HARLINGEN — The U.S. Economic Development Administration awarded a $350,000 grant to the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council for an app to promote the region.
In addition to the grant, the development council will provide $150,000 of in-kind funding to be directed toward the regional marketing effort.
The main phase of the strategy, dubbed “Explore Rio Grande Valley,” will benefit the region by encouraging visitors and natives alike to trek outside the usual spots through a mobile app.
“We’re going to map all the recreational areas, campgrounds, birding centers, museums,” cultural arts centers and historical markers, said Ron Garza, the executive director of the LRGVDC
Though the development council will head the project, staff will work closely with local area chambers of commerce to gather data.
“There are history buffs who would love the historical areas that we have,” Garza said of the app, which will be used to promote hidden gems in the Rio Grande Valley.
The app will include sample itineraries and a map with points of interest.
A formal name for the app be chosen, and then a website and social media pages will be launched.
The possible second phase of the project, if funding permits, will include physical signage directing visitors exiting the expressway to key spots.
“Almost every exit that you take off the expressway, there’s some kind of destination treasure that we just don’t think about,” Garza said.
The app will create approximately 25 new jobs and generate at least $500,000 for the local economy, Garza said.
Small destinations like Grace Heritage Ranch, a 100-acre family owned ranch in Willacy County, will be included on the app’s map.
The app will be available in both English and Spanish and is expected to complete within a year.