Believe it, NM port’s exports up

The Border Industrial Association (BIA) represents 122 companies and more than 5,000 jobs in the Santa Teresa industrial base on the Mexican border. As New Mexico’s largest industrial association, we work to improve our region so that more companies can be recruited…

Global companies such as Georgia Pacific … have grown our production base, which according to the U.S. Department of Commerce now accounts for 53 percent of NM’s total global exports. Our companies add to NM’s employment base, investment and state coffers. The $10.4 billion of exports … have made Santa Teresa the fifth-most important commercial port on the U.S. Mexico border. A billion of private dollars has been invested here; Santa Teresa is one of NM’s economic development stars.

Therefore, it was disturbing to read Randy Trask of the New Mexico International Trade Alliance’s guest column of Aug. 25 in which he lauds a report on Santa Teresa by the Hunt Institute of the University of Texas at El Paso and tries to make a case that there is too much focus on Santa Teresa, implying that our growth is only helping El Paso and not New Mexico. Statistics are untruthfully manipulated, many of which do not even appear in the report that he is praising. He falsely quotes the BIA as saying that 60 percent of employees in Santa Teresa are from Texas – something that we have never stated.

Trask incorrectly states that Santa Teresa is primarily a consolidation point for out-of-region goods, and that is why our exports have risen. The bulk of exports and jobs tied to these exports are produced in Santa Teresa. … Trask claims 91 percent of Santa Teresa exports are tied to Foxconn’s computer plant across the border. The U.S. Census Bureau says 55 percent of all Santa Teresa exports are computer/electronics-related. Large Santa Teresa electronics companies … account for the figure.

The Hunt Institute did not consult our industrial base for its report, nor do we claim any association … with it… Much of the information is … incorrect or outdated. Santa Teresa, an unincorporated community, is lumped in with the adjacent cities of Sunland Park – population of 16,000, Las Cruces – 45 miles away, and Doña Ana County. A serious researcher wouldn’t produce such shoddy work… Not a single sentence of analysis is in the report. …

Doña Ana County Commission Chairman Ben Rawson publicly called the report “a joke.”. He highlighted various inaccuracies and mentioned that state incentives provided to Las Cruces companies were lumped into Santa Teresa projects. He … called for an apology from the Hunt Institute for claiming the county was involved with such a … report.

The objective of this report, thrown together by a Texas entity, was for the benefit of Santa Teresa detractors such as NMTA to dissuade policymakers from focusing on and investing in Santa Teresa. NMTA has a contract to provide international trade services to Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, and rise of Santa Teresa (as an) export base in New Mexico is embarrassing to it.

We should be working together to build New Mexico’s economy, not attacking another’s success. One such effort is the “Supply the Suppliers” program in which we’re searching for suppliers across the state for our members. We are committed to growing our industrial base and creating good-paying jobs for New Mexicans. Let’s not allow detractors and out-of-state players … to slow growth on NM’s border interfere with our collective efforts to … improve our state.