By Roberto Hugo González
The Rio Grande Valley recently witnessed a landmark event, “CEOs Unite, Let’s get Uncomfortable: Economic Data Team”, bringing together top business leaders and key stakeholders. This forum, spearheaded by Futuro RGV in collaboration with the Hidalgo County Prosperity Task Force, South Texas College, and RGV Partnership, focused on a crucial dialogue about the economic and educational landscape of the region, addressing the challenges faced by business leaders and charting a course for future growth.
Mario Reyna, representing the Hidalgo County Prosperity Task Force, kick-started the event. His opening remarks set the tone, celebrating the Rio Grande Valley’s achievements over the past 25 years and projecting a vision for its future growth. Reyna’s comparison of the region’s development to a rocket gaining momentum resonated with the audience, highlighting the shared belief in the Valley’s untapped potential.
The spotlight then turned to three influential figures: Jim Collins of Mayfair and Rioco Partners, Val LaMantia from L&F Distributors, and Joaquin Spamer, president of Commodities Integrated Logistics (CIL) a logistics company that offers services along the Mexico-U.S. border. Founded in 1991, CIL offers the following services: Import, Export, Warehousing, Distribution, Transportation, Customs services, and Door-to-door delivery.
CIL uses automated systems to help clients with the international trade process. They are strategically located in the Reynosa-Pharr port of entry.
CIL recently inaugurated the McAllen Nearshoring Campus Industrial Park, part of an initiative to boost economic development in McAllen. The industrial project is an investment of $120 million.
The three speakers are known for their significant contributions to the community. Their insights into the Valley’s future, particularly Spamer’s involvement with the McAllen Nearshoring Industrial Park, symbolized innovation and progress, offering a glimpse into the region’s promising future.
Spamer’s narrative, starting from his early entrepreneurial ventures to his current significant contributions, underscored a critical distinction between entrepreneurs and administrators. His story of securing a $330,000 contract at 23 with just a business card and a positive attitude exemplified the entrepreneurial mindset – proactive, solution-oriented, and resourceful.
Spamer emphasized the need for a dynamic approach toward economic development, contrasting it with administrators’ more static, organized methodology. He proposed that entrepreneurs set goals, chase opportunities, and solve problems as they arise rather than waiting for a perfect set-up. This approach, according to Spamer, is crucial for the RGV’s industrial revolution, especially in the context of the McAllen Nearshoring campus.
A central challenge highlighted was the lack of recognition of the Rio Grande Valley on a broader scale. Spamer shared an anecdote about a business meeting in Memphis, revealing how even seasoned business professionals were unaware of the RGV’s location and potential. This lack of awareness presents a significant hurdle in attracting industry and investment to the region.
Spamer stressed the importance of a unified marketing strategy involving private and public sectors. He criticized the current fragmented approach, where different entities operate in silos, leading to inefficiencies and a dilution of efforts. He advocated for a cohesive, strategic approach where each entity contributes to a unified vision of promoting the RGV.
The proposed solution involved two key strategies: creating synergy among various economic development activities and devising a comprehensive marketing strategy. Spamer called for a census of businesses and economic development spending, aiming to maximize the impact of these investments through coordinated efforts. Additionally, he suggested a segmented approach to marketing, where different regions and sectors are targeted by entities best suited for those areas, thereby ensuring a more impactful and coherent representation of the RGV.
Spamer concluded with a powerful message about changing how to sell the RGV. He emphasized the importance of positive representation to counteract negative perceptions. He advocated for a collective identity where individuals and organizations identify first and foremost with the RGV, transcending local affiliations.
The “CEOs Unite: Economic Data Team” event marked a significant step towards a unified vision for the Rio Grande Valley’s economic future. It highlighted the need for collaboration, a proactive approach to problem-solving, and a unified marketing strategy to elevate the region’s profile. The forum set the stage for a concerted effort by leaders across various sectors to work together towards the common goal of economic prosperity and growth in the Rio Grande Valley.