Economy on the Rise

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Pharr Mayor’s Business-Friendly Approach Boosts City Commerce

There’s something about the city of Pharr. Something in the air, maybe, or the changing look of the city with the addition of businesses like World Market, Costco, and Fazoli’s, among others.

“I think what I’m most excited about is the fact of when I walk down the city streets and meet my fellow Pharr residents, I like to see their smiles — that they’re very proud of their city,” said Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez, mayor of Pharr. “That they, themselves, without me asking, volunteer the fact that they see a difference in Pharr. They feel it. I commonly will get, ‘I feel the energy in Pharr.’”

That energy has manifested itself in a business boom in Pharr, which has brought in companies that have created jobs within the city.

“It actually will add a little bit on our property taxes,” Hernandez said, tallying up more benefits of businesses setting up shop in Pharr. “It will also bring in sales tax, alcohol tax … all that contributes to our economy, and therefore allows us to have more resources to build parks, build roads, build infrastructure, attract other businesses.”

All of those perks add up to perhaps the biggest bonus of all: the ability to lower property taxes in Pharr.

“Because I’m depending on other resources to pay my bills and not solely the property taxes in the city of Pharr,” Hernandez explained. “So that’s one of the most powerful tools that we have.”

These advantages also benefit the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge.

“The more infrastructure we have to help commerce, international commerce, the more traffic goes by,” Hernandez said. “That all comes to the City of Pharr’s bottom line, which, again, frees up taxpayer money.”

New developments — like Top Golf for sports entertainment and cold storage facilities near the international bridge for preserving produce as it enters the country for cleaning and inspection — are broadening the scope of the city’s economy.

“I didn’t realize there was so much business available,” Hernandez said. “I didn’t realize there was so much business that was moving away from Pharr not because there was better options, but because we were turning it away — the fact that we weren’t open to negotiation, we weren’t as customer friendly as we should’ve been.”

Pinpointing this issue has helped open the doors to economic gains throughout Pharr.

“Now we have a system in place that we are absolutely transparent to all business owners and taxpayers so they know exactly what’s happening with their money,” Hernandez said. “We streamline the process so that way, we’re business friendly.”

And that attracts both people and commerce to the city.

Dr Ambrosio Hernandez

“People want to come to Pharr,” Hernandez said. “They actually want to live and play and work in Pharr. They just needed the right atmosphere to be there, to culture it and cultivate it and get it to where it should be.”

Hernandez says he aims for development in Pharr to benefit more in the city than just its coffers.

“We always tell our investors, ‘look, if it’s in the best interests of Pharr, we will absolutely do the deal — whether it’s a public-private partnership, we’ll do the deal; if it’s a straight-up incentive program, we’ll do the deal; if it’s something that helps the citizens of Pharr stay healthy, vibrant, adds culture, we’ll do the deal,” he said. “As long as it makes economic sense to the city of Pharr.”

Hernandez added that he would never make a decision that would add to the tax burden of Pharr citizens.

Hernandez touted the current administration in Pharr for the positive changes in the city.

“I would love to say that it was me, but it’s not,” he said. “The fact that my commission as a whole has been able to put people where they should be by their talents and their skill set — not for political gain — that’s really allowed the employees feel empowered to take off. Now, you see it.”

The “service with a smile” mentality that Hernandez champions — just like the treatment guests get at five-star hotels — has permeated every way city leaders conduct business.

“At the end of the day, the taxpayers are paying all employees their salary,” he said. “And they represent us. So they have to show that we are business friendly, have a smile on their face, say hello to everybody, and have a get-it-done attitude.”

When the city does things right, it’s the residents who reap the rewards.

“I want my neighbor to be happy,” Hernandez said. “And if my neighbor’s happy, I’m happy.”