Laredo Marketing

Sean Bowlin, LMT’s Business Journal editor had some interesting words to say in today’s journal:

snapshot of the Laredo Morning Times Coffee Talk segment of the Business Journal

I appreciate his sense of hope and positivity, I really do. I can relate to his view of Laredo since I also am a transplant from a much bigger city and really like Laredo. Unfortunately his quote “From what I understand, there have been master plans in the past but they’ve been shelved for various reasons.” does not inspire confidence that new plans are going to be looked at any more seriously.

I like his 1st, 2nd & 3rd points that need attention but isn’t a key ingredient still missing? It isn’t just business leaders and city leaders that can make a shift in perception change, it is also your regular folk – you know, the 99% of the rest of Laredo. Where is the nurturing of new business owners and new arts organizations and new leaders? Even lowly local bloggers (none who are business owners that I know of) shape how outsiders view Laredo – we all have regular readers from other states and other countries.

Let me give you an extremely sad example of potential (& loads of $$) wasted – take the Downtown Revitalization plan being developed. I went to the September 22, 2010 meeting and final public meeting on November 17, 2010. One of the points I had brought up was how can there be little to no downtown residents as part of the “stakeholders” list and also, based on their own maps, more than 50% (close to 75%) of the area they are supposed to be “masterplanning” is composed of RESIDENTIAL AREAS.

At this meeting, I asked for input from the community to be taken because if they are including short- and long-term goals, local residents can do a tremendous job with mobilizing in the very short-term and feed from a united vision and agree to clean-up or plant or create some sort of move for the better in the downtown areas. Small changes by regular people can make such a difference. If they wanted buy-in and support from the community, they had to address the public and not just wait for people to go to them on three occasions in a little publicized meeting.

So, the audience was told – “Hm, grassroots, sounds promising, we will do that.” and we were told that a meeting would be planned for the residents of the downtown areas in two weeks. Read that again – two WEEKS. Two months later – no downtown resident meeting, no contact from the architects, no update on their website AT ALL, information is outdated and the calendar is pretty much empty. Believe it or not, I even volunteered in front of many witnesses, yes VOLUNTEERED to go door to door and post flyers for a meeting.

Another blogger recently asked, where are we with the downtown masterplan? Laredotejas, you asked for updates, these are it. Have more questions, see if you can find a response here.

How sad. But, Mr. Bowlin, never give up. I won’t. I’ve already sunk plenty of my savings (with no business return) to make my abandoned downtown house livable and know there are many other residents who are also willing to help with a unified focus. I do try to keep my little hobby blog positive and informative but I am not going to hide the fact that this city spends a lot of money while spinning its wheels. There is a strong disconnect between leaders and the residents – and maybe if a few readers get more involved with the goings-on of our not-so-transparent or responsive governance, maybe it won’t be as much.

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About Que Fregados

Que Fregados is a quirky look at little things that strike us funny in Laredo and the unique Latino culture. Suggestions and comments are welcome. You can also email to quefregados@gmail.com.
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6 Responses to Laredo Marketing

  1. Poncho1950 says:

    QF: Grassroots can’t be organized by the powers that be, it has to be from the ground up, hence the term, “grassroots.” That means you and others in the neighborhood have to get together and speak up for yourselves.

    By and large, Laredoans are timid about doing so, and not without reason. Although local officials did not send out goon squads to hush those who spoke up, they could put pressure on them economically and force them to be quiet or get out of town. That’s a long time in the past, perhaps, but the memories and attitudes linger.

    I agree with you that Laredo, or any community, needs a vibrant art scene in order to be a good place to live. There is some stuff happening, and TAMIU has done a lot to help, but that’s way out on the fringe of Laredo. And if you do stuff downtown, there’s the issue of parking, parking, parking.

    • Que Fregados says:

      True about the grassroots. And there is a small group of downtown residents that wants to form to ask and help in making some changes. There is also a downtown art scene still too small to be noticed.

      I didn’t know about the past but isn’t that why it is a good thing to have perspectives that have lived in other communities and can see other possibilities? A ver que. We can continue to blog from wherever we are – Laredo or outside :).

  2. stxparrothead says:

    Another huge market that Laredo misses out on are the Winter Texans. My parents included! They have many friends in the Mission area who would glady save the additional 3 hour drive to the Valley if Laredo had more to offer them. From what I have seen, Laredo marketing caters to Mexico. Yes, I know that is a great market, but what about keeping those who pass thru and wish they could just stop here a place to stay and play for 3 or more months ($$$)? I love Laredo, but it is not marketed toward the “retiree crowd” unlike the Valley (and they do it VERY well!)

  3. ChuckO says:

    QF, I have been in Laredo 20 years. Master plans have been hyped for downtown all that time. Nothing much has ever come of it. You cannot get in and out of downtown. That is the mainest problem as I see it. They might as well be happy with catering to the traffic from across. That is all they are going to get in any numbers. Former Mayor Tatangelo always wanted to do something, but that was after he was mayor, when he had the biggest leverage. Bout all Laredo got out of that was Tantangelo walk way, which I understand is gone now. La Posada is trapped in all of that – no egress, ingress. They only thrive when buses come in from New Orleans to go across – now not too good. Again, it is entrance and exit. Parking, too. Master plan? Not gonna happen for a larger audience.

    • Que Fregados says:

      I’ve been here less time than you, Chuck, but I already get the idea that you are right – not much is going to come of another “master plan”. Sigh. I still have hope, though.

  4. BT Blues says:

    As a native-born Laredoan, I have heard the ideas of revitalizing downtown ever since the Mall Del Norte eclipsed the area that had stores like Hachar’s and Richters and Siro’s as must-go-to retailers.

    In those years, nothing has happened. I don’t believe nothing ever will.

    Chuck may have a point, the main problem with the downtown area is that it is difficult to get into. And, of course, the reason for that is that it straddles the river, Mexico, and cannot be reached easily. Strategically speaking, that is not a good situation.

    Moreover, there is also Laredo’s collective sense of apathy. People are moving north and beyond. Businesses and schools are now all along the quasi-loop. The general notion is why bother with downtown and its chucherias.

    Art is awesome. The concept of promoting this is fantastic. Yet, I am not going to hold my breath on it, unfortunately.

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