Harlingen, one of the most notable cities in the rapidly developing Rio Grande Valley, has a visionary team of experts led by Orlando Campos, the CEO of the Harlingen Economic Development Corporation (HEDC). Working together, they are dedicated to creating a brighter and more prosperous future for Harlingen and the entire region.
“After being up in north Texas for 16 years, I started to think about what my future was going to be like. I came home for my mom’s 89th birthday, had a great time, and started thinking about how I was missing out on a lot of family functions. So I decided to come back home,” said Campos.
Campos has previously worked as a business development manager in Harlingen for Valley International Airport, giving him a nuanced understanding of the region and how he can effectively drive business.
“There were several positions that were open here in the Valley. I evaluated all of them, but I felt most comfortable with the Harlingen area because I had worked here. I had observed the local political dynamics and looked at what direction the city was heading in, so I felt that I could have an impact. I applied for the position, and a few months later, I was hired as the CEO here in Harlingen.”
Campos’s role as CEO of the HEDC is to steer the trajectory of the corporation in the right direction to bring and foster Harlingen as a place of business and industry. He works to support the employees he oversees, ensure the smooth operation of the corporation, represent the people of Harlingen in their aspirations, and fulfill the goals set forth by the HEDC.
“I am the CEO overseeing all the functions that we lead. Our primary focus is to attract primary jobs to the community through a variety of ways, to market the city to help attract new businesses and industries to Harlingen, and to enhance the economic vibrancy of the community,” he said.
“We also lead efforts to what is known as business retention and expansion programs. We work with local industry and local businesses as well, identifying their potential for growth and adding new jobs. We provide support to them by connecting them with our key stakeholders and partners to help assist businesses and eliminate barriers to their potential growth here in the community. If any business is having issues within the community, we also meet with them to try and determine what those issues might be and eliminate some of those issues.”
“We also work very closely with the school district, Texas State Technical College, UTRGV, and any other institution of higher education that wants to work with us to identify training needs within the community to elevate the skill level of a local workforce,” said Campos.
Since becoming CEO, some of Campos’s efforts to further the corporation have been an internal re-organization of the company, conducting a strategic planning retreat with local stakeholders, launching a request for proposal (RFP) for marketing services, and engaging in talks to bring companies to the region. The corporation also received a grant from the federal government.
“Since coming on board in July, I have been evaluating the organization to better align us to strengthen our efforts. I’ve done some re-classifications of the internal staff. We’ve launched an RFP to strengthen our marketing efforts. We were also awarded a $1.6 million grant from the Economic Development Administration, which is a component of the U.S. Department of Commerce, to do infrastructure work at a new industrial park, which we will be launching this year.”
“We’re working with one company that’s in the aviation aerospace sector. If they choose Harlingen, they would create quite a number of jobs here within the community. We’re also working with a large steel fabrication company that is looking at Harlingen as well as another city that we’re competing with. That company would create very easily close to a thousand jobs,” he said.
Thanks to inspiring leaders like Campos, Harlingen’s future shines brightly. With his extensive experience, Campos has the knowledge and expertise necessary to help the city thrive, improving the lives of its residents and ensuring a successful tomorrow.
“The future looks very, very bright for the community in terms of new investment and new companies coming in.”