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Sunday, September 6, 2009

"The Perfect Storm at the NAFTA Institute"

"06/13/2009 04:09 pm"

"There’s a perfect storm brewing in and around southern Dona Ana County.

While much of the storm is off in the future, when combined with current conditions it will permanently transform Dona Ana County’s economy.  

Specifically I’m talking about the following:

  • The Santa Teresa International Border Crossing
  • The Dona Ana County International Airport
  • Access to I-10 and I-25
  • The relocation and expansion of Union Pacific’s railroad station
  • What will be one of the largest electronic manufacturing campuses in the world [FOXCONN]
  • And a new port in northern Baja

Considering the dramatic affect that this list will have on our future, we need to be very aware of what is currently happening and where we are going.

Punta Colonet

Located in northern Baja, this new port will become to Mexico what the New York and New Jersey port is to the United States.  In other words, this port will be massive.[Grupo Mexico is bidding on the 50 year contract to run the port and run the rail to Santa Teresa]

While it may seem logical that a port of this size would look to enter the U.S. at the closest international border crossing, southern California’s congestion and the strategic location of Santa Teresa may make it more efficient right here.   

So what do they see in southern Dona Ana County?

Union Pacific

Union Pacific is relocating its fueling station out of downtown El Paso and into Santa Teresa with plans on expanding into a block swap and inter-modal station [the station's planning is done, the BLM land swap with N.M. is done, and the next step is for N.M. to "auction the land" off (i.e. to U.P.)]

Why does this matter?  It matters because it will make railroad trade coming out of this area more efficient.  The railroad will someday be able to avoid both downtown El Paso and downtown Juarez, and the open land offers room for growth and minimal utility conflicts.

Our location is currently the northern end of the Sunset Line which starts in San Diego.  The route then opens up to the north, east and southeast.  When you factor in the interstates, the international airport and the border into the equation, Santa Teresa could become one of the most efficient locations to start your trade in the United States.


The world’s largest manufacturer of electronics sees the potential for profit here.

In fact, they have invested in 240 hectors west of Juarez where they’re planning a manufacturing campus complete with dormitories, restaurants and recreation areas.  They are planning to employ 10k employees in the next 2 years, and word on the street is they are looking to employ 30k in the long run.  By the end of their first year they will already employ over 5k.

Where are we going?

When you combine the expansions of these companies into Dona Ana County with the airport, the border crossing, and the interstates you get something that exists nowhere else in the United States or Mexico.  It truly is the perfect storm for the future of U.S./Mexico trade. [and it is being built within the 15 mile toxic-zone of ASARCO's stacks, without *anyone* declaring what the decade of illegal secret military/industrial waste-burning left in the Paso del Norte...and, without any effort to clean up dioxins, pcb's, polonium (radioactive lead), actinides (radioactive), etc.]

As manufactures look for the most efficient place to produce and distribute to the U.S. the Juarez/Santa Teresa area is destined to be at the top of the list.

To make this work we need to pay more attention to security on the border and consider more self imposed security measures.  We also can’t forget that there are legitimate concerns with NAFTA in the United States, and we cannot ignore that manufacturers choose Mexico for its cheap labor.

While I am not about to enter into a lengthy examination of the pros and cons of NAFT in this article, it seems like only yesterday (actually 1998-1999) that I was studying the affects of NAFTA with Neil Harvey at New Mexico State University.  Funny the way it is that today I am continuing to study this from a more unique position.

Dona Ana County's Role

And from my position today I’m looking at what Dona Ana County can do to benefit.  Most pressing is the need for the county and Sunland Park to step up the efforts to finalize the utility and land management organization that will serve Santa Teresa.

In addition, the county needs to coordinate with other organizations.  They include the New Mexico Department of Economic Development, the New Mexico Border Authority, the International Business Accelerator and the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance (among others).

Together we need to continue to recruit and market ourselves to the industries that are looking for a U.S. base of operations.  And we need to be prepared to offer housing and commercial space for companies looking to work on the U.S. side of the border.

To succeed it will take the hard work of each organization listed above and we all need to be committed to finding the right way to benefit from our unique position in this perfect storm."
[reprinted for fair use]


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