Rio Grande Valley, located on the southern-most tip of Texas, is composed of Hidalgo, Cameron, Willacy and Starr counties. Despite the name, Rio Grande Valley is actually a delta, which gives the area diverse types of soil, perfect for farming and agriculture.
Rio Grande Valley really didn't begin its rapid develop until the introduction of irrigation in 1898 and the building of the railroad in 1904. These major additions turned a once relatively desolate area into a major agricultural center.Rio Grande Valley is known for production of:
Citrus industry and cotton industry in particular have brought tremendous attention to Rio Grande Valley, with many South Texas tourists making it a point to go by a fruit stand to pick up some of the Rio Grande Valley's famous grapefruits or other citrus products.
Rio Grande Valley has also begun to develop in other ways. Maquiladoras have really spurred the growth of the area. These industrial plants are located along the U.S.-Mexico border and are meant to encourage economic development on the border. Their popularity stems from the cheap Mexican labor that companies can acquire and the lower overall cost of operations. Many of the maquiladoras can be seen in Reynosa, Mexico, which is only a few miles from McAllen, Texas.
NAFTA has also opened up doors for the Rio Grande Valley. The North American Free Trade Agreement has further spurred growth along the U.S.-Mexico border and has increased the activity of maquiladoras. The region has also benefited from relaxed trade restrictions between Mexico and the United States and has become a warehouse and transportation center.
The McAllen Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) is located south of McAllen between McAllen and Reynosa. Commissioned in 1973, it was the first inland FTZ in the United States and continuously ranks among the most active FTZs in the nation. There is also a Foreign- Trade Zone designation site at the McAllen-Miller International Airport to facilitate air cargo needs. Under U.S. and Mexican laws and NAFTA provisions, the FTZ designation offers specific cost-saving opportunities to manufacturers. Products can be brought into the FTZ duty-free. Services have recently extended to include full logistic support services including public warehouse services including pick & pack, order processing, inventory control, incoming/outgoing quality inspection and kitting.
While agriculture is still big business in the Rio Grande Valley, the emergence of maquiladoras has resulted in the diversification of the Rio Grande Valley economy and continued growth and development in the area, with the McAllen-Mission MSA recognized as one of the fastest growing MSAs in the United States.