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2013 El Paso Mayoral Runoff: Comparing the economic plans of Leeser, Ortega

By Maria Garcia, MariaG@kvia.com.
Published On: May 21 2013 04:26:04 PM CDT
Updated On: May 22 2013 03:32:47 PM CDT

2013 El Paso Mayoral Runoff: Comparing Economic Plans. ABC-7's Maria Garcia reports.

EL PASO, Texas -

As El Pasoans get ready for the June 15 runoff election to choose their next mayor ABC-7 is taking a look into each candidate’s plan for economic development.

“You need to bring manufacturing. You need to bring high tech jobs,” Oscar Leeser said on ABC-7 Xtra on May 12.

Those were Leeser’s main points when asked about his plan for economic development. He said it's about bringing high paying jobs but doesn't provide specific example of industries other than auto manufacturing - saying he'll work with the chambers of commerce to see what's already in the works:

“The Medical Center of the Americas. That's where tens of thousands of great paying jobs are going to be developed. Working with Fort Bliss to make sure we get great paying jobs from the industry there. Enhancing the international trade and commerce that's taking place between the two countries,” Steve Ortega said about his economic plan.

UTEP’s Tom Fullerton said “the Ortega campaign has by far the most realistic approach to economic development.”
Fullerton, who doesn’t endorse a candidate, researches border economics.

Fullerton said historically City efforts to bring manufacturing employers don't pay off, saying they require too many tax incentives and don't yield enough jobs. He also called Leeser’s example unlikely.

“In terms of transportation manufacturing, if any investment is going to occur in this region, it'll probably not be in El Paso,” Fullerton said.

Leeser told ABC-7 that's because of the past economic climate and because companies haven't been pursued enough. He cited a 2008 failed effort to bring an auto manufacturing plant to El Paso.

Though Fullerton believes Ortega's plan is more realistic he isn't a cheerleader for Ortega. He says property tax abatements -- which Ortega has supported -- often don't pay off in cities across the country..

“It's a track record of ineffectiveness,” Fullerton said.

The Borderplex Alliance consists of the Paso del Norte group and the Regional Economic Development Corporation.

Borderplex CEO Rolando Pablos didn’t want to say which plan is better but he did say “Thereis room for manufacturing in El Paso at a higher skilled level.

He also said that's really likely to happen at the Medical Center of the Americas - which Ortega is focused on.
Ultimately he says the key is in investing in the city, Pablos said.

The next mayor needs to focus on making sure our city become attractive before we even try to go attract,” Pablos said.

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