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Business Leaders Seek to Improve Valley's Image

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Posted: Jul 24, 2014 6:51 PM

Updated: Jul 24, 2014 6:53 PM

McALLEN - Rio Grande Valley government and business leaders are asking Gov. Rick Perry to reconsider his decision to deploy the National Guard to the region. They say the move will send the wrong message about safety in the area.

Perry ordered the deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops to the Valley. Members of the Rio South Texas Economic Council say that may have an adverse effect on businesses considering moving to the region.

"We tell folks, ‘how would you like to have 1,000 National Guard units patrolling Houston, or Austin or San Antonio, or some of those other bigger cities? What would that image or message be about those communities?'" McAllen Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Steve Ahlenius said.

The council is made up of chambers of commerce and economic development corporations from Brownsville to Starr County.

The council hired a media consultant to help push positive stories about the Valley to national media outlets.

"This is not the first time that RSTEC has retained a media firm. We did it back in 2009 and made media trips to New York. (We) talked to all the major publications and news outlets in New York, and Dallas and in Houston," Ahlenius said.

Ahlenius said negative stories dominate the airwaves.

"There's only one image," he said.

The council said people in other parts of the country may focus too much on concerns about border security and not realize the Valley has a strong economy.

"We keep telling folks this is the front door of Texas, not the back door," Ahlenius said.

"You've come down here and you've talked about the immigration issue, you've talked about the crisis, the humanitarian issue. Let's talk about all the opportunities there are for new businesses," Ahlenius said.

The council said they are not trying to hide the problems impacting the Valley.

"There are great stories to tell. There's not anything to cover up. There are great success stories to tell about this region," Ahlenius said.

Ahlenius said the region's economy keeps moving forward in spite of any problem.

Topics: steve ahlenius, mcallen, chamber of commerce, rio grande valley, image, national guard, immigration, crisis, south texas, central america

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