Rolando Pablos

Rolando Pablos, CEO of the Borderplex Alliance, says the region needs a coordinated effort in economic development. 

The organization responsible for recruiting businesses to the El Paso area, the Borderplex Alliance, is forming a coalition to create a grand economic strategic plan for the region.

The North American Borderplex Prosperity Coalition will work with Austin consulting firm Angelou Economics and community stakeholders to create the economic strategy, which would be implemented at the beginning of next year.

“One of the things we have noticed is there is a lot of redundancy in (economic development) efforts in the region,” Borderplex Alliance CEO Rolando Pablos said. “They’re like ships crossing in the night.”

Although the details are still hazy, the economic report would, among other things, identify other economic efforts and plans under way right now so those efforts could be better coordinated, Pablos said.

The ultimate goal, he said, is to better integrate the region, which is comprised of three states and two nations.

“There is no room in economic development for infighting and turf battles,” Pablos said. “We need to get rid of it.”

In an email the Borderplex Alliance sent to stakeholders last month, the group said it intends to create “one unified regional economic strategic roadmap.”

The plan would “ensure strategic alignment of our collective efforts in our region” and help identify “regional assets; our common challenges and shared opportunities” and “strengthen linkages.”

Plan fatigue

When the email landed in Jerry Pacheco’s inbox, Pacheco, who has done economic development on the border for nearly 25 years, reacted with frustration.

“There are about seven plans going on in Doña Ana County alone, everything from land use, to colonias, to smart growth, to border development,” an incredulous Pacheco told El Paso Inc.

He is vice president and founder of the Border Industrial Association in nearby Santa Teresa in Doña Ana County, New Mexico. Pacheco has what one might call plan fatigue.

“I just wish people would ask us what is already in the works before they launch these efforts to create plans, because it has the propensity to create more confusion,” he said.

Santa Teresa, and San Jerónimo just across the border in Mexico, began crafting a big plan of their own a year ago, aiming to become the first master-planned, binational city along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“There are just absolutely too many plans going on,” Pacheco said.

He added, “There’s no way I am going to get involved with another plan here. We are too busy making things happen.”

The Borderplex Alliance was born out of the merger of the Paso del Norte Group and the El Paso Regional Economic Development Corporation, or REDCo.

Early on, REDCo hired a consultant that developed an economic plan that recommended, among other things, focusing business recruitment efforts on the life sciences, automotive and defense industries.

“We’ve always had reports, and they get shelved – we’ve seen this,” Pablos said. “Not only are we going to create a report, we are going to create a strategic plan with objectives, goals and tasks.”

Richard Daypub, president/ CEO of the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce, was cautiously optimistic about a regional economic plan, which he called a “good idea.”

“More than anything, there needs to be a commitment from all of the coalition members toward executing the plan and having a timetable and benchmarks for measurement attached to it,” Dayoub said. “That will be the ultimate test.”

The Borderplex Alliance has formed a 20-person steering committee, chaired by El Paso Electric’s director of economic research Pat Patton, to guide the development and implementation of the economic strategy.

Pablos declined to say how much the Borderplex Alliance is spending to produce the new strategy, but said it is “a substantial investment.”

Over the next few months, Angelou Economics will gather data via online surveys, through focus group sessions and one-on-one interviews.

For more information or to participate, call the Borderplex Alliance at (915) 298-1000.

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Email El Paso Inc. reporter Robert Gray at rsgray@elpasoinc.com or call (915) 534-4422 ext. 105.

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