Monday, September 20, 2010

McAllen hires consultant to lure big fish

September 18, 2010 10:20 PM

McALLEN — City leaders hired a consultant last month to help them attract a top-flight retailer that may occupy the current site of Boeye Reservoir.
While McAllen already boasts numerous big-box stores, the city wants to attract a more select breed for the location near La Plaza Mall and Expressway 83, such as Bass Pro Shops, the big fish Harlingen has been angling to land for years.
The consultant, Retail Attractions of Owasso, Okla., inked the roughly $116,000 contract Aug. 31, according to a copy of the agreement. McAllen will also cover approved travel expenses and pay the company a bonus for each retailer that opens a McAllen location.
While the city already has an economic development corporation and a chamber of commerce working to improve the local economy, it needs someone focused on finding top-flight retailers, Mayor Richard Cortez said.
“Instead of waiting, we wanted to be proactive in contacting those we felt would complement our retail industry here,” Cortez said.
The Boeye Reservoir property, near La Plaza Mall and Expressway 83, might be attractive to a Cabela’s, Costco or Nordstrom, Cortez said. During a speech last month, he also suggested Simon Malls, which owns La Plaza, might be interested in the land.
Sales tax drives city spending, providing the largest share — 41 percent — of McAllen’s general fund. A top-flight retailer would likely attract customers from across the Rio Grande Valley and other businesses, fueling city coffers.
In recent months, the recession and stagnant economy have hurt local tax receipts, leading McAllen to cut its budget 4.3 percent for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
But despite the problems, McAllen has fared better than many Texas cities, thanks to spending by Mexican shoppers and steady local growth.
As the national economy improves, McAllen will ...
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