SANTA TERESA — Some of the best minds of the region together came together for the first border policy hack focused on collaborating across state lines and international boundaries.
“I thought it was one of the best policy hacks we’ve ever done,” said Cris Turner, head of Dell’s government affairs for the Americas. Dell holds policy hacks around the world that bring together government officials, entrepreneurs, business and non-profit leaders as well as venture capitalists and students.
The border hackathon included participants from three states and two countries: New Mexico, Texas, and Chihuahua, Mexico.
“We’ve got so much turmoil going on around border issues and the solutions-oriented approach to this event really gives the opportunity to elevate a different story about the border and a story that’s being told by people that actually live and work here,” said Turner. He was also one of the judges.
“This gathering puts together our minds and all our intentions to do better. I always thought this could be the best border between Mexico and the U.S. and also the world,” said Jaime Campos, director of Innovation and Economic Development with the state government of Chihuahua.
Campos was on the same team as Francisco Palleres with the Economic Development Department of the City of Las Cruces. Both share the goal finding mutually beneficially solutions across borders.
“It is important for us to keep this positive idea that we can still collaborate, that we’re still a good partnership,” said Palleres. Their team’s idea was to focus on industry clusters to improve opportunities, wages and competitiveness.
The other winning team focused on creating a “campus of the mind” or neutral space on the border where entrepreneurs and others could easily come together to brainstorm and create solutions.
Among the challenges, “How do you work between two countries and comply between all the rules” said Bryn Davis, manager of asset services for El Paso Electric which operates in southern New Mexico and west Texas.
The teams had 75 minutes to come up with their proposals for a cross border industrial campus. Each had to answer a question about select issues, including building federal and local support, academic and industry partnerships and creating businesses clusters based on the region’s strengths.
They had had five minutes to present their idea to the judges and then the judges had five minutes to ask questions.
“I think it was brilliant,” said Tim Nitti, president and CEO of the New Mexico Partnership based in Albuquerque. “I think these kinds of conversations start a solution.”
The six judges selected two winning proposals. One focused on the “campus of the mind” and the other on the border “business cluster.”
Dell will work with the teams over the next 18 months to come up with a plan to execute the proposals with the help of industry and government support.
“What’s nice in that short amount of time, the easy ideas, the most achievable ideas bubble up, so I think implementing it is doable to in a short amount of time,” said Emma Schwartz president of the Medical Center of the Americas Foundation in El Paso, who was on the winning team for the business cluster idea.