When Pharr found itself labeled as one of the “worst connected” cities in the United States, while still unable to access federal funding to fix the problem, it took creating a solution into its own hands.
Pharr’s solution consists of creatively using many resources from right within the city to create connectivity for low-income houses, often for free or at a low cost. These resources include the following:
Marketing the federal Affordable Connectivity Program that provides certain households with free access to broadband
Getting funding for a financial feasibility study from BBVA Bank
Using a Cambium wireless network platform to connect 50 households
Developing a strong network of partners to implement a fiber-to-the-home connectivity plan
The fiber project is Pharr’s ultimate goal. And, in order to make it a reality, the city needed funding alongside the support of its many partners. In order to obtain that funding, the city used revenue bonds and money from the American Rescue Plan Act, preventing the city from needing to raise property taxes or the burden on the households it was trying to help.
Pharr’s partner in securing the funding for the FTTH project? The Pharr EDC.
“The City of Pharr is innovative, and when the idea came up, the Pharr EDC was happy to partner with the city to bring broadband to our residents,” says Victor Perez, Pharr EDC President/CEO in a BroadBand Community news article.
Thanks to the funding and partnerships obtained by Pharr, the city is now in the process of creating fiber access to the Internet in its third neighborhood and providing marketing to make residents aware of their access to the Internet.
Pharr’s connectivity solutions are supporting residents, are part of its efforts to attract new business to the city, and are inspiring other cities to pursue their own fiber network solutions to bridge the digital divide.
Encouraged by the Pharr EDC’s business-friendly approach, incentives, and packages, produce companies Delta Fresh and Kaliroy Fresh have collaborated to build 1 million square feet of produce storage space in South Pharr.
In an interview with the Rio Grande Guardian, William Millan, project manager of the new space, called Dekal Industrial Park, credited Pharr’s location near Mexico and the Pharr EDC’s commitment to making business investments in the city easy, as the reasons the project chose Pharr for its location.
The project marks a massive addition of warehouse space to the refrigerated warehouses the two produce companies already own in Pharr. It will consist of a mix of dry, frozen, and refrigerated space to meet client needs. The first warehouse in the new space should be completed next year.
Victor Perez, Executive Director of Pharr EDC, in the same interview, also announced several new projects that the Pharr EDC has brought into the city. These include the following:
A 150,000 square foot warehouse
A Tractor Supply groundbreaking
A McDonald’s groundbreaking
A Triple H expansion
Perez noted that the Pharr EDC never refuses new business, and never stops striving to bring in the business and growth that benefits Pharr.
“We’re here to do business with them,” he said.” We don’t turn projects away. We incentivize as much as we can. That is what we are known for. We want to make sure they [Businesses] feel comfortable that they have been treated right and given the best opportunity for them to succeed.”
PHARR, Texas – The Pharr EDC Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides scholarship opportunities for graduating students residing in the city of Pharr.
Its mission statement is to “support and promote endeavors that foster educational, occupational, and career opportunities for Pharr residents to advance their socioeconomic status and enhance their quality of life.”
Lilvette Santos is the director of the Pharr EDC Foundation. She recently sat down with Rio Grande Guardian International News Service editor and publisher Steve Taylor to discuss the foundation’s work. She unveiled some of the new initiatives the foundation will be embarking on in the coming months.