McAllen Chamber of Commerce
1200 Ash Avenue, McAllen, TX 78501 | (956) 682-2871

McAllen Overview

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Fifty years ago, the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas was a rural, agriculture-based economy characterized by sporadic growth. Today, the area is being transformed into a major international trade area by developing first-rate commercial, retail, office, industrial, medical, retirement and educational facilities. The promotion of international and retail trade, tourism and manufacturing is among the most successful along the U.S.-Mexico Border.

The Rio Grande Valley includes the four southern-most counties in Texas: Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy. It is in the geographic center of the region most recently termed the Rioplex, which includes the four Rio Grande Valley counties and the Northern Mexico border cities between Matamoros and Ciudad Mier.

The principal cities of McAllen, Brownsville and Harlingen combine to form the northern half of the Rioplex and are among the most rapidly growing region in America. In fact, the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSA ranked 4th fastest growing MSA in the U.S. between 1990 and 2000. From 2000 and 2006 it ranked 10th.

The 2008 Census places the population of the RGV at 1,194,819 million, a 63.4% increase over 1990. Put simply, the RGV's population is larger than nine states.

The southern half of the Rioplex includes the Mexico border cites of Matamoros, Rio Bravo and Reynosa, which contribute at least another 3.0 million to the region's population. This brings the total population of this bi-national, bicultural, bilingual, international metropolitan area to 3.9 million or more: the Rioplex is larger than 25 states.

Statistics vary according to source, but all agree that Hispanics represent from 83% to 87% of the Rio Grande Valley population; Rio Grande Valley residents under 35 years of age make up between 50% and 60%. The population, although diverse, is defined by two dominant demographic criteria: Hispanic and young.

McALLEN...The Jewel in the Valley Crown!

McAllen is indeed the "Jewel in the Valley Crown." This is not to imply the other Valley communities are not doing well. It is just apparent that McAllen, economically, is running like a finely tuned engine. Consider these facts:

The McAllen, Mission, Edinburg MSA and Reynosa, Mexico comprise a dynamic community with a combined population of 1.7 million. During the past two decades, this area has made bold advances, with unprecedented growth in both population and industrial attraction.

The McAllen MSA is rated:

  • One of the Fastest Growing Metros in the State of Texas
  • Forbes listed McAllen as one of the top ten best cities for recession recovery in a 2009 article.
  • The McAllen MSA ranked 7th overall out of the 200 best performing U.S. metropolitan areas in the nation, and 1st in high technology sector growth in 2008
  • 3rd Lowest Cost of Living
  • CNNMoney recognized McAllen among its Best Places to Launch a Small Business in 2009. McAllen was ranked 16th among Mid-Size Cities and 23rd overall for Small Business Growth.
  • McAllen's total population is 15th among Texas cities, yet it ranked 12th in overall Retail Sales, and 3rd in the State in total Retail Sales per household and per capita.

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2008, Milken Best Performing Cities Index 2008)

Reynosa Metro:

  • Fastest Growing City in the State of Tamaulipas
  • Top 5 Fastest Growing Cities in Mexico
  • Reynosa’s Maquiladora Industry is recognized nationally for continued job growth
  • 5.7% Annual Population Growth Rate

(Source: INEGI, Department of Labor-Mexico, State of Tamaulipas)

McAllen is represented by 40 of America's top 100 retailers. More than 80 of Fortune 500's global manufacturers have operations in McAllen/Reynosa. Included among them are: AT&T, Bissel, Black & Decker, BMW, Delco, Drexel Meyer, Eaton, Emerson, GE, Johnson Controls, Nokia, R. R. Donnelley & Sons, Panasonic, Siemens, Sony, Symbol, TRW, West Bend and Whirlpool.

It is an undisputed fact that McAllen is the retail center of South Texas and Northern Mexico, drawing from a consumer base of over 10 million people within a 200-mile radius. In the bi-national metropolitan area, McAllen retailers serve an immediate market population of 1.8 million.

The Texas Comptroller tracks the Top 20 Cities in Texas on a regular basis. Retail sales tax collections provide the clearest illustration of McAllen's retail sales phenomenon. The table below presents the top 20 Cities in Texas in terms of the Sales Tax Collections for 2008. It also presents the most recent Census population estimates for 2008. By dividing Sales Tax collections by Population, the Sales Tax Per Capita is revealed. However, by including per capita income, number of households and total retail sales in each city, a whole new set of conclusions can be made1.

While McAllen is 19th in Per capita Income, 15th in the number of Households, 14th in Population, and 11th in Sales Tax Collections, among the top 20 cities on the Comptrollers list, McAllen is ranked:

    • 6th in total Retail Sales Per Household ($ 82,819)
    • 5th in Retails Sales Per Capita ($ 27,496)
    • 3rd in Per Capita Sales Tax Collections ($349)
  • In 2008 the City of McAllen achieved over $3.57 Billion in total retail sales.
  • This represents 46% of all retail sales in Hidalgo County and 103% of all retail sales in Cameron County
  • According to the US Census Bureau, in 2008 McAllen had only 17.9% of Hidalgo County population,
  • McAllen's share of 2008 retail sales were follows:
    • 47.4% of Motor Vehicle and Parts Dealers,
    • 59.7% of Furniture and Home Furnishings Stores,
    • 78.4% of Electronic and Appliance Stores,
    • 29.9% of Building Material and Garden Equipment and Supplies Dealers,
    • 25.4% of Food and Beverage Stores,
    • 39.1% of Health and Personal Care Stores,
    • 20.5% of Gasoline Stations,
    • 66.5% of Clothing and Clothing Accessories stores,
    • 73.6% of Sporting Goods, Hobby, Book, and Music Stores,
    • 53.1% of General Merchandise Stores.

McAllen is the retail center of South Texas and Northern Mexico, drawing from a consumer base of over 8.2 million people. This sector has become the driving force in McAllen's economy, growing a staggering 138% over the last 10 years, to over $ 3.58 billion and employing 27% of the workforce.

The McAllen area has also been successful in attracting a number of call centers as a result of a young and trainable workforce. A few of the call centers are Converges, T-Mobile, Merkafon, Hotel.com and Ticketmaster.

In Hidalgo County, cross-border cargo and vehicular traffic have increased 345% and 36.4% respectively since the beginning of 1990's, from 228,133 to 1,015,554 cargo trucks in 2008 and from 10.92 million to 14.9 million automobiles. US/Mexico trade crossing the international bridge in Hidalgo County increased from $5.0 billion in 1994, pre-NAFTA, to $12.56 billion in 2000 and $19.9 billion in 2006. From 1995-2006 the Rio Grande Valley share of NAFTA trade increased 168% from $11.1 billion to $31.6 billion.

Single-family home sales by McAllen MLS Realtors in 2008 were 1,438. The average selling price for these new homes was $122,584. In 2009, it is $122,577. Total single-family permits in McAllen reached 1,270 in 2008. On the basis of permit value, the average new home cost is $122,584. Building permit values in the Rio Grande Valley cities rose from $264 million in 1990, over $825 million in 2000, to almost $8.93 billion in 2008.

McAllen MSA's share of total building permits was $161 million and $474 for 1990 and 2008 respectively. The city of McAllen leads the Valley with $84 million and $ 159 million respectively.

Comparison of Population within Selected Metro Areas