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McAllen, TX
MSA: McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX
Best places ranking: #16 among midsize metro areas
Population: 726,604
Located just miles from the Mexican border, McAllen has hardly been immune to the recession -- the Rio Grande Valley is historically one of the poorest parts of the country, and its unemployment rate topped 11% in August. But the outlook isn't bleak. McAllen remains the retail center of both south Texas and northern Mexico, and it was the eighth fastest-growing city in the U.S. last year, according to the 2008 Census.

McAllen boasts a low foreclosure rate and cost of living, and city officials are actively working to improve the area's quality of life, including through the development of an entertainment district.

McAllen and its neighboring cities are poised to capitalize tremendously on cross-border commerce. Thirty-five percent of McAllen's retail market -- which sees more than $3 billion in annual sales -- comes from Mexican nationals who cross the border to shop, dine and entertain. The cross-border trade provides a cushion when the local economy slows down, although business leaders encourage entrepreneurs to maintain their focus on long-term growth on the American side. -Tina Peng

Launch Toolbox:
Resources for getting started in McAllen, TX


Local smallbiz lenders

  • Coastal Bend Bancshares
  • First International Bancshares
  • Wells Fargo & Company
  • Compass Bancshares
  • Innovative Bank
See all local lenders

McAllen Business Statistics
Employer establishments with 1-49 employees
10,028 11,214
Small business growth rate
13% 5.0%
State business tax climate ranking
(out of 50 states)
7 N/A
Percentage of population with bachelor's degree
(ages 25-34)
14.7% 26.9%
Violent crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
341.1 478.8
Property crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
4,547.9 3,562.2
Population growth
15.7% 5.73%
Per-capita income
$18,316 $35,547
Per-capita income growth
24.1% 24.0%
GDP (in millions)
$12,026 $18,559
GDP growth
51% 32%
Average hourly wage
$13.85 $18.69
Housing foreclosure rate
(first half of 2009, 1 per every X housing units)
526 286
Median rent
(2009, for a 2-bedroom housing unit)
$704 $848
Housing price-to-income (HPI) ratio
(first quarter of 2009)
1.2% 1.9%
Long-term HPI ratio
(20-year average, 1984-2004)
1.4% 1.8%
HPI deviation from long-term average
-14.2% 0.0%

All statistics are for the full Metropolitan Statistical Area. For a complete list of data sources, see "How we picked the Best Places."

From the November 2009 issue
"It's pretty cool here -- there's an amazing entrepreneurial spirit. Anywhere you can drive, it's all local, independently owned small mom-and-pop businesses." -Jessica Delgado
Best Places Winners
What do you think of McAllen?
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Do you prefer a place that is: Small Medium Large
The factors that matter most to me are:
 Affordable wages  Few foreclosures
 Educated workers  Low housing costs
 Low crime  High local incomes
 A growing economy  Population growth
 Growing small business population

ireportTell us why: Low taxes? Talented workers? An active small business community? Send us your photos and videos, and you could be featured in our upcoming coverage of reader-picked Best Places to Launch. More
This year we partnered with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to find the 50 most business-friendly communities in America.

With help from Robert Fairlie, an economist and leading scholar of entrepreneurship at the University of California, Santa Cruz, we developed a methodology and sifted through such data on factors such as per capita income, hourly wages, workforce quality, crime rates, taxes and foreclosures. More

Comments? E-mail the editors
Data partners

This package was produced in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Foreclosure data provided by RealtyTrac.

Housing price-to-income data provided by Moody's