Starr Co. Cities Losing Business, Revenue Due to Violence

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ROMA – The impact of Mexico’s violence in the Rio Grande Valley is resulting in less money for city coffers and businesses.

Officials said fewer people are shopping, pumping gas and eating out in Starr County’s small cities and towns.

Roma resident Noel Benavides owns two businesses. He said visitors from across the bridge make a huge difference.

“It could be better… Things are not what they used to be. But we have to take the good with the bad,” he said. “We need their business. We need for them to come down.”

Starr County Judge Eloy Vera said he agrees with Benavides.

“People coming from Mexico, especially Monterrey, that come and shop in McAllen and with us and all along the border, if those people don’t come, our economics suffer,” he said.

Vera said they’ve noticed the decline in the numbers.

“Starr County is no different than the rest of the border… A couple weeks ago the reports for sales tax came out and pretty much the whole Valley lost sales tax,” he said.

Roma officials said they’re losing on average $10,000 to $15,000 a month in sales tax revenue. That means the city with a population of around 10,000 could be out $120,000 by the end of the year.

It’s one reason why city officials are working with Mexico to promote enhanced security along Ruta 54, an expressway between Monterrey, Nuevo Leon and Roma.

Starr county officials said they hope advertising higher security along the Mexican highway will help visitors feel more inclined to visit the U.S.

“So, it’s not just what is happening in Mexico. It affects and has real life consequences for the Valley, Rio Grande City and certainly Starr County,” Rio Grande City Mayor Joel Villarreal said.

Benavides said he’s glad discussions with Mexican leaders started.

Cerralvo Mayor Baltazar Martinez told CHANNEL 5 NEWS the Mexican government enhanced security along Route 54 to include 24-hour security provided by both state and federal police to create a safer travel environment.

A coalition of leaders from the Valley and bordering neighbors from Mexico will be meeting four times a year to talk about the plan to help increase traffic across the border. 


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