Editorial: Santa Teresa economic boom good for N.M.

By Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board on Sun, May 26, 2013

The hum of economic activity along the U.S.-Mexico border in Santa Teresa is the welcome sound of money changing hands. It’s called trade.

Companies are flocking to the industrial border zone just north of the Santa Teresa Port of Entry at a pace not seen since the 2008 recession. They will be supplying the maquiladoras in Mexico with components, raw materials, storage for finished goods coming out of the factories and transportation to distribute the goods around the U.S. and into Canada.

And that’s good news for New Mexico.

“Our vision is to see New Mexico and the state of Chihuahua develop a world-class, one-of-its-kind, binational port that eventually will be home to hundreds, if not thousands of businesses,” says Jon Barela, Economic Development Department secretary.

Jerry Pacheco, executive director of the International Business Accelerator at Santa Teresa, predicts the zone, which has two industrial parks, could become one of the biggest trade centers along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Helping to spur the boom is construction of a new rail line and terminal for the Union Pacific Railroad. The 12-mile facility on the business parks’ northwest edge, includes new track, two locomotive refueling stations and a huge intermodal transshipment terminal. Expected to be operational in 2015, it will be Union Pacific’s largest refueling and transshipment center along the border, making Santa Teresa competitive with El Paso for trade.

Another factor in the nascent growth of Santa Teresa’s importance to New Mexico’s economic picture is Foxconn’s plans to expand its facility just across the border in San Jerónimo to eight times its current size in the next few years. The company makes up to 55,000 Dell computers daily for the U.S. market.

Sites in the zone are filling up fast. Companies that have moved in or plan to do so number nearly 50, up from 40 a year ago. About 2,000 people currently work in the business parks, not counting construction workers.

New Mexico is doing its part to fuel this economic fire. In 2011, Gov. Susana Martinez signed into law a tax exemption that lifts the tax on locomotive fuel in exchange for Union Pacific agreeing to build the $400 million terminal at Santa Teresa.

The Martinez administration is working with communities on both sides of border on trade and infrastructure issues, Barela said.

Last year the state approved an “overweight” commercial zone that allows trucks from Mexico to travel up to six miles into New Mexico with more weight than federal law permits on U.S. highways. That means shippers can carry full loads into the business parks without off-loading cargo at the border.

And the state Department of Transportation is building a $9.9 million road to connect Union Pacific’s railyard to the Pete Domenici Highway that runs from the port of entry to Interstate 10.

These are exciting signs of economic life that bode well for better opportunities with our trade partner, Mexico.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.