Kevin Hill is used to delivering hot sales advice for the freight markets, but what about selling an entire city? On this episode of Put That Coffee Down, Hill and FreightWaves Lead Economist Anthony Smith talk to Teclo Garcia, economic director of Laredo, Texas, about how he sells his city as a place for businesses to call home.
The Port of Laredo is the top inland port along the U.S.-Mexico border, and according to the U.S. Census Bureau saw over $200 billion in imports and exports in 2020. The massive influx of freight should be attractive to businesses, but is that really the case?
Garcia explained what he highlights about the city to get companies to settle there. Laredo is a key port for automakers and international trade, one of the selling points that have gotten over 650 trucking companies to call Laredo home.
Garcia said his job is all about “connecting private-sector companies with the opportunities they need to succeed,” and that success for companies translates into citywide success with economic development and new jobs.
The automotive industry is one of the larger drivers of company settlement in locations that utilize the Port of Laredo, and Garcia said the concept of “maquiladora,” twin factories that operate across international borders, has contributed to the high port activity and growth of the city overall.
Hill cited the size of the port as well as the direct road from Laredo to Monterrey, Mexico, as strategic advantages. Garcia also noted the connection to Interstate 35, allowing traffic to flow through the major Texas cities all the way up to Minnesota.
“Laredo has lived off its strategic location for hundreds of years,” said Garcia, “and opening up that Pacific highway going down to Monterrey has been huge.”
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