From the largest livestock crossing on the border to a gummy bear factory that processes hundreds of thousands of gummy bears daily, the borderlands make about 7 percent of New Mexico’s gross receipts taxes, according to a report published by the state Legislative Finance Committee.
The report emphasized the need for collaboration between policy makers, local entities, the Economic Development Department, stakeholders and institutions of high learning to improve business capacity, including workforce, in the borderlands.
The weather is also not helping matters with a years-long drought leading to needed water and wastewater system improvements.
The drought is causing problems that have led industrial advocacy group Border Industrial Association President and CEO Jerry Pacheco to ask the legislature for funds to fix the water and wastewater infrastructure.
“As we see the weather change and water becomes just more expensive than platinum, we don’t want to get caught flat-footed and not have the water to keep our development going,” Pacheco said. “We’ve got to have investment in a water/wastewater system. That’s the only thing I’m going to ask from a monetary standpoint.”
The situation is so dire that Pacheco offered a warning.
“The day we can’t flush our toilets is the day we won’t be able to recruit another company,” Pacheco said. “We have so much momentum going right now that I think we have an opportunity.
The New Mexico State University Arrowhead Center is one of the places within higher education that is working to produce economic opportunity through innovation and entrepreneurship, the program’s mission states.
“We have programs and resources that support business creation, growth, leadership, education and training, technology commercialization and public private partnerships,” Arrowhead Center Director and CEO Kathy Hansen said.
The Arrowhead Center serves all of New Mexico, Hansen said.
“We employ business incubation and acceleration to have an economic impact and have several programs to assist startups and growing businesses,” Hansen said. “We believe strongly in focusing on the strengths and assets that can benefit the state and the border region, such as our Arrowhead Park, and expertise of our faculty.”
Arrowhead Park is an office park on NMSU’s main campus in Las Cruces.
“Another strategy we use is economic research where we use economic data and analysis to understand the impacts of economic initiatives and help guide future actions and investments,” Hansen said. “Finally, I can’t overemphasize the importance of our partnerships and relationships with local, state and national organizations in bringing resources to entrepreneurs and businesses.”
With innovation, infrastructure is needed, such as the Border Highway West, Joseph De La Rosa, the Senior Advisor for Global Trade and Infrastructure Investments for both the Department of Transportation and the Department of Economic Development said.
Border Highway West is expected to run from the eastern ports of entry in Texas to the western ports of entry in New Mexico, De La Rosa said.
The project is currently in a Phase B study which is expected to be completed in
The cost of the project is expected to be about $100 million, including a $45 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, De La Rosa said.
There is also work being done on the Doña Ana County International Jetport including improvements to runways/taxiways and custom facilities to accommodate commercial cargo.
De La Rosa also reported that this year the Legislature appropriated funding for economic development projects including $50 million for border planning and infrastructure projects, advanced energy and energy transition.
New Mexico is working with Chihuahua on the electric vehicle manufacturing corridor to try to attract electric vehicle component manufacturers.
Some of these manufacturers have shown an interest in operating in the borderlands,but De La Rosa said, “New Mexico on its own doesn’t have the resources to attract investment. But when it is combined with a regional perspective going from Chihuahua city up to Albuquerque, you start to have the workforce and the different components to develop automobiles in different sections and then assemble it in one central location.”
Commercial traffic has increased at New Mexico’s ports of entry since the pandemic stalled it in 2020.
“In 2022, nearly 170,000 commercial vehicles crossed through the Santa Teresa Port of Entry, a 4.4 percent increase over 2021 and a 20 percent increase since 2019 pre-pandemic crossings,” the LFC report stated.
Part of the reason for this includes Santa Teresa Point of Entry being certified in May 2021 to process HAZMAT cargo, which could only be done in El Paso.
New Mexico is also the only border state that allows for overweight cargo up to 96,000 pounds and 18 feet width from Mexico to enter and unload within a six mile radius, the report states.
Wait times are also lower with the up to a half hour wait at the Columbus Port of Entry and a 45-minute wait at Santa Teresa. The report states that the average wait time in El Paso is about two hours.