Valley communities display regional unity at ICSC@Red River

1 week ago 19

DALLAS, Texas – Hanna Solutions, a McAllen-based commercial real estate company, kindly offered to interview Rio Grande Valley leaders attending ICSC@Red River for the Rio Grande Guardian.

We would like to thank Mark, Jeremy, and the team for doing so.

They interviewed 11 Valley leaders and the overriding theme was unity, of working together for the good of the entire Valley. Yes, they were there to look for new retail development for their city but, to a person, in interviews with the Guardian, they also preached the mantra adopted the Rio Grande Valley Partnership (RGVP), One Region, One Voice.

ICSC stands for International Council of Shopping Centers. Its big, national, conference occurs in Las Vegas in May. The Red River event, held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, ran from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2.

ICSC, according to the group’s website, “promotes and elevates the marketplaces and spaces where people shop, dine, work, play, and gather as foundational and vital ingredients of communities and economies.” 

It also “produces experiences that create connections and catalyze deals; aggressively advocates to shape public policy; develops high impact marketing and public relations that influence opinions; provides an enduring platform for professional success; and creates forward-thinking content with actionable insights — all of which drive industry innovation and growth.”

It was the first time RGVP had exhibited at the conference. The group’s CEO, Daniel Silva, said next time their presence would be even greater.

“I think it’s important for us to have all of the communities come together because as one unit, we’re a lot stronger, a lot more powerful,” Silva said.

“Together, we bring more demographic numbers. We can go after bigger dollars. The MPO (RGV Metropolitan Planning Organization) is doing it. The university (UT-Rio Grande Valley) is doing it. It’s going to help the community as a whole, the four county region, if we have the cities come together and focus on goals that we can all benefit from.”

Looking ahead, Silva said he would like the individual communities in the Valley to forgo their own booth at ICSC an work under the Partnership’s umbrella.

“This is our first year of having a booth here for ICSC in Dallas and we want to make sure that we continue to grow this. We want other cities to see the value of not having their own booths, but coming to the Partnership booth, having a space where they can have their meetings and really just be a part of the entire regional push,” Silva said.

Silva said there was recognition from other parts of the state that the Valley was uniting and growing stronger.

“Let’s have one unified front and make it an opportunity for everybody. It’s less expensive for them (Valley cities), they can display who they are, where they come from, and then, I think, it is going to be better for the region.”

Silva added: “The more cities that we have be a part of what we’re trying to do, what we’re trying to accomplish, the stronger we’re going to be. So, believe in the message, resonate the message, work together, no more in-fighting and really just represent the region as a whole.” 

Daniel Rivera, executive director of Elsa Economic Development Corporation, echoed Silva’s sentiments.

“It’s all about the One Region, One Voice, mission,” Rivera said. “Gone are the days where we were competing (against each other). Now we’re collaborating and it’s fun to be part of this.”

Rivera said the Valley is competing against the rest of the state and the rest of the nation. 

“When we look at Houston, San Antonio and Dallas, everyone thinks of those places as big areas. If Edinburg is fighting by itself or Elsa is fighting by itself and Harlingen is fighting by itself, we can’t compete. But together in collaboration, we make a lot more noise.”

Alamo Mayor J.R. Garza said he wanted to thank the Valley Partnership for taking the lead on regional unity. 

“My call would be to join (the Partnership) so that we are one and our numbers are stronger. So that we all come together and we work for the betterment of the entire Rio Grande Valley,” Garza said.

Weslaco Mayor Pro Tem Adrian Farias also praised the Partnership.

“It’s been said, One Voice, One Region. That should be coined because it’s been a long time coming. We needed this for our community,” Farias said. “Working together, it becomes truly a partnership between us. If we’re not working together, we’re failing. But I think the Partnership is doing an amazing job to put this together so we can all come together as one.”

Weslaco Mayor Adrian Gonzalez was visiting an ICSC event for the first time. Asked how important the Partnership’s One Region, One Voice, is, Gonzalez said: “It is really important. About two weeks ago I had a meeting with a couple of our mayors and in the Mid Valley and I was telling them how important it is to help each other. If we grow, they grow, and if they grow. we grow. We have to do it together.”

There is a bigger ICSC event each year in Las Vegas. It takes place in May. Edinburg Mayor Pro Tem Dan Diaz said he would like to see every Valley city forgo their exhibit at the Las Vegas event and utilize instead the Partnership’s resources.

“Today I spoke with a lot of other city leaders that came up here. Instead of having a bunch of different booths, like we have had here in Dallas… for the largest ICSC conference in Las Vegas in May, we’re talking about having a very large footprint under the RGV Partnership umbrella, where we’re all inside that big booth and have everyone come to us instead of everyone fighting for a little bit of foot traffic,” Diaz said. 

“And I can tell you that the energy is there. The commitments are there. So, Las Vegas, watch out because South Texas is going to make a big splash.”

Raudel Garza, executive director of Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, was attending ICSC for the 26th year. Like the other EDC leaders at the event, Raudel Garza preached regional unity.

“The plan is basically to let people know that we do have a lot of opportunities as a region, that we’re stronger together. We’re bigger together. When other people start talking about their market, they can’t say that they have 1.5 million people out there like we have,” Raudel Garza said. “So, it’s very important that we show that strength, that unity, and we just try to do that every day.”

It was pointed out to Edinburg EDC Project Manager Carlos Garza that Edinburg was paying for his presence at ICSC and yet, he was advocating for the whole Valley.

“I believe and a lot of our people in the Rio Grande Valley believe that contributing as a region will help bring more investment to the Rio Grande Valley,” Carlos Garza said. 

San Juan City Manager Ben Arjona said he at ICSC to promote development along I-2. He referred to it as “the golden corridor.” However, he said he was also happy to network on behalf of the region. 

“The Rio Grande Valley needs to be more visible and I think we’re doing a very good job since we have Weslaco, Mission, there are a lot of people here representing the Valley. So anything that we take to the Valley, if we take it to San Juan it is going to benefit our neighboring cities, such as Pharr, McAllen, Edinburg. Whatever they bring in to Edinburg, or the neighboring cities, that benefits us as well, Arjona said.”

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