Cities and trade groups from across South Texas signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Texas South-International Alliance (TS-IA) to recruit foreign investment and increase exports from the region.
Representatives of Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Edinburg, San Antonio, and San Marcos joined economic development leaders in signing the MOU during a ceremony at the International Center, 203 South St. Mary’s Street.
“Together we can leverage the region’s assets to increase foreign investments and exports to make the South Texas economy even stronger,” said Councilwoman Elisa Chan, who initiated the alliance with support from Mayor Julián Castro. “This strategy will complement each of our traditional economic development efforts by increasing market share.”
The 28-county South Texas region has a population of over 4.4 million people, while another 3 million live across the border in Mexico. In the decade between 2000 and 2010, South Texas counties grew by more than 24%, outpacing the growth rate of the state of Texas and far exceeding the U.S. growth rate of 9.7% in the same period.
South Texas has many unique assets in energy from the Eagle Ford Shale to the peak wind-power generation along the Gulf of Mexico. At the nexus of petroleum production and power generation are forward-thinking utilities investing in the New Energy Economy and water-savvy technology.
TS-IA has received support from Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade and U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access & Compliance Michael C. Camuñez. He had the opportunity to learn about the Texas South-International Alliance while delivering a keynote address to the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce State of Trade Luncheon in October.
“I came away from my recent visit to San Antonio deeply impressed by the city and the region's efforts through the Texas South International Alliance to establish itself as an export center and hub for foreign direct investment,” Camuñez said. “I congratulate the region for its vision, and I look forward to hearing more about this initiative in the coming months and years."
The MOU coincided with the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement and NAFTA20 Summit held in San Antonio. While participating in NAFTA20 on Nov. 15-16, the Alliance will share its vision for economic growth through international exchanges in culture and education and region-to-region trade missions.
“Promoting San Antonio's and South Texas's assets elevates the region on a global level and directly benefits our city by attracting trade and foreign direct investment back to the community and the South Texas region,” said Rene Dominguez, Director of the City of San Antonio Economic Development Department.
South Texas is bound by the U.S.-Mexico border, Gulf of Mexico, and the interchange of Interstate 10 and Interstate 35, making it a key gateway to the Western Hemisphere, North American free trade, and the booming Texas economy. Ranked among the Top 50 regions for Global Trade, and ranks among the Top 10 U.S. Customs Districts for is trade with Latin America.
Across the region, trade thrives via five sea ports on the Gulf of Mexico, 14 land bridges, a North-South and East-West hub on the Interstate freeway system in the country’s seventh-largest city, seven airports, and a future trans-border railroad.
TS-IA will focus on attracting foreign investment, increasing exports of goods and professional services, and strengthening civil society through exchanges in tourism and culture. TS-IA consists of elected officials and the leaders of economic development councils. Its charter cities include Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Edinburg, San Antonio, and San Marcos. Representatives meet quarterly in a different South Texas city.
“By promoting the key assets of the entire region, each city will brand South Texas as a strategic place for foreign investors seeking to build factories or invest in target industries of energy, bioscience and healthcare, logistics, advanced manufacturing and tourism,” said Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez.