By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez
As originally published in Texas Border Business newsprint edition January 2019
Almost three decades ago, I met with Mr. Paul Moffitt; it was a great opportunity. He was a successful professional and board chairman of a leading savings and loan banking institution. I wanted to know more about the twin maquila concept, a topic dear to him and other top movers and shakers of that era.
Moffitt together with community leaders were in a unified effort to create a better future. Before the McAllen Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), there was McAllen Industrial Foundation (MIF), an entity that propelled this area as a leader in maquilas and international crossings.
I was introduced to Moffit by my good friend Jose Garza, he was the president and chief executive officer of Valley Federal Savings and Loan. My idea was to interview as many community leaders as possible to learn what was going on with the twin maquila concept often talked about.
In the 80’s I had a magazine called “McAllen City Magazine,” this publication later changed the name to “Texas Border Digest.” I used to do what I do now, highlight professionals of the region and acquaint everyone with “progress” in the Rio Grande Valley. Today, I continue doing the same as before, highlighting the progress surrounding us.
But to create progress, first, you need to have wise leaders to plan for the future. Moffit was among them, that is why I spoke to him more than three decades ago, and he showed me a window to a future, in which we live today.
“Expansion not Relocation is the Premise on Which MIB Operates” – Paul Moffitt
Extreme foresight, sharp business decisions, and careful planning of the future
First published by McAllen City Magazine April 1987. All rights reserved
The interest in McAllen, Reynosa and the border area by Japanese manufacturing companies was evidenced recently by their visit. The fact that 18 corporate representatives of 15 Japanese companies visited the area is confirmation that we are on the rebound and accelerating at every turn. Though still too early to celebrate and boast, we must allow ourselves the opportunity to recognize, make mention, and even savor the word “progress.” Not only does the word have a beautiful ring to it, moreover, it also rings true.
Although the three factors mentioned – extreme foresight, sharp business decisions,and careful planning of the future – are the vehicles to economic recovery; someone had to operate those vehicles. One of those operators is Paul Moffitt, president of McAllen Industrial Board, a board of select individuals dedicated to expanding the industrial base of the city of McAllen.
Being president of the industrial board and chairman of a banking institution both institutions could very well include long working hours, crowded schedules and hectic occasions, not to mention the intellectual requirement.
At 59, Moffitt has an energy about him that must have been acquired during his successful years in the construction industry.
Moffitt came to McAllen as a teenager and 23 years later was involved in the planning for the future of McAllen. During McAllen City Magazine’s visit with him, Moffitt presented a copy of the original resolution that created the industrial board. It came about because of the combined efforts of the city commissioners, utility board,and the bridge board in 1967.
According to Moffitt, the original objective of the MIB was and still is, to create an industrial job base to expand the economic base for McAllen. “During the past twenty years that objective has brought many industries to McAllen,” he said. “We’ve brought in sewing industries. We’ve brought in electronics industries. We have, for instance, food processing industries that have come to McAllen.”
Many of the companies are extensions of established manufacturers located elsewhere in the United States, and their success rate is commendable according to Moffitt.
“Most of the companies that we have brought all succeeded… we have very, very few companies which have failed. Also, most of the companies we’ve brought to McAllen have expanded since they have come here.”
As an example of McAllen contributing to the expansion of a company, Moffitt cites the W.W. Criswell Co., a maker of air pollution control equipment located in McAllen, recently purchased a section of property in the southwest McAllen industrial zone, to construct a new facility and double the size of the current plant.
The history of the MIB, outstanding as it is, includes several learning experiences.
“We had to learn, in a sense, how to obtain prospects. We had to learn how to provide prospects with the information that they needed to make proper decisions,” says Moffitt.
“Another problem that we struggled with is providing the industry with low-cost land. Almost every industry that comes here can go anywhere they want to…”
Attractive as it may be, low-cost land is not the sole priority for deciding to begin operations anywhere. Other important factors, according to Moffitt, carry their weight in the decision-making process.
“Labor rates are a factor. More or less depending on the amount of labor involved in the product.”
“Transportation is a factor… this is a place where we have a problem simply because of our distance from places,” says Moffitt.
If land prices are an important factor, then the quality of life must also be considered as a force to tip the scales in our favor. According to Moffitt, “We excel in quality of life here, and we have a wonderful city to present.”
Another factor is the availability of good air transportation…”
Along with the apparent energy he possesses, Moffitt is a source of information on the subject of how projects are planned, prepared, and completed.
The impact of the Maquila industry in the Valley is, has been, and will be calculated in terms of jobs provided, but also by its positive influence on business in general.
“In fact,” he said, “we hope they are not unacquainted to the facts, that the Maquila industry is saving jobs, American jobs for Americans…”
He continued, “The Maquila industry is gaining the attention which goes with a gamble that has turned the risks into assets. Many American jobs have time and again succumbed to the final journey offshore in the direction of locations where Americans are few and far between, and the twin-plant program hopes to put in check the number of American companies making that journey.”
Moffitt stresses the MIB is not in favor of the practice of attempting to persuade a manufacturer to close up shop in the Midwest and move all operations to the Valley at the expense of communities in general, and people in particular. “Expansion, not relocation, is the premise on which the MIB operates, in a commendable display of fairness and conscientious business practices,” he said.
We All Can Be Great Ambassadors for The Valley
Moffitt said, “We call can be great ambassadors for the Valley. Through travels, new acquaintances and old friends, most of us possess some ability and opportunity to further the goals of the entire Valley. This, in turn, will add to our personal satisfaction in being a part of the enhancing the quality of life, which every individual may desire, if not for himself or herself, then for family and loved ones.” MCM. All rights reserved.
McAllen – Paul L. Moffitt, left this world on December 12, 2018, at the age of 91. Click here to read Mr. Moffitt’s Obituary.