McAllen – A McAllen businessman would like to see city administration, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, and the McAllen Economic Development Corp, scrap the $300,000 allocation for “Amigos Always” marketing campaign, and use those funds to hire a security team to protect areas of Mexico, particularly the highway between the border and Monterrey that’s become riddled with crime and violence.
Jesus Gonzalez, owner of NIU Urban Living, expressed this need at a FUTERO McAllen forum discussing McAllen’s retail decline from Mexican Nationals. According to Gonzalez, via Rio Grande Guardian, McAllen’s sales tax revenue has dropped 5 million dollars, with experts citing border violence as the cause. Gonzalez even went further with the need for funding by requesting that McAllen double what’s already being spent on Amigo’s Always, which would make the request around $600,000.
Gonzalez went further with his reasoning by stating, via the Rio Grande Guardian
“Shopping is on the decline. We all know that. We need to reinvent ourselves here in South Texas. We have a beautiful beach and a lot of attractions, but not enough to bring in people from other places, such as San Antonio, Houston and Dallas. I have a lot of ideas to make this area more interesting. We need to solve the problem of the traffic and the tourism from Mexico because it is way down,”
“Working with a group of entrepreneurs from Mexico, a small committee, we bounce ideas, we have come up with something we think will work but it requires the cooperation of both governments at the state level and perhaps the local level. Probably more the local level because Austin still does not understand us. We need to pitch in, the private sector. We are willing to help pay for the hiring of private security firms to keep the highway secure.”
While Mr. Gonzalez maybe convinced that border violence is deterring Mexican National shoppers, the decline in retail has been trending across the country, this despite some economic recoveries in many areas.
Accelerating the decline of the brick and mortar empire is the increasing preference of online shopping, led by industry giant Amazon.
Between 2010 and 2016 Amazon’s sales have quintupled from $16 billion to $80 billion. Amazon’s might combined with several established niche online retailers have crippled retail stores across the country. The closing of several Sears stores, coupled with the bankruptcies of Radio Shack, and just recently Toys R Us, are a testament to the change in consumer taste.
Local retail may also be affected by increased competition and change in preferences from competing retail regions. For the Mexican Nationals that do travel for their retail needs, San Antonio’s Shops at La Cantera may offer a more robust shopping experience than the McAllen region can ever provide. McAllen simply can’t compete with the incidental experiences of visiting the San Antonio Riverwalk, or watching elite level basketball with the San Antonio Spurs.
In responding to Mr. Gonzalez’s request for the hiring of armed security force, McAllen Mayor Jim Daring seem somewhat receptive to the idea, albeit under certain conditions.
Via Rio Grande Guardian:
I am going to wait for the Governor (Cabeza de Vaca) to tell me if we can help somehow. I would never presume they cannot do their job. I think everything is on the table. That (private security on the highway to Anzalduas Bridge) certainly could be on the table but I would much rather have Governor Cabeza de Vaca, who I deeply respect… if he wants our assistance I would love to have him talk to us about it.
The sharp decline in retail in the McAllen area is undoubtedly an issue that needs to be addressed, but whether McAllen taxpayers should support an armed strike force operating in Mexico is a proposal that should have just stayed on the Mr. Gonzalez’s scratch paper.