Pharr city leaders stand strong in their decision to promote the South Texas border region as a new fresh produce hub. As Gov. Rick Perry did in his trips to New York, Illinois, and California, Pharr officials will travel to Nogales for international trade-promoting.
“Governor Perry came in for a lot of criticism in some quarters but to me it made a lot of sense. He was out there trying to drum up trade for Texas, to get corporations to move their business to Texas,” said Juan Guerra, CFO for the Pharr Bridge Board. “I thought we can do that in Nogales. We can go there and tell the logistics brokers about the advantages of moving their operations to Pharr.”
Pharr’s economic leaders are targeting companies moving fresh produce from the states of Sinaloa and Durango in western Mexico to the east coast of the United States. Shippers are subject to save time and money crossing through Pharr when the new Inter-Oceanic Highway between Mazatlan and Matamoros opens in the fall, so Pharr could swiftly trump Nogales as the No.1 port of entry.
A cohort of Pharr leaders is expected to visit Nogales on Aug. 27 to meet with logistics brokers and discuss the benefits of relocating their efforts to South Texas.
“We want to go to Nogales to introduce ourselves, to tell the brokers about the advantages of moving their produce through Pharr and answering any questions they might have,” Guerra said.
City officials are praising the engineering feat behind the new superhighway and its likely ability to bring a larger, more secure market to South Texas. The inter-Oceanic Highway boasts various bridges and tunnels through the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range in western Mexico, making for smoother passage.
“I was very impressed. It is great engineering. It will be Mexico’s version of the Panama Canal,” said Ezequiel Ordoñez, Pharr’s bridge liaison representative in Mexico.
While the fresh produce industry is a primary target for new business, Pharr can expect to see a boost across other sectors.
“The port of Mazatlan handles most of the cargo coming by ship from Latin America,” Guerra said. “That cargo, if it is headed to the east of the United States, will likely also come across via the land ports in South Texas.”
In either sector, logistics brokers can expect to save about six hours of travel time in transporting goods from Sinaloa and Durango through the Pharr International Bridge and around $1,500 to $1,800 per truckload.
“If you have a lot of trucks, it soon adds up,” Guerra said.
Local residents anticipate a food of traffic, the likes of which Pharr is currently unprepared for. Pharr has already stepped into gear, planning new methods to cope with trade traffic. Some efforts include expanded lanes, new inspection facilities, a larger produce park, an international trade center, and new a connector from the bridge to I-2 and I-69 via Steward Road. City officials are waiting on some federal and state funds to complete every project by their deadline.
“With the projected growth in truck traffic, we want to get ahead of the curve, to be ready. We want to become the most efficient crossing port on the southern border, so we are working with Mexico and with our own elected officials to make sure we have the infrastructure in place,” Guerra said. “We believe the heart of the Rio Grande Valley’s international economy will be in Pharr. We will be the hub.”
To learn more about the benefits of transporting your goods through the Pharr International Bridge, contact the Pharr EDC produce sector experts at 956.402.4EDC.