RGVision CEO and publisher, Gabe Puente, sat down with COSTEP’s vice president for economic development: Matt Z. Ruszczak and senior vice president for business development: Adam Gonzalez to talk about their upcoming economic development initiatives for the Rio South Texas region.
Both Gonzalez and Ruszczak will be attending several industry tradeshows in the U.S and Europe in the following months. The goal is to promote the Rio South Texas region to potential business investors and highlight the numerous benefits and opportunities the area has to offer.
Gabe Puente: What do we want to do when it comes to economic growth here and what is COSTEP’s mission?
Matt Ruszczak: So, looking at economic development, obviously the purpose is to increase wealth, prosperity, and opportunity for the folks living in the Rio South Texas region. There are various ways in which you can do this. The direction which COSTEP is taking is to look at industrial recruitment and specifically attracting mobility industry companies to the area. We are looking to engage both domestic companies as well as international companies which would be interested in investing in this region and then growing here. Obviously, their growth and increasing prosperity, presents an opportunity for our region’s residents.
Adam Gonzalez: The goal here, as Matt mentioned, is to bring company decision makers and multipliers down to see Rio South Texas. To create awareness of our region for potential industrial investors. We do have green field sites, we have industrial parks, we have the quality of life, and we have available workforce. We work hard towards building that awareness and bringing these decision makers down to the Rio South Texas region.
Gabe Puente: What is it that you guys are hoping to achieve while you’re out there at these tradeshows?
Matt Z. Ruszczak: So, the main part of these tradeshow visits is building personal relationships with our targets. It is critical to develop a connection and trust in order to get some sort of action out of the decision-makers at the companies that we’re engaging with. It’s not about showing-up, shaking hands, taking a picture, and walking away feeling accomplished. It’s about truly engaging, learning, understanding, and following-up. It’s about following through on the items discussed and doing the hard work on behalf of the person you engage with. The tradeshow visits alone that we’re doing are hard work and exhausting. Obviously, long days, lots of walking, lots of talking, lots of shaking hands, and lots of engagement. But really, they’re just the first step in a long-term process. And you have to stay persistent throughout that process. The real work, weeks and months of diligent follow-up work, starts after the show ends.
Adam Gonzalez: Matt is spot on here about the hard work. One more thing that’s important to note is that COSTEP is not trying to replace any of the current ongoing efforts by our region’s established economic development organization. Our efforts are meant to complement their hard work and bring new projects to the table.
Matt Z. Ruszczak: If you look back several decades, COSTEP itself was founded as a regional economic development organization. The idea was to advance South Texas and look at it from a regional perspective. So as COSTEP, we are finding our way back to our roots. This latest evolution of COSTEP is another step forward among various efforts that have tried regional thinking, and not just regional thinking but regional doing. With each evolution these efforts get stronger and better, so we are very excited about what we will be able to accomplish on behalf of the Rio South Texas region going forward.
More information can be found on COSTEP’s social media (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn). Also on their official website: www.costep.org