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Victor Pérez’s Visionary Leadership Steering Economic Growth and Community Prosperity

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By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez

As originally published in Texas Border Business newsprint edition June 2023

Victor Pérez, M. Ed., possesses a remarkable set of qualifications as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Pharr Economic Development Corporation (PEDC), making him an exceptional and unparalleled professional to spearhead the economic development of the City of Pharr. His educational background and extensive business experience combine to form a solid foundation for his leadership role.

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With the support of the Chairman, Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez M.D. and the PEDC board, Pérez has been instrumental in driving a remarkable transformation of the city within a relatively short period. Collaborating closely with the city’s visionary leaders, he and his team have actively worked towards achieving their shared goals. The city’s achievements have been abundant, and there are still more to come.

While having capable leaders in prominent positions is crucial, the presence of a professional with practical experience is equally important to yield favorable outcomes. Pérez boasts an impressive academic and business background. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Texas and a Master’s in School Administration. However, he emphasizes that the majority of his expertise comes from hands-on experience in various roles. He has served as a city council member, a former school board member, a former judge, and a member of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council (LRGVDC), for eight years.

Pérez highlights the eye-opening nature of his involvement in the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council, where he gained invaluable insights into the diverse needs of communities and how to effectively allocate funding. This organization secures funding from state and federal entities to support community projects. Furthermore, his participation in the LRGVDC Board has enabled him to comprehensively understand economic development.

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“As I alluded to before, my education has empowered me to believe in my potential to make a substantial difference, particularly in my hometown. Equipped with the entrepreneurial skills inherited from my family of business owners, I feel confident in this endeavor. My prior engagement with state and federal officials during my two-decade-long public service has enriched my network and perspective.”

This synergy has played a pivotal role in guiding him to drive the Pharr EDC successfully, in conjunction with the city’s leadership, the mayor, and the city council. “I am grateful for the dedicated board I work with, and our collective effort has been instrumental in initiating a plethora of developments. We have achieved much, yet much is on the horizon. The city is visibly transforming, and you’ll continue to see even more progress,” he stated.

He continued, “I am genuinely elated to be here, and it’s a privilege to contribute to the growth of this wonderful city. There’s a myriad of plans in the pipeline, and I’m eager to see them materialize for the benefit of our great city. With a clear mission and vision, the PEDC aims to enhance business opportunities and improve the community’s quality of life through regional economic development.”

Pérez was clear from the beginning to say, “The primary goal of the PEDC (Pharr Economic Development Corporation) is to enhance the community’s quality of life by strengthening and promoting business opportunities. Our vision is to become the leading experts in the region when it comes to new investments, job creation, workforce development, and education.”

To achieve economic growth in Pharr, the PEDC adopted a strategic approach. They concentrate on boosting consumer spending through business investments and harnessing the region’s valuable resources. These resources include the Pharr International Bridge, the 365-tollway project, the proximity to Mexico, the manufacturing sector in Reynosa and Nuevo Leon, and the expertise of the PEDC staff.

Pérez believes in collaboration. He says that is a vital aspect of inclusive and sustainable economic development, and the PEDC actively engages with local governments, private businesses, and non-profit organizations. “We work towards improving community relations and building stronger relationships with various stakeholders, including government agencies, schools, colleges, universities, and other organizations. Through initiatives like business retention and expansion visits, they identify training needs and connect local businesses with educational institutions to address those needs.”

Janie Cavazos, Property and Business manager; Karina López, Economic Development Manager; Adriana Sarmiento, PEDC CFO: Victor Pérez, M. Ed., President and CEO, Maribel García, Executive Administrative Assistant, and Lilvette Santos, PEDC Foundation Director. Courtesy photo
Janie Cavazos, Property and Business manager; Karina López, Economic Development Manager; Adriana Sarmiento, PEDC CFO: Victor Pérez, M. Ed., President and CEO, Maribel García, Executive Administrative Assistant, and Lilvette Santos, PEDC Foundation Director. Courtesy photo

He explained that identifying key industries and sectors with growth potential is a crucial part of PEDC’s strategy. Pérez points out that Pharr’s flourishing international trade, robust transportation and distribution infrastructure, and rapid growth in sectors such as energy, retail, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, and technology indicate significant opportunities for expansion.

“Supporting small businesses and startups is a priority for the PEDC,” Pérez stated. For that, they have implemented two programs to assist small businesses: the PEDC Small Business Grant, which provides reimbursement grants for equipment purchases, working capital, signage, and more, and a partnership with Lift Fund to offer low-interest loans. These initiatives aim to support local small businesses, help them access opportunities, and overcome challenges.

Workforce development plays a vital role in the PEDC’s economic development strategy. The organization recognizes the importance of a skilled workforce in attracting and retaining businesses. They focus on developing talent and addressing industry-specific needs through initiatives led by the PEDC and PEDC Foundation.

Pérez emphasizes that the success of economic development initiatives is measured by various metrics, including attracted investments and job creation. In the past 24 months alone, the PEDC has assisted over 20 companies with investments totaling $300 million and has created over 1,000 jobs for Pharr residents and neighboring communities.

Pérez told us that the PEDC is actively taking part in new and exciting projects for growing the economy and building partnerships. He pointed out the Fiber Optic (Broadband) project as a big example, aiming to fix the technology gap and ensure that Pharr residents can connect to the internet.

Mayor Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez, known for his leadership, hard work for the public, and deep understanding of what the city needs, has been key in bringing this time of connection to Pharr. Pérez stressed how important technology is in the PEDC’s plan for growing the economy. The Broadband project in Pharr is helping to connect families, schools, universities, and colleges, making sure everyone can use technology fairly and helping the economy grow.

Pérez said that among the priorities is that the PEDC actively works toward environmentally friendly development by promoting alternative energy sources and reducing companies’ carbon footprints. This approach attracts foreign and multinational companies while promoting a green economy.

Under Pérez’s leadership, the PEDC anticipates challenges as an essential part of the planning process. Political uncertainty, land availability, supply chain disruptions, and the possibility of future pandemics like COVID-19 are among the challenges the PEDC is prepared to address.

By promoting and attracting new businesses, creating jobs, and generating tax revenue, the PEDC contributes to improving the quality of life for Pharr residents. The PEDC actively promotes participation from all sectors of the community and engages with local programs and organizations. By supporting and participating in community initiatives, the PEDC ensures the benefits of economic growth.

Taking advantage of this conversation, Pérez announced, “We have some exciting developments happening in our city, particularly on the north side of Pharr. First and foremost, several new restaurants are coming to the area, adding to the culinary options available to our residents and visitors. Additionally, we are experiencing growth in the warehouse and cold storage sectors. Currently, a massive warehouse project is underway, with plans to construct a million square feet of warehouse space. This expansion is driven by the increased demand resulting from the bridge expansion and related developments.”

In addition, he said, “South Pharr is also experiencing significant growth, with numerous projects in the pipeline. Our city takes pride in being a ‘first to market’ location, and we have successfully attracted major projects such as Topgolf, CarMax, Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen, and Costco. These ventures bring new and unique experiences to our community, and we continue to actively pursue additional first-to-market opportunities.”

Pérez explained, that aside from commercial projects, they are working towards bringing a school to the area. “Negotiations are underway, and we are hopeful to secure this educational institution for Pharr. Furthermore, we are pleased to announce the arrival of manufacturing facilities, which will contribute to the economic diversity of the region. This is an area that has been lacking in the Rio Grande Valley, and we are excited to bring these opportunities to our community,” he stated.

Pérez added that he established a foundation through the PEDC focused on various initiatives to support the city’s growth and development. He said, “In addition to scholarships, we are prioritizing workforce development, targeting individuals of all ages, including adults, and students with special needs. We are committed to thinking outside the box and implementing innovative strategies to ensure our community thrives.”

He emphasized, that ultimately, all these achievements are a result of the collaborative efforts of the mayor, the city, and the partners. “We are driven by a shared vision and a determination to accomplish our goals swiftly and efficiently. Together, we are making Pharr a vibrant and prosperous city for all.”

As the driving force, Pharr’s economic development plays a pivotal role in shaping the region’s future. By implementing its mission and vision, fostering collaboration, supporting small businesses, promoting workforce development, embracing technology, and prioritizing sustainability, the PEDC aims to create a prosperous economy for the benefit of all Pharr residents. With a dedicated focus on strategic initiatives and innovative projects, the PEDC continues to pave the way for Pharr’s economic growth and prosperity.

“We are driven by a shared vision and a determination to accomplish our goals swiftly and efficiently. Together, we are making Pharr a vibrant and prosperous city for all,” he finalized.

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