**Editor’s note: It was originally reported that Winter Texans bring in over $7 million to the RGV Economy. However, it’s actually $700 million that Winter Texans bring to the RGV Economy. Story has been updated throughout.**
Welcome Home, Winter Texans! October is the start when a few thousand Winter Texans make their way to the Rio Grande Valley for the winter.
“Winter Texans are such a huge part of our local economy and the Valley will be crippled without them,” said Kristi Collier, owner of Welcome RGV, which helps Winter Texans settle into the RGV. “I think a lot of people don’t realize the ripple effect, they buy something from this restaurant which purchased something from this supply store and the ripple effect goes on.”
“UTRGV does a survey every two years and they estimate 100,000 Winter Texans come to South Texas every year and spend $700 million dollars in our economy,” said Collier.
No one agrees more with that than Tom and Barbara Beilke.
“We like Rudy’s, we like Rudy’s, Texas Roadhouse,” said Beilke.
The Chicago natives arrived on Friday and this is their sixth season calling McAllen home.
“We love it here and we’re already enjoying the much milder weather and being here with all the friends we’ve made from across the country and Canada. There’s a lot of folks from Canada in McAllen Mobile Home Park and they really enjoy the winters here. If we think it’s cold in Chicago, it’s much colder in Canada!”
On top of helping the economy, Winter Texans are known for volunteering at schools and fundraising for local law enforcement and charities.
“One of the activities that this park supports very well is the bell ringing for the Salvation Army during the holiday season,” said Beilke.
Regardless of who they’re helping, one thing is for sure, they’re here to stay and Texas is happy about it.
“We’re all friends here and we have been now for many years,” said Beilke.
Welcome Home, RGV even has a Converted Texans program for any Winter Texans who choose to make the Valley their home permanently.
“We have the Converted Texan Program, because so many people even stay here after the winter months. The economic impact the converted Texans have on our economy, because they shop year-round, they go to the doctor year-round, so they’re the ones who really impact the community 24/7.”