2016: A Big Year for the Border

From thousands of new manufacturing jobs and the opening of the city’s cutting-edge Performing Arts Center to the surprising results of the presidential election, 2016 was a landmark year for the cities of McAllen and Reynosa, a period of significant expansion, progress and change that will continue into 2017 and beyond. As we celebrate for the new year, McAllen EDC proudly looks back on the most important developments of the past year for our two cities.

 

History In The Making

The election of President Donald Trump in 2016 means some big changes are coming to the border — but as history has proven, McAllen-Reynosa adapts well to change. So with a renewed push for American manufacturing high on Trump’s agenda, companies will be looking at places like McAllen-Reynosa to avoid potentially devastating tariffs while retaining access to economical labor in Mexico. 2016 brought big news on the other side of the Rio Grande, too. Tamaulipas, our neighboring state in Mexico, elected a new governor (a U.S. citizen, born here in McAllen), and Reynosa citizens elected their first female mayor.

 

McAllen is bigger than ever ...

With 842,304 people, McAllen’s MSA is now the fifth-largest in Texas, surpassing El Paso in 2016. But, ironically, if you included the other 1,459,673 people that live within an hour's drive, we would be one of the most populous areas in North America, significantly ahead of major cities like Phoenix and Philadelphia. Leaders on both sides of the border are working to fix that. As a whole, our larger South Texas/Northern Mexico region continued down a path of convergent evolution, with plans for creating a single MPO that includes all of Deep South Texas gaining momentum among elected leaders.

 

cheaper than ever ...

As the cost of living across the U.S. rose in 2016, McAllen stood out as the most affordable city in the country — 25% cheaper than the national average.

 

more educated than ever ...

The highly successful RGV Tooling Academy, established to provide the young skilled workers needed by our booming border commerce region, announced a major expansion, and ground was broken on the new Texas A&M center, which will allow students to earn a degree from the flagship school in College Station through courses taken in McAllen.

 

... and, overall, better than ever.

As U.S. News put it so perfectly, McAllen was “one of the Top 100 best places to live” in 2016.

McAllen EDC is working overtime to make it happen. 

In November, Regal-Beloit announced it would be opening its third facility in McAllen, injecting $20 million into the McAllen tax base. And that’s just the beginning. The McAllen EDC team is currently in negotiations to secure seven major companies and more than 2,190 new jobs for the city.

 

Destiny Calls: Major new calling centers come to town

The transformation of Time Warner Cable into Spectrum coincided with one of McAllen EDC’s proudest moments of 2016, the opening of a 700-seat call center to provide customers of Charter Communications with Spanish-language support, a first for the company. Spectrum has converted a former Kmart building in North McAllen to house its McAllen operation, echoing the metamorphosis of a former Walmart into renowned McAllen Public Library (named most beautiful in Texas this year) , which is just across the street. Just down the road, Black Turtle Services will likely employ more than 650 local workers providing customer service in the cybersecurity field. And Abt SRBI, a research company, is already doing important work investigating the Zika virus from its McAllen location.

 

Life is Suite: New hotels left and right in McAllen

Just a year after vacating its longtime location on South 2nd Street (which is now home to the renovated DoubleTree Suites), the Embassy Suites by Hilton Worldwide debuted a brand-new hotel next to the McAllen Convention Center in 2016. The premier facility boasts 150 suites, as well as 12,000 square feet of attractive event space. La Quinta also chose the Convention Center area as the home for its newest high-end hotel, only the third in the nation. La Quinta opened in July. Last but not least, the $15 million Cambria Suites, McAllen’s first successful EB-5 Visa Program project, which broke ground last year, is nearing completion of its 121-suite hotel.

 

A Star is Born: McAllen Performing Arts Center opens 

The eagerly awaited McAllen Performing Arts Center opened the doors of its grand entranceway on Nov. 20, and the reviews have been ecstatic. The $45 million facility, artfully designed and equipped with the latest in live performance technology, replaces the beloved but aging McAllen Civic Center as the premier venue for theater, dance and music events in McAllen.