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El Paso/West Texas Development News

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EL PASODevelopment news

At last! A thread devoted to new developments in El Paso and the Borderland! As a fast-growing city in the Southwest of 625,000 with a metro area of over 2 million, including neighboring Ciudad Juarez and Las Cruces NM, El Paso is home to one of the largest military bases in the world, Ft Bliss, and to numerous manufacturing, import-export, and service firms. The University of Texas at El Paso has a unique campus with nearly 20,000 students. The city is strategically located at the intersection of far West Texas, Southern New Mexico, and Northern Mexico. Along with Ciudad Juarez, El Paso is home to numerous twin plant operations that employ hundreds of thousands on both sides of the border. One such operation is the new Foxconn Computer plant, one of the largest such factories in the world with a projected employment of 20,000. The border crossings between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez are among the busiest on earth with over 23 million crossings each year. El Paso is a significant rail and trucking hub as well as a major air freight hub. The warm, sunny climate provides a resort atmosphere for El Paso, ideal for golf, hiking in the nearby mountains, cycling, and a variety of activities.

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El Paso Healthcare news: mailto:[email protected]?subject=El Paso Times: Bustling health care industry gives boost to El Paso:


Bustling health care industry gives boost to El Paso
By Vic Kolenc / El Paso Times
Posted: 12/13/2009

EL PASO -- El Paso's health-care industry has exploded in recent years with more than $2.5 billion allocated for recent and projected projects, information supplied by El Paso's major hospitals and universities shows.

That number is conservative because it doesn't include all health-care-related facilities in El Paso. Most of the reported money already spent is for projects completed in the past four years. Future planned projects go to 2015.

Two big projects now in the works: the $315.6 million remake of University Medical Center (formerly Thomason Hospital) over the next two years, including the addition of a $122 million children's hospital, now under construction, and a planned new Beaumont Army Medical Center, projected to be built between 2011and 2016 in East El Paso at an estimated cost of $1.46 billion. That's more than the new, $1.3 billion Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington.

"The health-care industry is a large and major sector of the economy in El Paso, and the surrounding area. I think you'll see a proportional expansion of the industry with the (population) growth of the region," said John Harris, president of the Sierra Providence Health Network, one of El Paso's largest private employers with about 3,500 employees. It's owned by Tenet Healthcare, a national hospital chain.

Sierra Providence last year opened a $148 million, 110-bed hospital at 3280 Joe Battle Blvd. to tap into the fast-growing East Side.

"The hospital has been very busy," Harris

said -- so busy, that Sierra Providence is looking to expand it by 90 more beds, possibly in the next two years. "I think all the hospitals (in El Paso) are relatively busy" in part because the city is the medical center for this region, he said.
Sierra Providence, which operates three general hospitals, has spent about $258 million on new equipment, new buildings and upgraded facilities since 2003, Harris said. Sierra Providence did not provide the exact amount spent since 2006. Besides the hospital, it also spent $13.5 million in the past four years on major equipment additions, according to data from the health network.

"The major byproduct of all the investment" by Sierra Providence and other health-care providers is "creation of jobs," and making El Paso more attractive to out-of-town companies looking for new locations, Harris said.

Terri Wyatt, a spokeswoman for Las Palmas Medical Center, said, "Every time something is constructed" in the El Paso health-care industry, it brings more money and more jobs into the area. Those jobs often require high skills, she added.

Las Palmas added more than $61 million in major expansion projects and equipment additions since 2006, including a $40 million emergency room and intensive care addition in 2006, Wyatt said. It's now building a $15 million neuroscience unit.

Its sister hospital, Del Sol Medical Center on the East Side, also owned by national hospital chain HCA Inc., had more than $29 million worth of expansions and equipment additions since 2007, including a $10 million medical office building, data from the hospital show.

The health-care services industry in El Paso employed an estimated 30,400 people in October, the latest data available from the Texas Workforce Commission. That ranks the industry as the third-largest employer in this area, slightly ahead of the professional and business services sector, commission data show.

The health-care services industry makes up about 11 percent of El Paso's civilian work force.

Robert Crawley, an economist at the Workforce Commission in Austin, said the health-care industry has shown "significant resilience in the (economic) downturn" in El Paso, across Texas and across the United States. Because of several projects in the works, the health-care industry will continue to be important for El Paso in the future, he said.

James Valenti, CEO at University Medical Center, said the county-operated hospital in Central El Paso is going through an entire renovation and expansion because many of its departments are operating at capacity, many parts of the building are 30 to 50 years old, and the hospital now has a "higher calling and a higher vision" as a university hospital tied to the new Texas Tech medical school.

UMC's $315.6 million renovation and expansion, including the 120-bed children's hospital, is "the largest health-care construction program in the history of El Paso," Valenti said.

That distinction will be lost in spring 2011, when the Army is expected to begin construction of a $1.46 billion hospital complex at Loop 375 and Spur 601 near the Butterfield Trail Golf Course to replace the 38-year-old, 140-bed Beaumont Army Medical Center next to Fort Bliss. Details of the project are still being developed, but the new hospital campus "will take care of all of Fort Bliss's growth through 2014," said Army Maj. John Evans, program manager for the Army Health Facility Planning Agency office at the post.

The new hospital complex is projected to increase Beaumont's employment by about 500 people, said Clarence Davis, a Beaumont spokes man. It now employs about 2,700 people, including military and civilian workers, and contractors.

Beaumont spent $31.6 million on equipment and hospital upgrades in the past two years, according to data from the hospital. It also is tied to $111.8 million worth of construction of several medical clinics and the $56 million Warrior in Transition complex.

Valenti, at UMC, said the children's hospital would be paid with a property-tax funded bond issue approved by voters, and money for the rest of the hospital's expansion and renovation would come from hospital revenues and reserves.

"We've had a very special time. We've been profitable as a hospital for four-plus years," Valenti said.

UMC spent $20.4 million on expansions, renovations and major equipment additions at the hospital and its four neighborhood health-care centers in the past three years, data from the hospital show.

The UMC construction project employs 340 construction workers now, and that work force will peak at 600 workers next year, Valenti said. The hospital will add 260 jobs to its work force by 2012 when the children's hospital is expected to open. UMC now employs about 2,000 people, including jobs at its neighborhood clinics.

Across the street from UMC is another big piece of El Paso's recent health-care expansion -- the Texas Tech University Paul L. Foster School of Medicine. It opened in July with 40 students.

The medical school is now housed in two buildings, which cost $100.1 million to build and equip, according to data from the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center in El Paso. And Thursday, Texas Tech officials announced that the school would make the El Paso campus into a full-fledged health-sciences center in the future with new schools of dentistry, pharmacy and allied health added to the existing medical and nursing schools.

The University of Texas at El Paso has also expanded its health-care-related facilities in recent years. It's spending $105.8 million for three facilities: A $60 million College of Health Sciences/School of Nursing Building, under construction; a $45 million Bioscience Research Building, completed this year; and relocation and current renovation of the UTEP Student Health Center, costing $841,250.

Vic Kolenc may be reached at [email protected];m 546-6421.

El Paso Children's hospital

Spending projects
Recent and projected spending for capital improvements by selected health-care providers and health-care educational facilities in El Paso:
Beaumont Army Medical Center
$111.8 million for construction of clinics and Warrior in Transition complex, 2007-2009.
$85.5 million in projected clinic construction, equipment upgrade, 2010-2015.
$1.46 billion for new hospital complex in East El Paso, 2011-2015.
University Medical Center $20.4 million for hospital and clinic expansions, renovations, and construction, 2006-2009.
$193.5 million for renovation, expansion of existing hospital, 2010-2012. $122.05 million for new children's hospital, 2009-2012.
Sierra Providence $148 million for new East Side hospital, opened 2008.
$13.5 million for major equipment additions since 2006.
$96.3 million for capital improvements since 2003.
UTEP $105.8 million for two health-care-related buildings, renovated student health center.
Texas Tech $100.1 million for two medical school buildings completed in 2006 and 2007.
Las Palmas Medical Center $61.2 million for major equipment additions, facility expansions since 2006.
Del Sol Medical Center $29.25 million for major equipment additions, facility expansions, construction since 2007.
University Behavioral Health $4.1 million for renovation of building for psychiatric hospital and drug-treatment center opened in late 2007.
El Paso LTAC Hospital $1.56 million for renovation and expansion of 33-bed long-term care hospital opened in 2006.

Total About $2.58 billion. Sources: Hospitals, UTEP, Texas Tech.
$31.6 million for equipment additions, hospital upgrades, 2007-2009.
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Ft Bliss Developments:

FORT BLISS, Texas — The expansion and transformation of this former training post has hit high stride, with brigade complexes and a division headquarters sprouting in areas that just months ago were barren desert.

The transformation, primarily inspired by the Base Closure and Realignment Commission recommendations of 2005, involves a projected outlay of nearly $5 billion and a 300 percent increase in the post’s population.

Clark McChesney, director of the Team Bliss Base Transformation Office, said the Army has committed $3 billion for the project so far and is on schedule to complete major portions of the expansion in the 2012-13 time frame.

“The Corps of Engineers is committing $2 million per day to construction companies and turning over at least one building per week to the installation,” McChesney said. “To give an idea of just how big this is, the Corps of Engineers will be spending $1.1 billion on military construction here this year,” said Col. Edward Manning, Fort Bliss garrison commander. “By comparison, the Air Force will be spending slightly less than $1 billion for all its military construction over the same period.”

As construction booms, the post is experiencing a sharp increase in population, which officials estimate will by 2012 total 33,400 soldiers in five combat brigades and 58,000 family members. When expansion began in 2005, there were 9,300 soldiers permanently based at Fort Bliss, along with 15,300 family members. The post also had a large student population, about 2,100 at that time, but that is quickly eroding with the ongoing move of the Air Defense Center and School to Fort Sill, Okla. While the post will have 4,000 family quarters when the expansion is done, Army officials estimate 17,000 families will live off-post in the surrounding community of El Paso, a large metropolitan area with more than 1 million inhabitants.

Most of the Fort Bliss population growth is related to the phased relocation of the 1st Armored Division from bases in Germany. At Fort Bliss, the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team of 1st AD, the 44th brigade in the Army’s nearly complete arsenal of 45 brigades, officially goes on the active duty rolls Aug. 16. The 45th brigade in the objective maneuver force will be the 2nd BCT of 1st AD, a heavy brigade scheduled to activate here Sept. 16, 2010, McChesney said. That unit, recently returned from a 15-month deployment in Iraq, cased its colors and reflagged as the 170th Infantry Brigade during a ceremony July 15 at Baumholder, Germany. The 2nd BCT colors will be brought out of storage next summer as the brigade is rebuilt from scratch.

Until recently, the Army planned on building a maneuver force of 48 brigades, but now is focused on 45 brigades. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that is a more prudent goal given the Army’s operational commitments and the strain on soldiers and families of keeping existing brigades manned and in the deployment cycle for Iraq and Afghanistan.

Results of the Quadrennial Defense Review, due late this year or early next year, could shift another brigade to Fort Bliss if the Defense Department reduces the brigade inventory in U.S. Army Europe from four to two, as originally envisioned under BRAC.

In the current stationing plan, 1st Armored Division headquarters will relocate from Wiesbaden, Germany, to Fort Bliss in May 2011, according to McChesney. That plan calls for the division to have five maneuver brigades, including a combat aviation brigade, which today is flagged as a unit of the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. The CAB is scheduled to reflag here in the summer of 2011 and occupy new barracks, brigade headquarters, hangars and other aviation support structures in the Biggs Airfield sector of Fort Bliss.

The division headquarters and other brigade complexes will occupy previously unused land in a desert expanse called East Fort Bliss. Each of the brigade complexes will cover 300 acres, have more than 30 structures and serve as the workplace and barracks for up to 3,800 soldiers. A brigade complex is about one mile wide and half a mile deep.

About 9,000 of Fort Bliss’ soldiers will work at facilities on the main post, where a new shopping mall called Freedom Crossing, an expanded commissary and other services, will be located. The remaining 24,000 soldiers will work in new facilities at Biggs Airfield and East Fort Bliss, connected to the main post area and its services by a network of roads and overpasses.

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Kolmar Labs Group mulls move to El Paso
By Vic Kolenc / El Paso Times
Posted: 04/01/2009 12:00:00 AM MDT

EL PASO -- Kolmar Labs Group, a New York cosmetics and pharmaceutical manufacturer, is looking at El Paso as a possible place to relocate its factories and corporate headquarters, and bring about 750 jobs, including chemists and other high-skilled jobs, within a five-year period. The City Council on Tuesday promised to give Kolmar about $1.5 million in property tax rebates over five years to locate here. The company also will be asking the county for the same deal, which would result in an additional property tax rebate of about $800,000 over five years, according to city data. Kolmar has not determined yet whether it will ask for tax breaks from other local government agencies. But Kolmar also is seeking a tax incentives package from the state.

The company is also looking at San Antonio, Louisiana and New Jersey as possible relocation sites, said Robert Theroux, Kolmar CEO and president. It could also remain in New York, he said. "We're trying to get incentives from the other communities also. We'll make a decision in the next several months," Theroux said. "El Paso is desirable" because of its location near California and Texas customers, its labor pool, and the ability to get graduates from UTEP, Theroux said. "We need to have a good supply of technically skilled people," including chemists and microbiologists, he said.

The 87-year-old, privately held company, with annual sales of about $100 million, bills itself as the largest contract formulator and contract manufacturer of name-brand color cosmetics in North America. It also manufactures pharmaceutical skin-care products.
This would be the first biotech company attracted to El Paso by the El Paso Regional Economic Development Corp., or REDCo, since it launched an initiative last year to attract companies in the life sciences industry. "This can be a game changer for the local economy," said REDCo President Bob Cook. "Once you land a single (biotech) company, it creates an environment to land more."

Theroux said the company has operated its Port Jervis, N.Y., facility since 1943. "But the environment is not friendly to business," and the cost of operating there has dramatically increased in the past 10 years, he said. The company also has a small plant in Mahwah, N.J., he said. Bill Matos, Kolmar vice president of human resources, said the company now has to compete with other pharmaceutical companies for chemists and other skilled workers because it's located in "pharmaceutical alley."

The company would hire most of its work force in the El Paso area, including an administrative staff of about 30 people, Theroux said. Matos said about half its work force would be white-collar workers and about half would be blue-collar factory jobs. The company offers an extensive fringe-benefits package, Matos said. Wages for 50 percent to 60 percent of the jobs would exceed El Paso County's median wage, which is $11.50 an hour, the Kolmar officials said.

Vic Kolenc may be reached at [email protected]; 546-6421.

Santa Teresa growth
Expeditors International of Washington Inc. has signed a lease on an 86,550-square-foot facility in the Verde Binational Park in Santa Teresa, New Mexico Economic Development Department Cabinet Secretary Fred Mondragón said. The Seattle company is a global logistics company and will employ 30 people at the new facility. Expeditors has 170 offices and 12 international service centers. The Office of Mexican Affairs of the New Mexico Economic Development Department, the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance and the New Mexico Partnership worked together to bring the company to Santa Teresa, Mondragón said. -- David Burge

Kolmar Labs Group
Kolmar Labs Group bills itself as the largest contract formulator and contract manufacturer of name-brand cosmetics in North America. It also manufactures some pharmaceuticals. The privately held company, located in Port Jervis, N.Y., has annual sales of about $100 million, and employs about 750 people. It also operates a plant in Mahwah, N.J. The company is looking at El Paso as a possible site to relocate and build a $53 million million factory and headquarters facility on 30 acres. Source: Robert Theroux, Kolmar president and CEO
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Ohio man plans to build $180 million state-of-the-art cancer treatment facility in El Paso
Times staff report

EL PASO - An Ohio developer plans to build two $180 million proton-therapy facilities to treat cancer -- one in Dublin, Ohio and the other in El Paso.
Each facility would be 100,000 square feet and create 100 jobs, according to a report in the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch. There are five such facilities in the country.

The most significant difference between standard radiation treatment and proton therapy is healthy tissue may receive a dose of the standard radiation that is being directed toward the cancer. "Consequently, a less-than-desired dose is frequently used to reduce damage to healthy tissues and avoid unwanted side effects," The National Association for Proton Therapy says on its Web site. "The power of protons is that higher doses of radiation can be used to control and manage cancer while significantly reducing damage to healthy tissue and vital organs."

Dublin officials have agreed to put in sewers, roads and telecommunication wiring on 32 acres of land and give developer Daniel M. Slane a tax break of up to $2.5 million. Slane needs to have financing in place by the end of the year with construction starting by the end of 2010 for the Dublin facility.
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Verde Realty Completes Rail in Santa Teresa Intermodal Park

January 15, 2009

Original PRWeb article: Verde Realty Completes Rail in Santa Teresa Intermodal Park
- Verde Corporate Realty Services announced that construction has been completed on 4,283 feet of new railroad track and new switch in Verde Santa Teresa Intermodal Park in Santa Teresa, NM. The track and switch will service the master-planned park's first phase totaling 118 acres.

Verde Santa Teresa Intermodal Park is a 1,221 acre master-planned, rail-served industrial park that can accommodate user requirements from 5 acres to 200 acres. When fully-built out, the park will have five rail spurs directly connected to the Union Pacific Main Line. The park provides a further benefit to users in that it is located within Foreign-Trade Zone No. 197.

The Verde Santa Teresa Intermodal Park is the only facility of its kind in the region capable of fulfilling transloading, cross-border trailer staging and build-to-suit requirements. Construction of the new Foxconn Technology Group manufacturing facility in San Jeronimo, Mexico, that is located immediately adjacent to Santa Teresa, and Union Pacific's plans to build new facilities in Santa Teresa will generate meaningful economic activity in the area and incremental demand for rail served facilities. This park will address the needs that will arise from this activity.

Foxconn, the trade name for Taiwan-based Hon Hai Precision Industry Company Ltd., began construction in July 2008 on a 440-acre manufacturing campus which will eventually employ 20,000 workers. The project's first phase, a 650,000-square-foot facility, is scheduled to open in March 2009 and employ 5,300 workers making computers, laptops and other electronic equipment for a variety of companies. Foxconn is an electronics manufacturing giant that makes products for Apple, Nokia, HP, Motorola, Dell, and Sony, among others, and more cell phones than any other firm in the world.

Union Pacific plans to initially invest $150 million in a 934-acre fueling, switching and intermodal yard to be completed between 2010 and 2014. Once complete, it will be the largest fueling and intermodal facility on the U.S.-Mexico border. When fully operational, the Union Pacific facility will employ 280 people.

In addition to Union Pacific's investment, Verde Corporate Realty Services' Director of Business Development, Jay Kleberg said, 'The development of Verde's Intermodal Park is a critical step in servicing the increased demand by local and national manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors to efficiently transport goods from coast-to-coast and service clients in Mexico.'

Kleberg went on to note that, 'The Park's location, five miles from the Santa Teresa Port of Entry, the new Foxconn campus in San Jeronimo and Union Pacific's new refueling and intermodal yard is ideal for transportation providers and suppliers doing business in Mexico. Verde has had numerous inquiries about the availability of rail-served land and build-to-suit capabilities, and we look forward to accommodating the corporate real estate requirements of our customers.'

Verde Corporate Realty Services is a leading owner/operator of corporate facilities throughout the United States/Northern Mexico border region. Verde's team of experienced bi-cultural professionals provides real estate services from the design/ build phase through subsequent years of facility operation.
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Rapid Transit, Light Rail Part Of Sun Metro Future
Daniel Novick-KFOX News Reporter mailto:[email protected]
November 25, 2008

EL PASO, Texas -- Sun Metro's plan between now and 2028 includes new terminals across the city, rapid bus transit service, and even the possibility of light or commuter rail. Sun Metro's Michael Herrera took KFOX and city leaders on a time machine bus of sorts on Tuesday. "A first hand feel of what the future of Sun Metro holds," said Herrera while standing in the aisle of a newly minted Sun Metro bus. Herrera showed KFOX the four locations where by 2011, Sun Metro will have new terminals. "In the next 36 months you are going to see a lot of construction. You are going to see a lot of facilities, starting off with the downtown at Third and Santa Fe," said Herrera. The other three terminals are at Glory Road, one at Remcon Circle, both in West El Paso, and a terminal in the Lower Valley at Zaragoza Road and Alameda Avenue. Sun Metro also wants to introduce Smart 101 and bus rapid transit, where buses will have dedicated lanes and express service. "It is viable, it does work, and there is no reason why we can't do it here," Herrera told KFOX. The public was also allowed to hop on the bus on Tuesday, and not everyone was excited about what they're hearing. "That site on Santa Fe and Fourth there, is one of the most remote and blighted parts of the city, no one wants to be there," said Matt Carroll from downtown El Paso. Carroll rides the bus a few times a week. He's not only worried about the location of the new downtown terminal, but that Sun Metro will make choices that will hurt him and other riders. "We have to improve it, but change is not necessarily improvement. We must make sure that the change will be done in a manner that will benefit the bus riders, and encourage more people to use the bus," said Carroll. Sun Metro will also be bringing online 40 more buses in the next year. Of course there is a price tag. Sun metro will invest $180 million between now and 2011 in capital investments. But that is pocket change compared to the estimated $2.5 billion for the potential of light or commuter rail in 2028.
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Bond election set: $150M would enhance quality of life
By David Burge \ El Paso Times
Posted: 04/30/2010

EL PASO -- The City Council has picked November 2011 as the target date for a $100 million to $150 million bond election. Voters will be asked to allow the city government to borrow the money for quality-of-life projects, City Manager Joyce Wilson said Thursday. These could include improvements to parks and libraries and purchasing open space. Exact projects have not been determined. Wilson, though, said one large signature project would be proposed.

Possible large projects could include building a Downtown arena or constructing an aquarium, IMAX theater or a trolley system between Downtown and the zoo, Mayor John Cook said. Another possibility is building a music center that would feature live Latin-American acts, he said.

City Council members did not take a formal vote to set the election date. Instead, the fall 2011 target was established through consensus during a financial planning meeting. "If we're not ready, we can always delay it," Cook said.

If the bond issue is approved by voters, the money would be borrowed over seven to 10 years and paid back using taxpayer dollars over 20 to 25 years, he said. City Rep. Steve Ortega said he wanted to make sure the public gets plenty of opportunity to discuss what it wants included in a bond vote. Ortega also wants to see the city focus on projects that could boost tourism and economic development.

The city seeks voter approval to borrow money for projects that are considered extras, Ortega said. It can borrow money without voter approval by using certificates of obligation to fund core services that focus on the health and public safety of the community.
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From the El PasoTimes:

Banking authority: Bank of the West CEO sees El Paso holding steady amid global troubles
By David Burge / El Paso Times
Posted: 05/07/2009

Larry Patton President and CEO of Bank of the West sits at his desk at the downtown bank. (Ruben R Ramirez/El Paso Times)EL PASO -- Bank of the West President and Chief Executive Officer Larry Patton gives the El Paso economy a grade of "B" for its performance during the deep global recession.
The local economy is doing better than the economy in many other places in the country, Patton said, but is still feeling some effects from the economic downturn, particularly in businesses that are related to the maquiladora sector or that supply it with goods and services.

"Texas in general started feeling the effects of the recession later than the rest of the country, and El Paso has started seeing some of the effects later than the rest of Texas," Patton said. "With the downturn, El Paso is being impacted in certain sectors, primarily the maquila industry from the financial downturn in the automotive industry. A lot of manufacturing in Mexico is related to the automotive industry, and certainly that sector has seen a downturn." Unlike much of the country, residential home values in El Paso "have not seen a substantial decline in market values that the rest of the country has experienced," Patton added.

Locally owned and operated Bank of the West also continues to lend money to businesses and consumers and has seen its loan portfolio increase by about $97 million in the past 15 months -- a 23 percent increase -- he said. The bank's total loan portfolio is now $520 million. Patton, 59, is a native of Hobbs, N.M., and has worked in banking for nearly 40 years. He started in 1971 as a national bank examiner with the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in the agency's Denver regional office and worked there for seven years. He came to El Paso in 1978, when he took a job with El Paso National Bank, now Chase Bank. He was in charge of loan reviews at El Paso National for four years. He was also president and CEO of two other local banks before joining Bank of the West when it was founded in 1990.
He was originally Bank of the West's executive vice president of lending, and he became president in 1999. He added the title of CEO in 2007 after Jonathan Rogers, one of the bank's founders and a former mayor of El Paso, died.

Patton sat down for an interview on the economy, the banking industry and his philosophy of doing business.

Q What's helped El Paso during this global economic downturn?

A Certainly, the activity at Fort Bliss has helped continue to stimulate our economy in the short term with the construction activity that's taking place. Our general contractor customers, subcontractors and trade groups have continued to prosper as a result of Fort Bliss activity.

As we continue to get closer to the soldiers actually relocating here, the retail sector of our community should really benefit, too.

Q What's happening as simply as possible with banks during this economic downturn and are community banks such as yours doing better than the large national and international banks?

A Fortunately, for most of the community banks across the country, they have not been significantly impacted by the subprime financial crisis. Most community banks operate like we do -- in the community. We know our customers. We basically gather deposits from the community and lend money back to the community for the community to grow. Conse quently, especially here in El Paso, community banks have not been impacted by a decline in real estate values and did not participate in investing in a lot of exotic investment vehicles.

Q Is your bank still lending money, and is there credit available for consumers and businesses?

A What we've experienced on the lending side is a phenomenal opportunity for us beginning in the fourth quarter of 2008. Several of the regional banks and certainly the large multinational banks have experienced some policy changes in their lending activity, which allowed us to take advantage of new opportunities with customers that were not having their needs satisfied.

As a result, our lending activities are at historic levels. During the past 15 months, we've increased our loan portfolio by approximately $97 million.

Q What would your advice be to a consumer or small-business owner who wants to get some credit during these rough economic times?

A When it comes to consumer loans, it really depends on that consumer's credit rating. Have they had credit in the past and was it handled properly? We calculate debt-to-income ratios, but for the most part, the important thing is to pay your bills on time and maintain a good credit rating.

We are a business bank. The advice I'd give to business owners if it's a new business: It's extremely important to put together a solid business plan that includes what their market is, a marketing plan, capital structure. Don't enter into a new business venture being undercapitalized. Most small businesses fail within the first two years of operation simply because they were undercapitalized.

For existing businesses, one of the most important things a business can do is maintain accurate and timely financial statements. Banks are really hamstrung in assisting businesses with their loan needs if the company hasn't maintained accurate financial statements.

For a small business, it's always a battle. They feel they don't have the money to spend on the accounting piece, because they feel it's more important to spend on the marketing and business development pieces. The accounting end suffers.

What happens is a business operates for two or three years, and they've had some success and they come to the bank. They want to expand, grow their inventory, want to finance some equipment. But they have no history of performance because all their receipts are in a shoebox. With the software that's out there, it's pretty inexpensive for small businesses to maintain their records.

Q What's your business philosophy?

A I'd say my general philosophy in life and in business is to treat people like I'd like to be treated, the old Golden Rule. Our staff believes in that rule. We've been successful in developing our bank because our staff is concerned about providing exceptional service to our customers and treating them how they'd like to be treated themselves. You can't go wrong if you keep that in the front of your mind
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Interesting thread, interesting projects. Love the new downtown courthouse. Keep up the good work, it's good to hear positive news coming from El Paso. You never really hear about them.
Interesting thread, interesting projects. Love the new downtown courthouse. Keep up the good work, it's good to hear positive news coming from El Paso. You never really hear about them.
Thanks! ELP need look no further than OKC for inspiration! :cheers:
Well our downtown federal courthouse is absolutely hideous, so good thing they obviously didn't look there for inspiration. LOL
from the EP Times:

UTEP forecasts steady El Paso area growth
by Vic Kolenc / El Paso Times
Posted: 06/08/2010 12:00:00 AM MDT

EL PASO -- This area's economy is expected to see steady expansion in the next 19 years, projects a new long-term economic outlook from the University of Texas at El Paso.

El Paso's economic output is expected to more than double from last year's estimated $20.6 billion to $42.8 billion by 2029, according to "Borderplex Long-Term Economic Trends to 2029."

The outlook is similar to one released last year by UTEP's Department of Economics and Finance.

Per capita income is projected to increase from an estimated $28,131 in 2009 to $67,038 in 2029. El Paso's population is projected to grow from an estimated 751,513 in 2009 to just under 1 million by 2029.
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From the El Paso Times:

Cielo Vista Mall adds 3 stores; Michael Kors on the way
by Vic Kolenc / El Paso Times
Posted: 06/24/2010 12:00:00 AM MDT

EL PASO -- Cielo Vista Mall recently added three new stores and a restaurant. And a Michael Kors luxury sportswear store is expected to open next month, mall officials announced.

Charming Charlie, a national women's accessories boutique chain, opened in early June. Crazy 8, a national children's clothing store chain, and New York Fashion, a locally owned clothing store with women's junior sizes and men's wear, opened in May. Ruby Thai Kitchen, a national Thai restaurant chain, also opened in May.

Victoria's Secret is slated to move into a larger store in the mall next month.

Some of the new stores are going into spaces once occupied by the Ann Taylor clothing store, f.y.e. music store and Walgreens.
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From the El Paso Times:

El Paso economy ranked No. 2 in Brookings Institution report
By Vic Kolenc \ El Paso Times
Posted: 06/25/2010 12:00:00 AM MDT

EL PASO -- El Paso had the second-best economic growth among the 100 largest metro areas in the nation in the first three months of this year, according to the Brookings Institution's latest MetroMonitor. The report takes quarterly looks at the economic conditions of the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

The latest report showed that El Paso's economic output increased 1.8 percent in the first quarter, ranking second behind Modesto, Calif., which increased economic output by 1.9 percent. El Paso jobs grew by half a percent, and the city ranked seventh in that category. Home prices declined 8.4 percent since the first quarter of 2009, a decline that ranked 50th.

"The recovery is weak and fragile in most places, and more robust in El Paso and many other parts of Texas," said Howard Wial, an economist at the Brookings Institution and co-author of the MetroMonitor study. "The strongest metros seem to be recovering more quickly than other metro areas." Fort Bliss growth was one factor that helped El Paso's economy during the recession, Wial said.

El Paso still hasn't recovered all jobs lost by the recession -- the same for the other 99 metro economies. "El Paso has come pretty close" to recovering all jobs, Wial said.

El Paso had 1.6 percent fewer jobs in the first quarter than in the fourth quarter of 2008, when the recession began in El Paso. It ranked as the second-best job performer during the recession.

However, unemployment remains high in El Paso. Its rate was 9.4 percent in the first quarter. That ranked 46th among the 100.
El Paso has ranked among the nation's 20 strongest metro economies since Brookings began monitoring metro econo mies in June 2009. The latest report has 21 metro areas on the list of strongest economies.
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From The El Paso Times:

Possible plans for Asarco site unveiled
By Gustavo Reveles Acosta \ El Paso Times
Posted: 07/01/2010

EL PASO -- A sports arena, an amusement park, a horse racetrack or large manufacturing centers could all be built on the Asarco site and still leave room for commercial and retail space. The 400-acre site -- which also includes land east of Interstate 10 and a large plot north of the former copper smelter -- could also include an international park, walkable neighborhoods and museums.

These were all ideas brought forth by hundreds of El Pasoans who attended work sessions, one-on-one planning meetings and hands-on workshops with the Florida firm in charge of coming up with a zoning plan to help redevelop the old Asarco site. "It looks awesome, awesome. I hope this comes to fruition," said James Lopez, a University of Texas at El Paso student who participated in one of the working sessions. "This is the type of El Paso we all want to see."

The planning firm of Dover Kohl & Partners on Wednesday unveiled its work-in-progress presentation, which included many of the concepts El Pasoans shared in the past 10 days. Artist renderings of office buildings next to boutiques and restaurants were shown, many with the iconic Asarco stack in the background. Planners also showed how a large sports arena or amusement park could fit on the site and still leave room for other commercial and retail development.

Jason King of Dover Kohl said the work in progress helps people visualize the potential of the site, but he reaffirmed that these plans are a draft. "The plan is important, yes. But the reality is that we need to come up with the code to help make it happen," he said. "People don't want a plan, they want a beautiful city." King's firm will work with city planners and elected officials to draft a zoning plan for the Asarco site that will be used to guide development in the area.

Zoning plans are also being drawn up for three transit corridors in need of economic development: Five Points, Oregon Street and Remcon Circle. Ideas for transit include the creation of light rail, the installation of traffic-slowing devices and planting of trees along the street to encourage pedestrian traffic.

Dover Kohl will take all the suggestions back to Florida and develop a zoning code that will be further reviewed by the City Council and the community during a series of hands-on sessions, or charrettes, that will take place in November and January.

The approval of the final plan is to be made by the council in the late summer or early fall of 2011. Planners said it's not too late for people to submit ideas or review the work in progress, which can be found at
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From the El Paso Times:

Sun Metro rolls out a new look on buses

By Gustavo Reveles Acosta \ El Paso Times
Posted: 07/04/2010 12:00:00 AM MDT

EL PASO -- Sun Metro buses are getting a makeover, which includes a new paint scheme that incorporates flashier colors and a new logo. Officials with the mass transit system said that as part of a routine maintenance of the buses, each is being given a fresh coat of paint that includes tones of turquoise, green and white. Sun Metro's all-lower-case logo is also prominently displayed on the side of each bus. "We created a new look that people will notice as it rolls by, but more importantly, the public will realize we're not the same old public-transit system of the past," Sun Metro Director Jay Banasiak said. "We wanted the paint scheme to evoke a sharp, clean and modern look. I think we achieved that."

Until now, most Sun Metro buses have had a blue, yellow and white color scheme, and the old Sun Metro logo that features an emerging sun is featured on them. All 159 Sun Metro buses will be repainted. Crews will work on at least one bus every four weeks until all buses are completed. Laura Cruz-Acosta, a spokeswoman for the transit system, said the buses will be repainted as part of a midlife maintenance process, which is done for each bus very six years. Painting each bus will cost about $8,000, she said.

The new color scheme is part of Sun Metro's campaign to rebrand itself as a viable choice for commuters in El Paso. The city government has invested millions of dollars to build modern bus terminals, and the City Council is in the middle of a study that would establish bus rapid transit along several busy corridors. "The new design will serve to promote Sun Metro and encourage the community to do their part to make El Paso the least car-dependent city in the Southwest," Cruz-Acosta said.

Several Downtown Sun Metro riders had not noticed any of the buses with the new paint. Only two were on the streets as of last week. But some said they look forward to riding in them. "The buses are much better now. They don't break down that much and they all have air conditioning," said Ernestina Peralta, who lives in Segundo Barrio. "I'm glad they're trying to make them more appealing. For many of us, the bus is all we have
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