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By DANIELLE ALTENBURG/Valley Morning Star
HARLINGEN — Half of the subcontractors building the multimillion-dollar, 150,000-square-foot Bass Pro Shops store are from the Rio Grande Valley or have offices here.
Of 20 subcontractors hired by Bass Pro for the job, 10 are located in cities from Harlingen to McAllen.
These businesses are building and installing everything from concrete sections, flooring and roofing to lighting and air conditioning.
One local subcontractor is Harlingen-based Commercial Plumbing & Mechanical Contractors.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to have the contract,” owner Jo Rae Wagner said.
Wagner’s company is working on the plumbing from beginning to end. She said the company is installing piping, water and waste systems and putting all fixtures in.
Also on the job is Marek Brothers Systems, which has an office in Harlingen as well as other Texas cities.
Marek Brothers project manager Arthur Holmes said he has local workers from areas including Harlingen and Brownsville on this project. He said he probably has 70 workers at the site on any given day. He said the project is helping the local economy by giving all of these men jobs and keeping food on their tables.
They are working on drywall, interior metal framing and more.
Bass Pro is working under a construction allowance that is an even $31 million, said Bill Martin, CEO of the Harlingen Economic Development Corporation. The EDC, which is financing the construction project, has issued bonds in that amount to be paid off over 21 years.
Bass Pro would not release a dollar amount for how much out of the construction allowance is being paid to local contractors.
Aside from Bass Pro, the EDC and city of Harlingen hired local contractors for their portions of construction.
The EDC hired all local contractors, also from Harlingen to McAllen, for the parking lot, utility improvements including water and sewer lines, the building pad and landscaping. Originally, the EDC had budgeted $4.33 million for these items. But it had to increase that amount to $5.35 million because of an engineering error on the parking lot, EDC officials have said.
The landscaping contract was awarded by the EDC to the lowest bidder, Green Thumb Landscaping, which has an Edinburg office, for $200,905.
The city hired the lowest bidder, McAllen Construction, to build a street connecting Dixieland Road to Spur 54, to build water and sewer lines separate from the EDC’s part, a large drainage system and street and traffic lights for $2.76 million.
In addition to local construction contractors, Tejas Equipment Rental from San Benito has provided machinery on a daily basis. According to the EDC, this costs anywhere from $500 to $2,000 per month.
“We like to keep as much local as we can,” Bass Pro Shops spokesperson Katie Mitchell said. “We believe in giving back to the community we are a part of. Local contractors are best able to serve the needs of that particular area.”
Bass Pro will be holding a job fair Aug. 15-17 at the Harlingen Community Center from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. to hire people to work in the store, grill and bowling alley. Mitchell said they are looking to hire anywhere from 300 to 350 employees to fill full- and part-time positions.