Union Pacific invited business and community leaders this spring to tour their new rail facility by train from El Paso to Santa Teresa, NM. The $400 million dollar project just outside the Santa Teresa Port Of Entry in New Mexico will span over 2,000 acres and be twelve miles long when completed next year.
Companies located along the border are highly anticipating the opening of this facility. “I imagine when O’Hare Airport was built in Chicago, it is to this scale,” said Jerry Pacheco, Vice-President of the Border Industrial Association. Pacheco added that the new project includes intermodal yards, diesel refueling stations, and crew stations.
The new rail facility is expected to enhance trade and manufacturing on what is known as the “Sunset Route,” connecting El Paso to Los Angeles. “It’s a big step in supporting the infrastructure in the Southwest, said Pablo Gonzalez, Senior Business Manager with Union Pacific’s Mexico Group.
Nearby communities are interested in potential trade possibilities as well. “I think, we will probably see a lot of goods come to Las Cruces and El Paso from the West Coast, but some might start coming from the gulf,” said Greg Smith, City Councilor from Las Cruces, NM. Smith also mentioned the widening of the Panama Canal as another project that could open doors to new trading partners for the region.
The rail facility under construction may enhance business on the other side of the border as well. According to the Border Industrial Association, Foxconn on an average day has 5,800 workers. The electronics manufacturing company busses in employees from Ciudad Juárez to the one million square foot factory located in San Jerónimo, Chihuahua. Foxxconn ships 55,000 Dell computers into the United States everyday. “The U.P. (Union Pacific) project in my view will bring other components, and hopefully we can develop the airport, said Francisco Uranga, Corporate Vice President and Chief Business Operations Officer of Latin America for Foxconn. Uranga mentioned Alliance Airport, an industrial airport located in Ft. Worth, Tex. as example of what may be possible.
The new project also will be equipped with technology that businesses will need to compete in the 21st century. “The opportunity to recruit more high-tech jobs to the area is of concern to me,” said Barbara Walker, with Cisco. “I think as we become more recognized as a center along the border, a region that is very important, I think we will get those jobs, said Walker. Walker added that fiber optic technology is to be installed along the rails to enhance communications for businesses in the area.
In New Mexico, if Union Pacific invests over $100 million it will be exempt from paying state locomotive taxes, thanks to state legislation that was aimed at getting the company to invest in Santa Teresa. Ivan Jaime, Director of Border Policy and Community Affairs, said the construction alone has had a positive impact on the region’s economy. “The construction has brought 3,000 jobs to the area,” said. Jaime said that after completion 300 permanent jobs are required to operate the facility that is expected to be ready in 2014.