commitment or partner with Mission on the Madero bridge project.

“I told Jim Darling and I’ve already told Mayor Villalobos, I don’t have a problem with the Anzalduas bridge board handling both bridges. I don’t have a problem with that,” O’caña said. “But it’s not going to happen that we do all the work and then you all come and regulate the management and operations. That I have a problem with.”

Mission must also convince the Mexican government and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to support the project. They would operate customs stations on both sides of the bridge.

City Manager Randy Perez said both the Tamaulipas state government and the Mexican government support the project.

Perez said Mission would follow up with DC Partners during the next few months.

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