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 fourth fastest growing MSA in the U.S. between 1990 and 2000.

The 2004 Census places the population of the RGV at 978,369, a 39.6% increase over 1990. Put simply, the RGV's population is larger than eight states.

The southern half of the Rioplex includes the Mexico border cites of Matamoros, Rio Bravo and Reynosa, which contribute at least another 1.7 million to the region's population. This brings the total population of this bi-national, bicultural, bilingual, international metropolitan area to 2.7 million.

Statistics vary according to source, but all agree that Hispanics represent from 83% to 87% of the U.S. population; U.S. residents under 35 years of age make up between 40% and 50%. 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 1.4 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:

  • Fastest Growing Metro in the State of Texas
  • # 1 in Job Growth in the United States
  • # 2 Lowest Cost Area to Live in
  • # 4 in Nation for Job Creation and Retention
  • # 8 Fastest Growing Metro in the United States
  • 4% Annual Population Growth Rate

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2005, Milken Best Performing Cities Index, Forbes Magazine 2005)

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% 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. McAllen is represented by 40 of America's top 100 retailers.

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 2005. It also presents the most recent Census population estimates for July 2004. 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 made . While McAllen is 20th in Per capita Income, 17th in the number of Households, 15th in Population, and 12th in Sales Tax Collections, among the top 20 cities on the Comptrollers list, McAllen is ranked:

  • 1st in total Retail Sales Per Household ($89,375)
  • 2nd in Retails Sales Per Capita ($25,443)
  • 3rd in Per Capita Sales Tax Collections ($409)
In 2004 the City of McAllen achieved over $3 Billion in total retail sales.

  • * This represents 48.1% of all retail sales in Hidalgo County and 97% of all retail sales in Cameron County
  • According to the US Census Bureau, in 2004 McAllen had only 18% of Hidalgo County population,
  • McAllen's share of 2004 retail sales were follows:
    • 36.5% of Building material sales
    • 57.6% of General Merchandise Sales
    • 27.5% of Food Store Sales
    • 48/7% of Automotive/Gasoline Sales
    • 82.4% of Apparel & Accessory Store sales
    • 60.8% of Home Furniture Sales
    • 46.2% of Eating and Drinking Sales, and 54.4% of all Miscellaneous Retail Sales

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 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, and Ticketmaster.

In Hidalgo County, cross-border cargo and vehicular traffic increased 214% and 69% respectively during the decade of the 1990's from 228,133 to 715,305 cargo trucks and from 10.92 million to 18.45 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.

Single-family home sales by McAllen MLS Realtors in 2005 was 2,293.. The average selling price for these new homes was $117,801.

Total single-family permits in McAllen reached 1,904 in 2004 & 2005. On the basis of permit value, the average new home cost is $70,101. 2001 looks like it will have 885 permits, with costs averaging $69,728. Building permit values in the Rio Grande Valley cities rose from $264 million in 1990 to an all-time high of $825 million in 2000. Building permits, Valley-wide are projected to exceed $994 million by the end of 2001.

McAllen MSA's share of total building permits was $161 million and $434 million for 1990 and 2000 respectively. McAllen leads the Valley with $84 million and $179 million respectively.

Comparison of Population within Selected Metro Areas