Reposted from The Las Cruces Sun News
By Jason Gibbs
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POSTED: 01/08/2015 03:22:06 PM MST
SANTA TERESA >> Train whistles and the rumble of trucks in southern Doña Ana County got a boost Thursday as E.R.O. Intermodal Services celebrated the opening of its location in the Santa Teresa Intermodal Park.
The company, run by Ernesto Olivas and his family, was established in September 1993 as a heavy-duty truck and trailer parts retailer in El Paso.
In 1997, it grew to include a maintenance and repairs section that soon took over all the services for the container yard company in El Paso. And, in 2008 E.R.O. established an area for storing goods in transit.
That’s exactly the need in the intermodal park, especially since Union Pacific has come to the playing field bringing ever-increasing amounts of cargo that will pass through Santa Teresa on train and truck.
“When U.P. moved out here they told me, ‘you are the only company doing it all'” when it came to servicing trucks and offering space to store containers near the rail hub, Olivas said.
Within three years, the company estimates it will have a workforce of 50 employees in Santa Teresa. The location will include a six-acre logistics yard and an equipment supply operation.
Local economic developers say that is the kind of private investment that is needed to continue the growth in Santa Teresa.
“We’re welcoming private-sector development into the area,” said Davin Lopez, director of the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance. “It’s a critical aspect to providing service and support to a truly global intermodal hub.”
And private investment is needed to create more space for the ever-growing Intermodal Park since Union Pacific moved in late May to a new, $400 million intermodal facility in Santa Teresa. Coming in at nearly 12 miles long and spanning some 2,200 acres, the facility is reshaping the economies of Doña Ana County and southern New Mexico.
“Sometimes it’s the right place at the right time,” said Ed Camden, president of the board of the Border Industrial Association, a group of 105 businesses involved in the development around the intermodal park. “Sometimes it’s government (that leads to development) but at the end of the day, it doesn’t happen without private investment.”
Jerry Pacheco, vice president of the Border Industrial Association, said the arrival of E.R.O. means that roughly 99 percent of the already-constructed space in the park is occupied. That does not mean, however, there is not room to grow and there is no need for potential new partners to shy away from the area. With a total of 3.3 million available square feet of office and other commercial space, some 8,000 square feet remains unfilled after this year’s business boom.
Especially desirable are companies like E.R.O. who are willing to use available, unbuilt acreage for build-to-suit projects. And, he added, local economic development officials and the Border Industrial Association are more than willing to help arrange such deals.
“We have 20,000-plus acres available for commercial, industrial and residential development,” he said. “No company should be worried about doing deals” because of a lack of space.
The build-to-suit option suited E.R.O. perfectly as they move roughly two-thirds of their business from El Paso to Santa Teresa, Olivas said.
“It’s taken six months of timing, hard work. However, I feel very, very excited about this opportunity,” Olivas said.
Pacheco said the park is poised for growth, but needs some assistance from local and state governments to get the infrastructure up to par. Airport Road, the primary inroad to the park, was never designed to handle the amount of traffic that it now carries. Proposals for funding will, hopefully, be addressed in the upcoming 60-day legislative session which begins this month.
The Doña Ana County Legislative Coalition, a group of elected, governmental and private-sector leaders, has proposed requesting $7.2 million for complete reconstruction of Airport Road. Local leaders will also press legislators to consider expanding the current six-mile overwieght zone, which allows cross-border traffic that exceeds U.S. weight limits to come a certain distance across the border, to a 12-mile zone to include the Santa Teresa Industrial Park area.
Jason Gibbs may be reached at 575-541-5451.