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HARLINGEN — After seven months, a national search has led city officials to a finalist for the job of manager and chief executive officer of the city’s Economic Development Corporation.
After launching his career with the Brownsville Economic Development Council, Orlando Campos went on to Valley International Airport before working in economic development in North Texas.
Earlier this week, city commissioners picked him as the finalist for the EDC’s manager and chief executive officer job after serving as director of economic development and tourism with the town of Addison, just north of Dallas.
“I’m very excited to be working with an organization such as the Harlingen Economic Development Corporation,” Campos, a Brownsville native, said during an interview. “I’m very honored by the trust bestowed upon me by the board as well as the city commission — and I’m excited to be returning to the Valley. I’m reaching full circle.”
‘Catapulting to new heights’
Now, Campos is taking over for Raudel Garza, who was drawing an annual salary of about $180,000 as the EDC’s manager and CEO when he resigned last October after more than 10 years to take a job as Edinburg’s top economic development official.
“We are eager and ready for our new economic development president and CEO to begin his new role and congratulate Orlando Campos on the offer,” EDC board President Javier De Leon said. “Along with his experience in the booming town of Addison as its economic development director, Orlando will bring a wealth of knowledge to Harlingen, and we can’t wait to see his proficiently and passion in action very soon as he takes the lead in invigorating our local economy. We are confident he will be an asset to Harlingen. I think he’s going to catapult the city to new heights.”
‘Extensive’ national search
Following a headhunting firm’s national search, the EDC’s board interviewed about 20 candidates for the job, board member Eric Ziehe said.
“We went through an extensive search and found who we believe is very well qualified,” he said. “These things take so much time to put together. We took our time and interviewed a lot of candidates — a lot had a lot of experience. It’s difficult to find people with experience in EDC. It’s very specialized.”
Contacting prospective business
At City Hall, officials are working with Campos, who was drawing an annual salary of about $193,000 with Addison’s economic development department, to draft his contract while negotiating a salary.
After settling into the job, he’s planning to begin contacting prospective businesses, he said.
“One of the first things I plan to do is evaluate the current prospects so that we can reach out to them and assure them Harlingen supports them so we don’t lose out on any opportunities,” Campos said. “I also want to work with the EDC board as well as city leaders to determine what their vision is for the community so that we can develop a plan to deliver and reach that vision. My goal is to make it the premier economic development organization in the entire Valley. I hope to leverage the contacts I’ve made in North Texas for the benefit of the community.”
27-year economic development career
A 27-year career in economic development led Campos to the job leading the city’s EDC.
In 1996, he launched his career in economic development with the Brownsville Economic Development Council, serving as director of marketing and business development.
Two years later, he took a job with Valley International Airport, working as manager of business development.
In 2002, Campos returned to the Brownsville Economic Development Council, serving five years as its vice president of business development.
From 2007 to 2011, he worked as the Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s senior director of business and community development.
In 2011, Campos took a job as Addison’s first economic development director, leading the department to win recognition as one North Texas’ top economic development offices.
During his tenure, he went on to take the duel role of tourism director.
A graduate of Brownsville’s Gladys Porter High School, Campos went on to graduate from Columbia University, earning a bachelor of arts degree while majoring in urban studies, specializing in history.