Analysts See RGV Economy Making Gains


Analysts See RGV Economy Making Gains

Major hospitals are expanding and growing across the Valley.
Major hospitals are expanding and growing across the Valley.

The Rio Grande Valley’s real estate market currently has a scarcity of existing homes for sale. Residents holding on to properties as the region and country exits out of an economy influenced by the pandemic. 

This analysis was among the views offered recently during a 2021 Rio Grande Valley Economic Forecast & Market Incentives virtual summit co-hosted by the Harlingen Economic Development Corporation. The event, which spanned over three hours, featured economic and business leaders from throughout the Valley and Laredo.

The general tone was one of patience and hope as the regional economy has generally held steady and preserved over the events of the last year. Some participants spoke of a belief that the Valley economy will make robust gains in key sectors as 2021 progresses.

“The market is rebounding, but if we had more inventory, it would be coming back more quickly,” said Brian Reed, a broker with the Ryan & Brian Real Estate Team. “There’s a reluctance right now to list. There are plenty of buyers out there. We just need the inventory.”

The RGV market is seeing a surge in new home construction. Buyers are tapping into low interest rates and foregoing a market with limited existing homes for sales, analysts said. It has led to what Reed called “a high demand, low supply” market. 

The UTRGV School of Medicine is making a $659-million impact on the RGV economy.
The UTRGV School of Medicine is making a $659-million impact on the RGV economy.

“People are scared to put their homes on the market,” Reed said. “The thinking is, ‘if I sell, what am I going to get?'”

Analysts generally believe that the two sectors of the housing market – new home construction and existing home sales – will balance out as the economy continues to open up and get back to more normalcy. 

Growing Impact Of Healthcare Industry

The summit also highlighted the huge role the medical and health care industry has in the regional economy. Sergio Contreras, the president of the Rio Grande Valley Partnership, said the medical/health care industry produces a $13.7-billion impact for the regional economy. The industry has experienced a 43-percent growth in jobs over the last 10 years in the Valley, he said. It adds up to 163,530 direct and indirect jobs in the Valley, Contreras said. 

He also pointed to the $659-million impact the UTRGV Medical School is having on the Valley economy as it continues to expand operations with new facilities and clinics across the region. Contreras said the Partnership has launched a bio/medical initiative to encourage local companies to be part of a $1.1-million market that repairs and maintains medical equipment. Much of that work is currently being contracted to companies outside of the Valley.

The Edinburg hospital district is among the medical areas seeing growth in the Valley.
The Edinburg hospital district is among the medical areas seeing growth in the Valley.

“We want to provide this supply chain,” Contreras said. 

It’s a supply chain that serves an industry that’s still on the rise. Contreras said four major hospitals in the Valley are planning or have launched expansions and additions to current facilities. 

“They all see a need in their communities and markets,” he said.

Other highlights of the conference included:

  • The Pharr International Bridge leads the nation in crossings of Mexican-grown produce. More Mexican avocados alone go through the Pharr bridge than any other port of entry along the border. In 2020, the Pharr bridge saw $33 billion in trade.
  • Laredo continues to lead among all U.S. ports of entry for overall truck traffic despite seeing some diminishing volumes in 2020. Bridges in Laredo saw 23 million truck crossings last year. Pharr with 665,435 truck crossings was the leader among RGV-area bridges.
  • Brownsville continues to see revitalization of its historic downtown district. Josh Mejia of the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation said the city is expecting to see sizable private investments in the downtown area as residential and business/entertainment developments come to fruition.