‘Major player’ in agriculture first tenant at Port of Brownsville biz park

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Shown at the April 18 ceremonial groundbreaking for Westa Inc. at the Port of Brownsville are, left to right, Adam Gonzalez, CEO, Council for South Texas Economic Progress; Zaur Kafkas, CEO, Westa Inc; William Dietrich, interim director and CEO, Port of Brownsville; Esteban Guerra, chairman, Brownsville Navigation District; Ralph Cowen, BND vice-chairman; John Reed, BND commissioner; Sergio Tito Lopez, BND commissioner, Brownsville Navigation District; and John Wood, BND secretary. (Courtesy: Port of Brownsville)

The Port of Brownsville Business Park has landed its first tenant, Westa Inc., which has promised to invest $20 million building a “state-of-the-art wheat flour mill” and wheat storage silos at the 118-acre business park.

The port described Westa Inc., with corporate offices in Miami and Toronto, as a “major player in the agriculture industry.” A ceremonial groundbreaking was held April 18.

The company plans to develop more than 10 acres at the park, which is located at the Brownsville Ship Channel turning basin. Once operational, the Westa facility will employ 120 people, according to the port.

Westa’s decision to locate in Brownsville is largely thanks to the work of the Council for South Texas Economic Progress (COSTEP), a nongovernmental, regional economic development organization serving seven counties in South Texas, including Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy. COSTEP says it offers business recruitment services and provides regional market date to host site-selector tours, regional familiarization tours and area economic development “enrichment sessions.”

Westa President Zaur Kafkas said the port’s “strategic location, world-class facilities and commitment to reliable service make it the ideal partner for our expansion plans.”

“We look forward to building a successful future together,” he said.

The port said it’s reviewing other prospective tenants for the business park, scheduled for completion late this summer. The park advertises itself as offering “prime industrial real estate opportunities for businesses looking to capitalize on the port’s strategic location and logistical infrastructure.

“With direct access to major transportation networks and proximity to international markets, the business park is poised to become a premier destination for companies seeking to expand their operations and enhance their global competitiveness,” the port said.

Brownsville Navigation District Chairman Esteban Guerra said the port is looking forward to more announcements about tenants “as we continue to attract diverse industries to our region.”

“As the port’s business portfolio expands, these increased private investments indicate the port’s substantial role in fueling economic development and fostering innovation for the Rio Grande Valley,” he said.

Interim Port Director and CEO William Dietrich called the port a vital economic engine for the Valley that provides more than 10,000 high-paying jobs to the region.

“This project exemplifies how regional collaboration works to benefit our communities,” he said. “As the port of the region, we are grateful to join forces with organizations like COSTEP, who share our same vision for transforming the economic landscape of the Rio Grande Valley.”

The Port of Brownsville encompasses 40,000 acres, making it the biggest land-owning public port authority in the United States. It is the only deepwater seaport directly on the U.S.-Mexico border and handles more steel bound for Mexico than any other U.S. port.