Valley cities show good solidarity at retail conference in Las Vegas – Rio Grande Guardian

WESLACO, Texas – With cities and economic development agencies in the Rio Grande Valley often operating in isolation from one another, the opportunity to collaborate at a recent trade fair was a fantastic community experience.

That’s the view of Rebecca M. Olaguibel, director of retail and business development for the city of McAllen. McAllen has joined many of the Valley’s other leading cities to have a huge booth at the big ICSC extravaganza in Las Vegas.

ICSC takes place over three days in May each year and aims to connect cities with major retailers and their representatives. The massive Valley booth was operated by the Rio Grande Valley Partnership.

At a press conference at the offices of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council, Olaguibel pointed out that the city of McAllen has been participating in the ICSC for nearly 15 years. The city usually runs its own booth. But this year, Olaguibel said, McAllen is happy to work under the umbrella of the RGVP.

“We ultimately decided to partner and sponsor the (RGVP) booth because we knew it would be an incredible return on our investment. And it definitely was,” Olaguibel said.

Olaguibel said retail is a big deal for McAllen.

“For us in McAllen, retail is our main source of revenue. It feeds our city. It keeps our city running and because it’s very important to us, we didn’t really want to leave (with the RGVP),” Olaguibel said.

“But when you (Daniel Silva, President of RGVP) came with this opportunity, we felt that as a region, a region with endless opportunities on the retail side, we were not going to miss this.”

Olaguibel said she particularly enjoyed preparing for the conference.

“We had several meetings and calls where we were able to collaborate with the other partners in this partnership. We talked about data, we talked about best practices, we talked about what the booth should look like,” Olaguibel said.

“We talked about how we would interact at this booth because we wanted to create a nice and friendly atmosphere. We didn’t want any of our customers to think that we (the different cities in the Valley) were competing with each other because at the end of the day, we all realize that what works for this region will work for everyone.”

Olaguibel reiterated her point. “What works for McAllen works for this region. And what works for this region works for McAllen. We always want everyone to succeed.”

Olaguibel said that thanks to the images displayed at the stands of the various partners, we were able to convey the message that the valley is a “strong economic center”.

“We were very pleased to work with all the cities to make this possible.”

Other cities and EDCs were also represented at the press conference hosted by RGVP, including the City of Weslaco, Edinburg EDC and Pharr EDC.

In a question and answer session, Olaguibel again expressed how impressed she was with the preliminary planning for the ICSC.

“I think we in McAllen really enjoyed all the pre-planning because it gave us the opportunity to get to know our partners and make real connections with the other cities, because we work in such silos, don’t we?” Olaguibel said.

“I mean, our neighbors are Edinburg, Pharr, Mission. But this was a unique opportunity to really build a connection because retail is so personal to each of the cities. And so I appreciate that. We really appreciated all the pre-planning.”

Olaguibel said she and her team were “very happy” to provide McAllen’s photography and other resources to help shape the group’s look and feel, working closely with RGVP’s Fernanda Sanchez and her team.

“Curating this booth and this look was exciting for us because we were able to share our best practices and learn what other cities are doing to attract development and investment,” Olaguibel said.

“So we’re always happy to learn something new and to report on it. So once again it was a fantastic experience that brings the whole region together and we’re looking forward to doing it again.”