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rio grande region, texas

Time to Shine

Solar power projects heat up

Prescription for Growth Region evolves as biomedical hotbed

Hitting the Mark

White Sands, Fort Bliss growth propels local economy Sponsored by the Rio Grande Council of Governments | 2012


VAN HORN •tex as• Wide Open Spaces – Clean Mountain Air and Water Texas-Sized Business Opportunities Without the Stress … Wind Energy, Natural Gas, Agriculture … the Blue Sky’s the Limit! Located on I-10 Along the historic Union Pacific Railroad Van Horn is the Crossroads of the Texas Mountain Trail, Close to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Davis Mountains, Marfa, Big Bend National Park and El Paso

Give Us a Call or Visit Us Online

Town of Van Horn • P.O. Box 517 • Van Horn, TX 79855 (432) 283-2050 • (432) 283-2839 Fax www.vanhorntexas.org


business

Workstyle Hitting the Mark

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Prescription for Growth

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White Sands, Fort Bliss growth propels local economy

Region evolves as biomedical hotbed

Time to Shine

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Solar power projects heat up

Insight

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Overview

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Almanac

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Business Climate

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Education

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Health

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Livability

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Transportation

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Economic Profile

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On the Cover White Sands Missile Range is expanding its missile testing operations in White Sands, N.M. Photo by todd bennett

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Please recycle this magazine

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Digital Edition Education

BUILDING DREAMS FOR ASPIRING ARCHITECTS

A Wealth of Knowledge Regional colleges, universities prepare graduates for top industries, international markets

Through a new partnership between El Paso Community College and the Texas Tech College of Architecture, aspiring architects in El Paso can now earn a bachelor’s degree in architecture. The program, which began in 2007, is the first of its kind and enables students to attend school locally at Texas Tech College of Architecture in El Paso. After completing 131 credit hours, students obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in architecture. The next step is to transfer to the Lubbock campus and earn a master’s degree in the field. The program is creating more opportunity for the region’s Hispanic population; 95 percent of the 40 students who enrolled in the program in 2007 were Hispanic.

Story by Jessica Walker • Photography by Todd Bennett

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ducation and workforce development are high priorities in the Rio Grande Region, where a variety of institutions offer challenging courses and first-class research- and tech-based programs designed to prepare students to work in the region’s key industries as well as international markets. The University of Texas at El Paso offers high-quality graduate opportunities including Master of Business Administration programs through the College of Business Administration. In 2010, the college was named the top graduate business school for Hispanics in the U.S. by Hispanic Business magazine. In addition, the university’s School of Nursing was named the top nursing school for awarding bachelor’s degrees to Hispanics in the country by The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education magazine in 2011. “The School of Nursing has a long history in El Paso,” says Elias Provencio-Vasquez, Ph.D., the school’s dean. “Eighty-five percent of our students are Mexican or of Mexican-American descent, and 60 percent of the individuals who graduate from the program practice as nurses in the area.”

BIOSCIENCE, AEROSPACE RESEARCH Nearby in Las Cruces, New Mexico State University is the only institution in the state offering an honors college and programs in aerospace, industrial and surveying engineering.

NMSU, ranked among the top 100 colleges for awarding degrees to Hispanics, is also known for being a NASA Space Grant College, as well as for its innovative research in information and biosciences, natural resources, aerospace and U.S.-Mexico border development. “A personalized, small-college setting combined with the resources of a large research university allows NMSU to offer curricula designed to encourage student learning and success,” says Minerva Baumann, the university’s Director of Media Relations. NMSU is also home to the Arrowhead Center, which provides workforce training. In 2011, the center developed a partnership with the White Sands Missile Range to collaborate on the development of military and civilian applications for national security, aerospace, technology and alternative energy fields. Sul Ross State Ross University in Alpine also received national recognition in 2011; the school was named one of the top 100 institutions for Hispanic students by The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education magazine. REGION’S COMMUNITY COLLEGES Offering six locations throughout the region, El Paso Community College serves approximately 30,000 students and is the No. 1 awarder of associate degrees to Hispanic students in the nation. The school provides more than 130 programs of

The University of Texas El Paso was recently recognized as the county’s top graduate business school for Hispanics.

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Ri o G r a n d e R egi o n , T exa s 201 2 Edition , volum e 2 editorial project manager Emily McMackin Content Director Bill McMeekin Proofreading Manager Raven Petty Content Coordinator Jessica Walker Staff Writer Kevin Litwin Contributing writers M.V. GREENE, DAN HIEB, MELANIE HILL, JESSICA WALKER, BETSY WILLIAMS Senior Graphic Designers Laura Gallagher, Janine Maryland, Kris Sexton, Vikki Williams Graphic Designers Rachael Gerringer, Taylor nunley Senior Photographers Jeff Adkins, Brian McCord Staff Photographers Todd Bennett, Antony Boshier color imaging technician alison hunter Integrated Media Manager Brandon Parker Ad Production Manager Katie Middendorf Ad Traffic Assistants Krystin Lemmon, Patricia Moisan Chairman Greg Thurman President/Publisher Bob Schwartzman Executive Vice President Ray Langen Senior V.P./Sales Todd Potter Senior V.P./Operations Casey Hester Senior V.P./Client Development Jeff Heefner Senior V.P./business Development Scott Templeton Senior V.P./Agribusiness Publishing kim holmberg V.P./business Development clay perry V.P./external communications Teree Caruthers V.P./Visual Content Mark Forester V.P./Content Operations Natasha Lorens V.P./travel publishing susan chappell V.P./Sales rhonda graham, herb Harper, Jarek Swekosky Controller Chris Dudley Senior Accountant Lisa Owens Accounts Payable Coordinator Maria McFarland Accounts Receivable Coordinator Diana Guzman Sales Support Coordinator Alex Marks Sales Support project manager sara quint system administrator Daniel cantrell

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Rio Grande Region: Where Business Is Headed an eight-county, two-state, two country region creates a dynamic economy Sunny skies and a production-driven environment are attracting big business to the region. Here are 10 things that could benefit your company:

El Paso and New Mexico State University collectively conduct more than $200 million in annual research.

1. Location. More than 70 Fortune 500 companies enjoy

10. Enviable Forecasts. With more than 300 days

a distinct distribution and intermodal advantage because of the region’s position on the U.S.-Mexico border.

2. Major Manufacturing. Take a great business climate, add a robust supplier network and a skilled workforce of more than 200,000 production workers, and you get the fourth-largest manufacturing center on the continent. 3. Driving Supply. The region keeps production rolling for six of the world’s top 10 automotive supply companies.

9. Millions in Research. The University of Texas at

of yearly sunshine, words like “blizzard” and “hurricane” just aren’t in the forecast. Imagine what that could mean for your business. For more on the region’s business climate, contact: El Paso Regional Economic Development Corp. 201 E. Main St., Suite 1711 El Paso, TX 79901 (915) 534-0523 www.elpasoredco.org

4. Safety First. El Paso ranks as second-safest among

The Rio Grande Region

U.S. cities with a population of more than 500,000. Think of it as a large city with a hometown feel. (Source: CQ Press, November 2009.)

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5. Healthy Future. The Paul L. Foster School of Medicine is the first medical school to open on the U.S. side of the U.S.-Mexico border and only the second fouryear, research-focused medical school in the U.S. to be accredited in the last 25 years.

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of the region’s near-limitless outdoor activities such as hiking at Hueco Tanks State Park, a nearby rock-climbing and bouldering mecca that attracts climbers from Asia and Europe.

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7. Golden Discovery. The National Science Foundation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chose the University of Texas at El Paso as one of 11 universities worldwide to perform environmental research involving nanotechnology. The UTEP chemical-research group discovered gold nanoparticle formations in living plants.

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8. Tomorrow’s Military. The region is proud to be home

to Fort Bliss, Holloman Air Force Base and White Sands Missile Range, all of which comprises the largest military complex in the U.S.

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Almanac

Following the Mission Trail

P h o t o C o u r t es y o f S pa c ep o r t A m er i c a

For history and architecture buffs, El Paso’s Mission Trail offers a day trip to several 17thand 18th-century sites with historic and cultural significance. Housed in an 1850s Territorial Style building, the Los Portales Museum in San Elizario features exhibits displaying the legacy of San Elizario, which includes the First Thanksgiving, the Spanish presidio and the San Elizario Salt War of 1877. Another must-see stop is Tigua Indian Cultural Center, displaying five centuries of Pueblo history. Mission Trail visitors can also visit the Licon Dairy and can stop by the dairy’s petting zoo and fishing pond.

Beyond the Clouds Forty miles north of Las Cruces, N.M., Spaceport America is making the adventure of space flight available to the public. The facility Spaceport is building will be the first purpose-built commercial spaceport in the world, and its design is being created with the goal of producing a minimal impact on the environment. Funded and operated by the state of New Mexico, Spaceport America has hosted more than 11 test flights since opening in 2006.

Pepper Pride Each Labor Day, spicy food fans descend upon Hatch to take part in the New Mexico town’s annual Chile Festival. This sizzling celebration regularly draws more than 20,000 chile connoisseurs to enjoy a smorgasbord of chile preparations using peppers and recipes from around the world. According to a BBC World News report, Hatch is home of The World’s Best Chile Pepper, which is prepared by roasting it over an open flame. During each year’s chile season, dozens of vendors line the streets to roast this local chile pepper. With so much invested in chile, Hatch is known as the Chile Capital of the World.

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The Currency of Time P h o t o C o u r t es y o f The L o n g N o w F o u n d at i o n

Time is money – and recognizing the importance of observing and documenting the passage of time for posterity, Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, along with inventor Danny Hillis and industrial designer Alexander Rose, have pooled their resources to build a gear-driven clock housed in a limestone mountain near Van Horn, Texas. Designed to keep time for 10,000 years until it stops in 12011, the clock ticks and the century hand clicks forward once per year – and a cuckoo pops out at the end of each millennium, symbolizing another 1,000 years of survival for the earth.

P h o t o C o u r t es y o f B e n Chr i s m a n

Less is More

Where the West Lives On Tourists can see what it was like to live in a 19th-century border town with a visit to Mesilla, which once served as a major stop for travelers. Though Old Mesilla’s popularity died years ago, this ghost town was preserved in its original form, enabling visitors to see structures like the Mesilla courtroom, where Billy the Kid stood trial for murder, and the Mesilla Plaza. Old Mesilla may be small by modern standards, but it is becoming known as the Santa Fe of the South.

Inspiration for fine art can present itself in any location. Cities like Paris, New York and Los Angeles may be typical art hubs, but Marfa is the true home of the modern abstract art scene. Examples of this artistic form can be found from artist Donald Judd’s local minimalist works to the mock Prada store designed by Berlin artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset. Marfa served as the canvas for Judd as he built structures and converted buildings around town into exhibits projecting minimalist principles on a grand scale, exceeding the confines of traditional art galleries. Located along U.S. 90, the region’s mock Prada store also achieves this objective with its depiction of a minimalist representation of a bare designer store. P h o t o C o u r t es y o f D o n a l d J u dd © J u dd F o u n d at i o n Ar c h i v es 2 01 2

Silver in Shafter With the value of precious metals on the rise, silver producers are searching for fresh sources – and they have found it in Shafter, Texas. Canadian-based Aurcana Corporation is reviving a silver mine in Shafter that has been idle for nearly 70 years. The company expects to employ 180 people in the mining operation and produce 3.8 million ounces of silver annually once production is under way. When the silver is mined, Aurcana will use the ore to produce 800-pound silver bars that will be sold commercially. b u s i n e ssc l i m a t e . c o m / r i o - g r a n d e

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T o dd B e n n e t t

Global Companies in the Borderplex An array of nationally and internationally known companies operate in the Borderplex, including: • ADP • Bosch • Datamark • Delphi • Dish Network • Electrolux • FoxConn • Inventec • Lear • Lexmark • Helen of Troy Corporation • Honeywell • Pegatron • Western Refining

Bedrock of Prosperity Rio Grande Region is a magnet for new investment and jobs Story by Betsy Williams

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nvestors and industries are flocking to the Rio Grande Region, where growth in the defense, manufacturing, biomedical and renewable energy sectors are fueling the economy and paving the way for a prosperous future. Critical competitive advantages, including location, land, labor and low costs, have drawn hundreds of new companies to the Borderplex – which encompasses El Paso, Texas, Las Cruces, N.M. and Ciudad Juarez in Chihuahua, Mexico – and more are on the way.

Regional leaders have identified industry trends, created a targeted marketing approach and fostered a collaborative work environment with resources and partners in the area, says Davin Lopez, president and CEO of New Mexico’s Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance. Targeted Markets “We spend quite a bit of our time building upon the economic anchors that make our region unique,” Lopez says. These anchors encompass everything

Traffic flows along I-10 in El Paso, TX.

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from the commercial port of entry with Mexico in Santa Teresa to Spaceport America and shared airspace, the region’s agricultural base and its assets of sun and land. “As a result, target markets include border manufacturing and logistics, aerospace, food processing and renewable energy,” Lopez continues. “Building a business proposition around these anchors allows us to compete for business based on infrastructure and assets.” Few areas have the strong core of economic development partners that share such aligned interests. “We are one of the largest international border communities in the world,” says Bob Cook, president of the El Paso Regional Economic Development Corporation, noting the region’s metropolitan population of 3 million. “We have a very manufacturing-oriented economy, with more than 225,000 people employed in the manufacturing sector, making us one of the top 10 manufacturing centers in North America.” Borderplex Powers Local Economy Automotive and manufacturing in the Borderplex power the local economy, and production and employment at Juarez maquiladoras

and their El Paso suppliers are on the rise. Production sharing across the border is an attractive option for global companies, like Delphi, Lear and Bosch, that want to maximize labor and profit. U.S. merchandise exports passing through El Paso ports last year totaled $29.2 billion. In 2011, El Paso and Juarez officials signed a letter of intent with Freight Shuttle Partners to build the world’s first monorail for shipping cargo across an international border. The project will encompass an estimated 15-mile stretch of bi-directional “guideway,” connecting secure customs facilities in El Paso and Juarez. The project will be financed by the private sector, minimally costing an estimated $140 million. The labor market is young and educated, with a high percentage of bilingual workers, and the region consistently appears on coveted Top 10 lists, ranging from the nation’s safest large city (El Paso) to Best Performing Cities (Las Cruces). El Paso also topped Newsweek’s list of Can-Do Capitals and was one of four U.S. communities presented with the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement by the EPA in 2011.

By the Numbers

200,000+

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People employed in manufacturing in the Borderplex

Region is North America’s 10th largest manufacturing center

110,000+

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Workers employed in automotive manufacturing in the region

Top 10 global automotive supply companies with operations in region

54,000

18%

Workers employed in electronics manufacturing in the region

Percentage of U.S.-Mexico trade shipped through the Borderplex

Source: www.elpasoredco.org

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Forward March Expansions at Fort Bliss, White Sands Missile Range boost the Rio Grande Region’s economy Story by M.V. Greene • Photography by Todd Bennett

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f there is a paradise among U.S. military installations, it must be located in the sprawling Rio Grande Region. This regional military complex comprises some of the military’s big-league bases including Fort Bliss, Texas, the White Sands Missile Range and Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico – all of which cover more than 7,100 square miles of ground and air territory and provides the nation with one of the world’s largest and incomparable concentrations of military readiness. Multiple Critical Missions In addition to the major bases, a variety of critical missions and activities take place in the southern New Mexico-West Texas area, including land and air unit joint training, professional military

education, maintenance and repair, and aerospace initiatives, as well as research, development, test and evaluation activities. Federal government agencies, including the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, have a key presence in the area, along with a network of highly specialized defense contractors. What this means for the region and communities stretching from Las Cruces, N.M., to El Paso, Texas, is vibrant economic activity, forward-thinking academic institutions, skilled technical workforces, and specialized manufacturing facilities and distribution networks. The region can expect a solid economic future, as well as defense installations that are expanding, not retreating. Fort Bliss spends about $3.9 billion per year in the area

White Sands Missile Range is expanding its missile testing in Dona Anna County, N.M.

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Fort Bliss is the new home of the Army’s 1st Armored Division.

on military payroll for its 32,000 soldiers. Holloman estimates its total economic impact on the region was $693.2 million, accounting for payroll for more than 11,000 military and civilian personnel, contract expenditure and the value of job creation. White Sands employs about 7,000 people on the range in many highly skilled technical occupations.

Holloman Air Force Base employs 11,000.

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P h o t o C o u r t es y o f U . S . A i r F o r c e ph o t o b y S e n i o r A i r m a n J o h n D . S t r o n g II

Fort Bliss’ New Role In May 2011, Fort Bliss officially became the new home of the Army’s historic 1st Armored Division, which had been housed in Wiesbaden, Germany. The base, covering more than 1.1 million acres in New Mexico and Texas and headquartered in El Paso, is expected to see its military population swell to 100,000 by 2013. To support that expansion, the Army is spending billions of dollars to construct new, modern facilities for soldiers and their families. Maj. Gen. Dana J.H. Pittard, Fort Bliss commanding general, says he expects the expansion to


forge even greater ties to the region. “Fort Bliss is the largest employer in El Paso and a major contributor to the local economy,” Pittard says. “Several thousand jobs on our base are filled by local residents. Our units, organizations and individuals are also involved in the local community in various ways. They sit on boards, we have programs with schools and we partner with local colleges on higher education programs.” Net Zero Project Additionally, Fort Bliss is part of the Army’s groundbreaking Net Zero energy conservation pilot program. Under the program, selected installations around the country are working on sustainability projects to reduce consumption of energy, water or waste by 2020. The aim of the program is to move the base to greater energy self-sufficiency, while serving as a model for Army installations worldwide, says B.J. Tomlinson, Fort Bliss renewable energy and sustainability program manager. “The whole concept of energy security doesn’t just apply to war zones,” Tomlinson says. “It also applies here at installations.” White Sands Expanding Range Use White Sands Missile Range in Dona Ana County is a research and training facility for the Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as private and public organizations. Army Col. John G. Ferrari, range commander, says White Sands will expand its footprint as the nation’s leading missile and aerospace installation to include more operational and developmental testing and live fire activities that will rotate in thousands more service members and military contractors. “The range is going to become more multifunctional with more users coming down the road,” he says. “It will be a much more diverse user group than in the past.”

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Prescription for Growth Rio Grande Region evolves into a biomedical hotbed

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Story by Melanie Hill • Photography by Todd Bennett

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cience and health care are evolving in the Rio Grande Region, producing more biomedical jobs, research and graduates than ever before. “If you look at the past 12 or 13 years, the industry’s evolution has been striking,” says Noemi Rojas, communications director for the Medical Center of the Americas Foundation. More than a decade ago, a local economic summit set forth a vision to position the region as a global leader of health delivery, education and research, specializing in issues unique to Hispanic, border and military populations. Since then, the approval of the El Paso Children’s Hospital (opening in 2012), $1.25 million in medical scholarship funds, and the establishment of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Medical School, University Medical Center of El Paso and the Medical Center of the Americas Foundation have placed the region firmly on that path. El Paso’s most recent commitment to growing the region’s biomedical industry includes an allocation of 12 acres and more than $3 million to the MCA Foundation, an organization anchored by UMC and TTUHSC’s Paul L. Foster School of Medicine. By 2016, leaders hope to house a biotech incubator and commercialization center on the property to support the establishment of a biomedical research park that would focus on border health and treatment for combat injuries.

doctors – many of whom share a desire to practice medicine on the border. The school recently added the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing, and its programs receive support at both the local and national levels. A $1.5 million grant from the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas will help TTUHSC and the University Medical Center establish a Cancer Clinical Research Core Facility. In 2011, the medical school received a $945,000 grant to develop a primary-care program for medical students on the U.S.-Mexico border, which also serves as a hotbed for genetics research. “El Paso, in part because of its relative geographical isolation, tends to have large

Ideal for Combat, Genetics Research Expansions at Fort Bliss are expected to create even more research opportunities in the region for post-traumatic stress disorders, brain injury, prosthetics and advanced operational procedures. The fort is home to the William Beaumont Army Medical Center, which is currently undergoing a $1 billion renovation that includes the newly opened, holistic Warrior Transition Complex for wounded soldiers. TTUHSC, which opened the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine in 2009, continues to attract aspiring Left: Aspiring doctors train at the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine Right: The school attracts interns interested in working on the border.

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multigenerational families, which makes it a terrific place to do genetic research,” says Charles Miller III, Ph.D., chair of TTUHSC’s Department of Biomedical Science. “What we learn through research in El Paso will become increasingly important for the health and economic well-being of Texas, and really every major city in America, within 20 years.” Rewarding for Doctors Physicians and El Paso natives Angel and Briana Garcia returned to their hometown for residency training in 2008. “We plan on staying in El Paso for the same reason we decided to come back,” says Briana Garcia, M.D. “It’s a great place to work since there’s such a need for doctors. There is also the development of UMC into a tertiary center that adds another level of medical complexity.” As the primary teaching hospital of the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, The University Medical Center of El Paso is a research powerhouse and acute-care teaching facility. Debabrata Mukherjee, M.D., left the prestigious Cleveland Clinic to join UMC as chief of cardiovascular medicine in 2010. “My goal is to make this the dominant academic medical center in the region, focusing on world-class patient care, innovative research and leaders in graduate medical education,” says Mukherjee, who will implement UMC’s cardiovascular fellowship program in 2012. “The growth in military installations, science investment and bi-national manufacturing makes the region a hub of economic activity, and is paving the way for even more investment and expansion.”

Clockwise from top: Students engage in a discussion at the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine; Training at the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing; A lecture at the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine

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Energy/Technology

Hatch Industrial Park’s 5-megawatt solar power plant

Time to Shine Rio Grande Region taps solar power potential Story by Dan Hieb • Photography by Todd Bennett

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l Paso, Texas, drew international acclaim in summer 2011 for its dogged ability to withstand the worst drought in generations. Building that resiliency took two decades of hard work and planning. Now, the Rio Grande Region has embarked on a new project – to become a leader in alternative energy. The Chihuahuan Desert has already started to bloom with the first fruits of those efforts. A 5-megawatt solar power plant built and operated by NextEra Energy Resources at Hatch Industrial Park and a 20-megawatt plant built by NRG Energy Inc. near Santa Teresa, N.M., came online in summer 2011. Both plants sell their power to El Paso Electric,

which is working to boost the percentage of power it gets from renewable energy. A Renewable Energy Corridor Jim Hayhoe, president of Solar America Consultants, helped with each of the projects and says they are only the tip of the iceberg. Just west of Hatch, in Nutt, N.M., plans are under way for an 80-megawatt solar project. And it’s not just solar: El Paso Electric’s 1.3-megawatt Hueco Mountain Wind Ranch continues to provide clean power, and the Bureau of Land Management is expected to issue licenses for geothermal projects along Interstate 25, Hayhoe says. He is working with government officials to market the area as a renewable energy corridor.

Kings of Water Conservation Preserving and expanding access to water in the Rio Grande Region is Ed Archuleta’s mission. He oversees El Paso Water Utilities, which became a poster child in 2011 for its foresight in preparing for drought. “It’s like in any situation,” he says. “You can either let it happen, make it happen or ask ‘what happened?’”

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Archuleta and other officials made it happen by offering incentives for residents to lower their water consumption. The utility also invested in the world’s largest inland desalination plant. The plant at Fort Bliss, Texas, is capable of pulling water from a brackish aquifer and turning it into up to 27.5 million gallons of fresh water a day.


“There’s no question, this region is very motivated to move in that direction,” Hayhoe says. “All the projects are very strongly supported by the people here in local government.” The partnerships are win-win, Hayhoe points out. In the case of the solar projects in Hatch and Santa Teresa, the local government leased the land to the companies that built the projects, which then sell the energy to El Paso Electric so the utility can meet its renewable energy goals. Municipalities end up getting not only clean power, but also a steady new source of general fund revenue, thanks to the leases. Best of all, it puts the desert to use. Land that has sat empty for decades is now producing power and profits. Diverse Technologies The two new solar plants have another benefit: They deploy different technologies. When it came online, the Hatch plant was the largest concentrated photovoltaic plant in the country, designed to use mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto the powergenerating silicon – sort of like using a magnifying glass to focus the sun. The 20-megawatt Roadrunner plant built by NRG Energy is more conventional. One challenge in working with solar plants is the amount of power they generate can vary because of the movement of clouds across the sky, says Rocky Miracle, El Paso Electric’s senior vice president for corporate planning and development. As the power generation rises and falls at the plants, the utility will be looking for the most effective ways to distribute the power. Figuring out the best way to tap into the solar power will play a key role in New Mexico’s economic future. The state has the second-highest potential in the country for solar power generation. And with panel prices falling and fossil fuel costs up, the technology is already on the verge of being price competitive. In fact, when accounting for externalities like pollution costs, it already is, Hayhoe says. One externality that is especially pertinent for those living in the Chihuahuan Desert is water use. NRG Energy says that its 20-megawatt plant will only consume as much water each year as two average suburban homes. Coal-fired plants currently supply the vast majority of New Mexico’s power, but a 500-megawatt coal plant can use that much water in a day. El Paso Electric is using its own incentives – $2.5 million worth – to encourage residents and businesses to install solar panels. Hayhoe is among those who have done so. One benefit is that his home sometimes generates more power than it consumes – and El Paso Electric pays 12.5 cents a watt to buy it back. “Sometimes in the winter, I get a check,” he says.

Energetic Efforts UTEP incubator to develop clean energy technologies The University of Texas at El Paso has been given the green light to develop an incubator for clean energy technologies. The university received a $200,000 state grant in 2011 to form and help expand clean energy companies. That incubator is part of a broader The Hub of Human Innovation incubator. Both the Clean Energy Incubator and The Hub are housed in downtown El Paso. The Hub focuses mainly on developing biomedical, border security, defense, aerospace and advanced manufacturing technologies. “We believe that our Clean Energy Incubator will have an impact on economic development in our region,” says Gary Williams, director of UTEP’s Center for Research Entrepreneurship and Innovative Enterprises. Williams says opportunities for clean energy studies at UTEP are abundant in areas including bioenergy, biofuels, efficient lighting, electric vehicles, geothermal, sewage recycling, solar, water purification and wind. The incubator is initially utilizing technologies for testing from regional agencies, such as Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories in New Mexico, Fort Bliss, the city of El Paso and some factories in Juárez, Mexico. The UTEP incubator is actually modeled after UT-Austin’s Austin Technology Incubator, which in the past two years has started 15 companies and helped those companies attract nearly $20 million in capital investment.

Sustainable Fuel Research at NMSU Students in New Mexico State University’s new Algal Bioenergy Program are researching ways to turn algae into a sustainable source for jet fuel. The program is part of a $2.3 million grant funded by the Air Force and a $44 million study funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. The U.S. Department of Defense uses 4.6 billion gallons of jet fuel each year, and NMSU scientists are studying algae cultivation, harvesting, extracting, refining and fuel testing. New Mexico is an ideal state to grow algae because of its high-intensity sunshine and access to brackish water supplies, which algae thrives on. – Kevin Litwin b u s i n e ssc l i m a t e . c o m / r i o - g r a n d e

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Education

A Wealth of Knowledge Regional colleges, universities prepare graduates for top industries, international markets Story by Jessica Walker • Photography by Todd Bennett

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ducation and workforce development are high priorities in the Rio Grande Region, where a variety of institutions offer challenging courses and first-class research- and tech-based programs designed to prepare students to work in the region’s key industries as well as international markets. The University of Texas at El Paso offers high-quality graduate opportunities including Master of Business Administration programs through the College of Business Administration. In 2010, the college was named the top graduate business school for Hispanics in the U.S. by Hispanic Business magazine. In addition, the university’s School of Nursing was named the top nursing school for awarding bachelor’s degrees to Hispanics in the country by The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education magazine in 2011. “The School of Nursing has a long history in El Paso,” says Elias Provencio-Vasquez, Ph.D., the school’s dean. “Eighty-five percent of our students are Mexican or of Mexican-American descent, and 60 percent of the individuals who graduate from the program practice as nurses in the area.”

Bioscience, Aerospace Research Nearby in Las Cruces, New Mexico State University is the only institution in the state offering an honors college and programs in aerospace, industrial and surveying engineering.

NMSU, ranked among the top 100 colleges for awarding degrees to Hispanics, is also known for being a NASA Space Grant College, as well as for its innovative research in information and biosciences, natural resources, aerospace and U.S.-Mexico border development. “A personalized, small-college setting combined with the resources of a large research university allows NMSU to offer curricula designed to encourage student learning and success,” says Minerva Baumann, the university’s Director of Media Relations. NMSU is also home to the Arrowhead Center, which provides workforce training. In 2011, the center developed a partnership with the White Sands Missile Range to collaborate on the development of military and civilian applications for national security, aerospace, technology and alternative energy fields. Sul Ross State Ross University in Alpine also received national recognition in 2011; the school was named one of the top 100 institutions for Hispanic students by The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education magazine. Region’s Community Colleges Offering six locations throughout the region, El Paso Community College serves approximately 30,000 students and is the No. 1 awarder of associate degrees to Hispanic students in the nation. The school provides more than 130 programs of

The University of Texas El Paso was recently recognized as the county’s top graduate business school for Hispanics.

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Building Dreams for Aspiring Architects Through a new partnership between El Paso Community College and the Texas Tech College of Architecture, aspiring architects in El Paso can now earn a bachelor’s degree in architecture. The program, which began in 2007, is the first of its kind and enables students to attend school locally at Texas Tech College of Architecture in El Paso. After completing 131 credit hours, students obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in architecture. The next step is to transfer to the Lubbock campus and earn a master’s degree in the field. The program is creating more opportunity for the region’s Hispanic population; 95 percent of the 40 students who enrolled in the program in 2007 were Hispanic.

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Dual Credit, Early College Programs Local high school students can get an early start on their college educations by enrolling in Dual Credit Programs and Early College High School Initiatives, offered through various higher education institutions in the region including NMSU, EPCC and DACC. NMSU’s Dual Credit Program enables students to earn both high school and college credit at little to no cost; typically, tuition is free, books are provided, and general fees are waived. EPCC’s Dual Credit Program also allows high school juniors and seniors to take college-level courses while earning high school and college credit. Additionally, the school offers an Early College High School Initiative, enabling students to obtain a high school diploma and an associate degree in four years. DACC provides a Dual Credit Program, too, which is available for junior and senior high school students; those who enroll in the program can earn high school elective credit as well as college credit.

Top: Students collaborate on a project at the Arrowhead Center, which provides workforce training at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M. Bottom: UTEP’s newly constructed Health Sciences and Nursing building

PASSPORT

to Brilliant Business Success!

International Border Crossing and Commercial Trade Zone

Safe and Convenient Access to Mexico and the U.S.

DISCOVER GREAT COMMERCE OPPORTUNITIES The 4B Development Corporation of Presidio

DCOP

study and approximately 350 courses designed for personal enrichment and continuing education. Doña Ana Community College also serves area students, offering three campuses and a Small Business Development Center. Because many of the college’s programs have articulation agreements with NMSU departments that allow courses to transfer smoothly, DACC’s proximity to NMSU is a major draw for students. In 2012, DACC will open two new learning centers in the region and continue expansions at its East Mesa campus.

P.O. Box 1899 Presidio, TX 79845 (432) 229-3517 DCOP@cityofpresidio.com

www.cityofpresidio.com visit our

advertisers Camino Real Hotel www.caminorealelpaso.com

Holiday Inn Express – El Paso Central www.hiexpress.com/elpasocentral

City of Marfa www.marfacc.com

Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino www.innofthemountaingods.com

Development Corporation of Presidio www.cityofpresidio.com El Paso International Airport www.elpasotexas.gov El Paso Regional Economic Development Corporation www.elpasoredco.org

Rio Grande Council of Governments www.riocog.org Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center – Paul L. Foster School of Medicine www.ttuhsc.edu/fostersom Town of Van Horn www.vanhorntexas.org

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Health

Well-Treated Cutting-edge care abounds in the Rio Grande Region Story by Melanie Hill • Photography by Todd Bennett

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ationally ranked medical centers, the latest technology and a growing selection of services make the Rio Grande Region a picture of health. University Medical Center of El Paso gives patients access to quality physicians and the most up-to-date clinical information. “Our staff brings evidence-based practices to the UMC campus, so our patients are the beneficiaries of the latest medical breakthroughs,” says Diana Fancher, R.N., chief nursing officer at UMC. UMC is undergoing its largest renovation, with expanded emergency and intensive care departments, a new cardiovascular service line and more. In 2012, UMC will open the city’s first women’s hospital and a separately licensed children’s hospital.

MMC Cancer Center, staffed by board-certified physicians in medical oncology and hematology and radiation oncology. MountainView Regional Medical Center in Las Cruces includes emergency care, a Heart Center and more. Next door, patients enjoy easy access to the MountainView Outpatient Surgery Center.

expanded health services, accolades El Paso’s Sierra Providence Health Network includes four specialty care hospitals: Providence Memorial Hospital, Sierra Medical Center, Sierra Providence East Medical Center and Regional Children’s Hospital at Providence. SPHN earned its ninth consecutive National Consumer Choice award in 2011 and launched a med flight air transport program. “The air transport program will raise patient services to greater heights for those in the region,” says John Harris, Sierra Providence Health Network president. Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare includes two HCAowned hospitals in the El Paso region. Las Palmas Medical Center is the only regional kidney transplant center, while sister facility Del Sol Medical Center recently received five-star ratings from HealthGrades. More specialty care In the Mesilla Valley, patients turn to Memorial Medical Center of Las Cruces. The facility offers the

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Doctors at El Paso’s University Medical Center consult with a patient.

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Livability

Distinctive Districts Cultural attractions, downtown revivals enhance quality of life in Rio Grande Region Mills Plaza District in El Paso, Texas P h o t o C o u r t es y o f M a r c B u h r i g

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Story by Kevin Litwin

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he Rio Grande Region enjoys more than 300 days of sunshine a year. Even its winter days average 50 degrees. That idyllic climate combined with an abundance of diverse attractions and affordable communities add to the quality of life within the region. On the New Mexico side, one of those communities is Las Cruces, which has been ranked as a top retirement area and offers an array of art galleries and museums. Las Cruces is New Mexico’s second largest city and boasts attractions like the Zuhl Geological Collection at New Mexico State University. NMSU is now adding another museum and more attractions. “The university is currently constructing a Museum of Nature and Science to grace the downtown area, plus adding a new performing arts venue on campus,” says Chris Faivre, media manager for the Las Cruces Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Also occurring within the city is a concentrated revitalization of the entire downtown district, spurred by an eventual major reopening of Main Street.” Faivre says that even though Las Cruces has a population of 100,000 and is located in a region of 200,000 people, the city retains a laid-back, small-town feel. “We’re adding more and more amenities all the time that add to our quality of life, yet Las Cruces is still a community where it takes only 15 minutes to drive from end to end,” he says. Cultural, Natural Attractions On the Texas side of the Rio Grande Region, El Paso offers all the amenities of a bigger metropolis and the best of urban living as well as natural wonders and room to explore. Its rich culture includes museums, theaters and live music, including El Paso Symphony – the

state’s oldest operating orchestra group – along with the restored Plaza Theatre listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For outdoor recreation, Franklin Mountains State Park is in the center of El Paso, and a Riverpark and Trail System runs along sections of the Rio Grande River within the city. Also within a short drive is Hueco Tanks State Park, known for its ancient rock paintings. C’mon Downtown As for its downtown, El Paso’s district is undergoing a huge revitalization effort with construction having begun on an $8 million high-end housing complex to entice young professionals to move downtown. Also, Mills Plaza District, a 37,000-square-foot promenade with waterfalls, shade trees, portable seating and regional plants, is being developed to encourage urban living and bring more businesses, restaurants and residents downtown. Endless Entertainment In other western Texas and southern New Mexico counties and towns in the region, visitors can find casinos at destinations such as Inn of the Mountain Gods and Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino. They can also enjoy skiing at Ski Apache and Cloudcroft, peruse the quirky art oasis of Marfa or escape to an upscale Southwestern getaway at Lajitas Golf Resort & Spa. The region is home to beautiful and adventurous locales such as the Robledo Mountains in Dona Ana County, Lincoln National Forest, the Gila Wilderness and Elephant Butte Lake State Park. Other attractions range from a taste of cowboy life at Historic Prude Ranch to numerous farmers markets, wineries, rodeos, sports venues, ghost towns and mountainside observatories throughout the region.

Adventure Awaits Seven Must-See Sights in the Rio Grande Region The Rio Grande Region is home to a variety of distinctive destinations including: White Sands National Monument: White Sands National Monument guards the largest gypsum dune field in the world. Visitors can walk through a portion of the monument or enjoy a tour. Big Bend National Park: Big Bend National Park is home to mountains, desert and 244 miles of the Rio Grande River. The park also includes more than 150 miles of trails perfect for hikers and backpackers. McDonald Observatory: McDonald Observatory, located at The University of Texas at Austin, is known for the astronomical research that takes place there. The facility’s visitors center hosts tours, solar viewing programs and more. New Mexico Museum of Space History: Teaching visitors about the history, science and technology of space, the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamorgordo features an International Space Hall of Fame, exhibits and an IMAX theater. Guadalupe Peak: Guadalupe Peak sits atop the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Hikers can make the trek up and down the peak, which covers 8 1/2 miles. Marfa Mystery Lights: These multicolored, basketball-size lights can be seen after sunset at the Marfa Lights Viewing Area, located 9 miles east of Marfa on Highway 90. Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site and Three Rivers Petroglyph Site: Both of these sites feature rock paintings created thousands of years ago by Native Americans. – Jessica Walker b u s i n e ssc l i m a t e . c o m / r i o - g r a n d e

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Transportation

Ease of Access New entry port, Union Pacific hub expected to boost transportation in region Story by Kevin Litwin • Photography by Todd Bennett

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nterstate access, five border crossings plus international rail and air service give the Rio Grande Region several transportation advantages. A rail expansion by Union Pacific, along with the construction of a port-of-entry bridge between Tornillo, Texas, and Guadalupe, Mexico, is expected to bring even more economic growth to the region. As for transportation positives that already exist, Interstate 10 runs east-west, crossing I-25 in Las Cruces, N.M. That access to I-25 gives trucking and distribution companies an ideal route to Rocky Mountain states and the Canadian border. Existing port-of-entry bridges within the region have a Dedicated Commuter Lane utilized by 30,000 people to make it easier for trucks and commuters to travel between El Paso and Mexico. Air and Rail Appeal The region is also home to three airports: El Paso International, Las Cruces International and Dona Ana County Airport. El Paso International schedules 120 daily nonstop passenger flights to 12 U.S. cities, while A plane takes off at Santa Teresa’s Dona Ana County Airport, which recently completed $2 million in runway improvements.

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Las Cruces International has foreign trade zones, cargo service, charter flights and more. Dona Ana County Airport at Santa Teresa recently completed $2 million in runway improvements. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and Union Pacific Railroad offer international rail service, and Union Pacific is investing more than $400 million to construct a new hub in Santa Teresa. The project is expected to create 3,000 jobs through 2015, and officials estimate the terminal will provide southern New Mexico with a $500 million economic boost. New Port of Entry The $133 million border crossing bridge being constructed between Tornillo and Guadalupe will be the largest port of entry along the U.S. southern border and is expected to be completed in early 2013. On the U.S. side, the border crossing will be about 30 miles east of downtown El Paso and will be a sixlane toll bridge, replacing the existing Fabens-Caseta crossing. A new road that will connect traffic from the border crossing to I-10 is also planned.


Ad Index

4 Camino Real Hotel

C4 City of Marfa

23 Development Corporation of Presidio

17 El Paso International Airport

2 El Paso Regional Economic Development Corporation

3 Holiday Inn Express – El Paso Central

13 Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino C3 Rio Grande Council of Governments 9 Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center – Paul L. Foster School of Medicine C2 Town of Van Horn


economic profile Business snapshot The Rio Grande Region covers six counties in southwestern Texas and two counties in south-central New Mexico, including the population centers of El Paso, Texas and Las Cruces, N.M. Top industries include manufacturing, automotive production, life sciences, defense and alternative energy.

POPULATION (2010)

Labor force (2010)

El Paso County, TX, 800,647

El Paso MSA, 318,115

Dona Ana County, NM, 209,233

Las Cruces MSA, 93,342

Otero County, NM, 63,797 Brewster County, TX, 9,232 Culberson County, TX, 2,398 Hudspeth County, TX, 3,476

Per Capita Income, $39,635

Major private employment sectors

Presidio County, TX, 7,818

Trade Transportation & Utilities, 20% Financial and Business Services, 15% Education and Health, 13% Leisure & Hospitality, 10% Manufacturing, 6% Natural Resources, Mining and Construction, 5%

Las Cruces, N.M., 97,618

Major Employers Fort Bliss, 20,000* Holloman Air Force Base, 10,000* New Mexico State University, 6,800 T&T Staff Management LP, 4,687 White Sands Missile Range, 4,300 Tenet Healthcare Ltd. 3,053 Las Cruces Public Schools, 3,000 University Medical Center, 2,310 Dish Network, 1,830 GC Services, 1,791 * includes military

El Paso MSA (2010) Income, $51,517

El Paso MSA Dec. 2011

El Paso, 649,121

Income Data Median Household

Jeff Davis County, TX, 2,342

Major Population Centers (2010)

Leisure and Hospitality, 10% Professional and Business Services, 8% Manufacturing, 5%

Las Cruces MSA Median Household Income (2009), $35.717 Per Capita Personal Income (2008) $27,855

Housing Market El Paso Average Home Sale Price (2010), $133,300 Las Cruces Average Home Sale Price (2009), $161,125

Cost of Living

Major employment sectors Las Cruces MSA Nov. 2009 Trade Transportation & Utilities, 15% Education and Health Services, 15%

El Paso, TX, 89.6 Las Cruces, 97.4 Sources: ACCRA Cost of Living Index 2011 Q2 (Composite U.S. Index=100), www.elpasoredco.org, www.mveda.com, quickfacts.census.gov

What’s Online  For more in-depth demographic, statistical and community information on the Rio Grande Region, go to businessclimate.com/rio-grande and click on Economic Profile.

Bridging the Gap Between Business and Government in Rio Grande 1100 N. Stanton Suite 610 El Paso, TX 79902 (915) 533-0998 www.riocog.org

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Business Images Rio Grande Region, TX 2012  

The Rio Grande Region is positioned in southwestern Texas and southcentral New Mexico on the U.S.-Mexico border. The region is a blend of ur...