Ask Not For Whom the Bell Tolls

Do y’all remember REDCo?

Sure you do. If you’re not old enough to remember REDCo, you’ve already left El Paso looking for a career.

Just to refresh your already ancient, substance-addled, verging-on-senile, memory, REDCo used to be El Paso’s agent for Economic Development.

Back in about 2012, the El Paso City Council decided that the city wasn’t getting their money’s worth from REDCo, and they cut them off cold turkey. No more money for REDCo.

The Borderplex Alliance stepped in, and took over REDCo’s Economic Development portfolio for free. Actually, they absorbed REDCo, and then separated from REDCo’s Chief Executive about a year later. The Borderplex Alliance decided that they would take up the baton for Economic Development in, not just El Paso, but the whole region: El Paso, Juarez, and Las Cruces.

You know, the Mexoplex Borderplex.

Well, that was great. All those concerned private citizens would take over El Paso’s Economic Development, God bless them, and it wasn’t going to cost the taxpayers any money.

For some reason as yet unknown, that plan didn’t work out. Like a vestigial organ, the City grew its own Economic Development department. Unfortunately for us, the City’s Economic Development offices couldn’t get the job done in their substandard five-year-old digs. From KTSM:

The City of El Paso’s Economic Development Department and its 13 employees will soon be packing up and moving a few blocks over to the historic Anson Mills building near San Jacinto Plaza in Downtown.

The El Paso City Council on Tuesday approved the relocation. The vote was taken as part of the consent agenda with no discussion.

The department will be subleasing 4,729 square feet on the first floor of the Mills Building from the Borderplex Alliance.

Economic Development, which works to attract industry and jobs to El Paso, is currently based at the edge of Downtown in the City 3 building along Texas Ave.

The term of the lease on the new space is six years and three months and takes effect June 1. The lease rate is $6,774 per month with a two percent annual increase, according to city documents.

The total for the term of the lease adds up to $543,391. The figure excludes an estimated $24,000 for city improvements to the new location and moving costs.

Whoa. $543,391 is almost a half a million dollars, if my public education math skills are up to par.

But hey, it’s worth it, if the new conglomerate is bringing home the bacon.

So imagine my surprise when I read this in everyone’s favorite listicle website WalletHub.

Source: WalletHub

El Paso ranks 133 out of the 182 cities rated. Las Cruces ranked next to last at 181 (thank God for Fayetteville, North Carolina).

Unfortunately, Juarez wasn’t included in the report, so we may never know.

You know who should start looking for jobs? Those people who are responsible for our local Economic Development.

6 comments

  1. Rich, Rich, Rich….calm down. The lease rate, based on your reporting, is about $17/sf/yr for some really beautiful first floor, lobby-fronting space in the old White House department store building. That is a fair lease rate. Would the department and City be better served by being stuck down on Texas Avenue in the basement of City #3…or, do we want to project a better image? Why not give them a chance? Think outside the box…..
    Heavydave

    1. Why should it be necessary to have rented space located pretty much anywhere in order to attract new business? It’s not like that new business has already seen the city, or knows what’s what, or what’s where, is it? Would not space in a city owned building be much more reasonable in cost to the taxpayer, who is not exactly benefitting from anything done by this agency?

      1. John, I agree. The city destroyed a City Hall that they had lobbied and whined to get. Now they are spread out in different city-owned buildings. I would think also they could find space for a city agency in one of their spacious, luxury, city-owned buildings.

    2. Superdave,
      How much of a chance should we give them? When can we expect results? Not much has changed since REDCo had the gig, except our municipal debt has increased 240% and our taxes go up every year, and now we’re feeding more than half a million to the people who got us in this situation.
      Rich

  2. Rich, REDCO and its successor EDEP have had a storied history. At first, REDCO and Silver Reyes were trying to ring the bell and claim the prize for bringing in the Army’s First Armor Division. Then the real story came out. Then there were a lot of “almosts” and “came this close”, and it pretty much spelled the end. However, Borderplex Alliance saw the opportunity for a whipping boy and the rest is mystery, er uh history. I think BA uses the City’s ED to make coffee and prod the city along when one of their “special” customers wants to buy land, or start a sports team.

  3. So the city cut the funding to the opportunity center for the homeless in a bold effort to be fiscally responsible. I’ll betcha the basement at City Three looks pretty good to a homeless gal.

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