|Jason Hilts, the BEDC's Big Bag of Wind|
BEDC President Jason Hilts took the podium to introduce BEDC Executive Vice-President Gilbert Salinas, who delivered a year end review of economic development, hyperbolically overstating the role of the BEDC in so-called job creation.
Following the Salinas power point, Hilts fielded a series of revealing, yet probing questions by the three commissioners to the mayor's right, De Leon, Tetreau and Portillo. All three will soon join the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation, traditionally the rubber stamping right arm for all of the BEDC's approved projects.
|City Commissioner Cesar de Leon|
De Leon wanted to know how many of the gazillion job creations claimed in Salinas' report were "actual jobs," not just promises or projections, trips and relationships. "We need to know what the city is getting out of all this money BEDC is spending.
Hilts said: "I don't have that answer for you today, but will get it to you before the end of the year."
"Much of the new industry, like Spacex, is simply locating here because of geography. We need to see something tangible," De Leon continued.
Portillo stated that she had learned that Austin's EDC focused on local businesses with "80% of growth" coming from that sector. She asked Hilts if the BEDC had a program to promote expansion of established local business as opposed to always going for the bigger companies with 5 or 10 year plans.
Hilts stated that the BEDC had tried several years ago to help local businesses to grow, but that the results were not that good. "Many local companies are reluctant to share three years of financials, tax returns, etc. that we require to establish financial stability," Hilts claimed.
Commissioner Tetreau was concerned about the need for an office to be established and staffed in Colombia, and wanted itemized travel expenses for any city staff or officials accompanying the BEDC on far flung trips to South America and Asia. Hilts responded that it was Mayor Martinez who usually represented the city.
"In South America, a mayor is viewed like a governor or president. The meetings we set up are better attended if the mayor is with us," offered Hilts.
Tetreau continued: "You probably wonder why several commissioners are turning up on the GBIC. It's because we want transparency. We want to know where all this money is going."