Saturday , December 16 2017
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Tag Archives: city of el paso

Central Business Association, Mexican Consulate, City Team Up for Downtown Posada

Thanks to the El Paso Central Business Association (CBA) alongside the Consulado General de Mexico and the City of El Paso, the ​37th Annual Posada returns to Downtown El Paso​.

A traditional Mexican celebration, a posada is a re-enactment of Joseph and Mary seeking “shelter” so that Mary can deliver the Christ child. Traditionally the shelter is denied and a procession where children are given candy to help in the search for shelter. There are special songs (villancicos), food, and traditions that accompany this reenactment.

Organizers share that there will be piñatas for the children, champurrado (a hot chocolate drink), atole, pan dulce and buñuelos as well as singers, dancers and actors.

Via a news release, organizers added, “an additional reason for celebrating this Posada for all the citizens of El Paso is to feature our friendly relationship with our sister city Cd. Juarez, Mexico…and it’s open to all regardless of their religion or ethnicity.”

WHAT: Border Posada
WHERE: Saturday, December 16, 2017
WHEN: Starting at 4:00pm at the Paso Del Norte International Bridge located at 1001 N. Santon
Celebration to be followed at San Jacinto Plaza located at 114 W. Mills Ave.

 

City: All Departments to Open Monday through Friday Once Again

During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, members approved a measure to have all City departments to open five days a week.

“I have received numerous requests from the community to have all City departments operate Monday through Friday, this action shows we are here to serve our constituents,” said Mayor Dee Margo. “We are working hard to recruit industry to our City and these new operating hours show we are business-friendly.”

“Opening all offices five days a week follows the City’s mission statement of delivering outstanding services to our residents, businesses, and visitors,” said City Manager Tommy Gonzalez.

“While this action affects only 6% of City employees, we will continue to work to provide flex-time for employees while providing exceptional services to our community.”

City departments will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday effective Monday, January 15, 2018.

 

El Paso Ranked 5th in ‘Top Places to Retire’ By U.S. News and World Report

El Paso ranks among the top 5 places to retire, according to a 2018 U.S. News and World Report of 100 Best Places to Retire in the USA.

“This recognition is a testament to the quality of life that El Paso has to offer retirees,” said Mayor Dee Margo. “To be ranked in the top 5 acknowledges the effort by our city employees to deliver on our vision for a vibrant community.”

El Paso is listed just ahead of Austin (9th) and McAllen (6th) and just behind San Antonio (3rd) in the 100 city list.

El Paso is lauded as the 5th Best Place to Retire in the analysis intended to help people narrow their choices of where to live in retirement.

Profile author Alexis Garcia writes, in part, “It’s easy to write El Paso, Texas, off as another southern cow town. Sure, you’ll find an overwhelming number of steakhouses here, and you’re bound to come across someone sporting a wide-brimmed cowboy hat. But gone are the days when old El Paso was known as the “Six Shooter Capital” – a place known for its outlaws and vices.”

The publication’s rankings were based on a weighted average of these six indexes: Housing Affordability, Happiness, Desirability, Retiree Taxes, Job Market and Healthcare Quality.

To view the entire list, click here.

City: El Paso Ranks in Top Ten of 2017 Digital Cities Survey

The City of El Paso ranked in the Center for Digital Government’s (CDG) top ten Digital Cities Survey winners in cities with populations over 500,000 category.

According to CDG, the City achieved this ranking because of its variety of engagement and mobile-first strategies.

“El Paso has a mobile-strong strategy and has worked on new content management to ensure that the City websites are available for citizens and staff,” said Department of Information Technology Services (DoITS) Director Enrique Martinez.

The annual survey recognizes cities using technology to improve citizen services, enhance transparency, and encouraging citizen engagement.

The City was recognized for:

  • Free Wi-Fi accessibility on buses, in public buildings, facilities, libraries, and some park and recreation locations
  • Upgraded all City websites to a new content management system
  • Online agenda management system, which streamlines creation of City Council agendas
  • City TV, the award-winning municipal TV station, has livestream capabilities and programming available on YouTube
  • Rebranding of the budget think tank as “Chime In,” allowing the public to make suggestions on how to save money or improve services
  • “Ask Laura”, the artificial intelligence virtual information officer who answers website visitors’ purchasing questions
  • Pay-by-cell app for remote payment of parking meters

Donations, Volunteers Needed for Annual El Paso Thanksgiving Celebration

El Paso’s biggest Thanksgiving Dinner tradition will celebrate its 12th consecutive year and organizers are asking for the community’s help.

Donations and volunteers are needed to help prepare and serve the food for the less privileged in our community. On Thanksgiving Day, more than four hundred volunteers will spend their Thanksgiving Day helping to serve a complete holiday meal to those who are less fortunate.

Feeding the Nation’s Homeless Foundation, a 501(c) 3 not for profit charity, is co-sponsoring this event with the City of El Paso.  Council members Sam Morgan, District 4 and Alexsandra Annello, District 2 are the honorary co-chair of the event.

People interested in helping deboning turkeys prior to the event may contact Melody at the Rescue Mission (915) 532-2575.

People interested in volunteering on Thanksgiving Day may contact Former Representative Carl Robinson at (915) 740-7826

Tax deductible contributions should be sent to:

Feeding the Nation’s Homeless Foundation

109 N. Oregon, Ste 1106, El Paso, TX  79901

SDI Technologies Expands Main Distribution Center in El Paso

On Tuesday, the El Paso City Council approved an incentive package resulting in the expansion of SDI Technologies’ main distribution center leading to more jobs.

Via a news release city officials stated, “This agreement will double the size of their employees and greatly increase their investment in the community.”

“This partnership is a testament to the commitment we have to existing business in our community,” Mayor Dee Margo said. “Oftentimes economic developers are too focused on attracting new business that they forget to take care of the businesses in their backyard. We are very fortunate to have success in growing companies that already call El Paso home.”

Founded in 1965, SDI Technologies designs, manufactures, and distributes a broad range of consumer electronics that are both innovative and high in quality. SDI markets these products under some of the world’s most recognizable brands such as iHome and Timex.

“SDI Technologies is exactly the type of company we want in El Paso. These type of advanced manufacturing and advanced logistics jobs is what our community is looking for. This agreement will show similar companies that we are serious about bringing similar businesses to El Paso,” City Manager Tommy Gonzalez said.

The El Paso distribution center serves retailers and consumers all over the U.S. SDI will be doubling their permanent workforce within 5 years and invest over $15 million in the community. SDI has six offices throughout North America and Asia with over 400 employees.

“The most important reason why El Paso was the number one contender among other cities, was the strength and capabilities of its workforce. A large number of our employees have been with us for over 25 years. We are where we are in our industry in no small part thanks to them,” said Ed Nehmad, Vice President of Operations for SDI Technologies Inc.

Deputy City Manager Cary Westin said one of the most exciting aspects of this deal is that SDI is investing in their El Paso distribution center when they could be investing in their other locations.

“This truly is a sign that El Paso is a place the private industry is ready to invest in,” Westin said.  “Now is the time to continue our efforts and aggressively pursue businesses interested in relocating to El Paso.”

 

City of El Paso Receives “SolSmart Gold” Award

The City of El Paso is being honored for being a national leader in advancing solar energy by a federal program created to recognize communities fostering solar energy growth.

SolSmart, a program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, is lauding El Paso as a SolSmart Gold designee for adopting programs and practices that make it faster, easier, and cheaper to go solar.

“The City of El Paso is supporting the growth of renewable energy by incorporating efficiencies into our permitting and inspection processes to make solar energy more accessible,” El Paso Deputy City Manager Cary Westin.

A SolSmart designation is a signal that the community is “open for solar business,” helping to attract solar industry investment and generate economic development and local jobs.

To achieve designation, cities and counties take steps to reduce solar “soft costs,” which are non-hardware costs that can increase the time and money it takes to install a solar energy system.

Examples of soft costs include planning and zoning; permitting; financing; customer acquisition; and installation labor. Soft costs now represent roughly two-thirds of the total price of an installed residential system.

El Paso has implemented key services that help reduce these costs as well as enhancing customer experience, including:

  • A streamlined permitting pathway for small photovoltaics (PV) systems with turn-around time of 24 hours
  • Elimination of excess inspections and consolidation of inspection trips for solar PV.
  • An online solar permitting checklist to guide customers through the process
  • A dedicated, City Council-appointed advisory committee charged with making recommendations regarding renewable energy strategy and industry development.

The SolSmart designation team, led by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), evaluates communities and awards them points based on the actions they take to reduce soft costs and other barriers to solar. Communities that take sufficient action are designed either gold, silver, or bronze.

To date, SolSmart has recognized 111 communities for achieving SolSmart gold, silver, or bronze and only 53 have been recognized as gold.

City Completes Duranguito Petition Review; Council to Discuss on Oct 31st

On Monday, City of El Paso announced the completion of its review of signatures on a petition filed to try to impose historic designation zoning on the site selected by City Council for the Multipurpose Performing Arts and Entertainment Center by placing the matter on the ballot of the next general election.

The petition was filed on September 11, 2017.  The City Clerk’s office authenticated a total of 1,974 signatures of registered voters on the petition. The process was completed within the 20 working days as required by the City Charter.

The City Clerk’s office certified that the necessary number of signatures required under the City Charter, 1,666 signatures, have been submitted but the certification does not automatically place an item on the ballot.

The City Council is the body required to call an election.  The matter will be placed on the agenda for the City Council meeting to be held on October 31.

The proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance included in the petition seeks to create a new Historic District and related use restrictions in the area bounded by San Antonio Avenue, Paisano Drive, Durango Street and South Santa Fe.

Via a news release, city officials said, “On June 27, the Council was advised about what Texas law provides in regards to attempts to impose or repeal zoning by initiative or referendum…Texas Courts have consistently held for decades that zoning matters have been removed from the field of initiative and referendum, irrespective of broad Charter provisions.”

The group Paso del Sur, who submitted the petition on behalf of residents of Duranguito, released the following statement:

Today the Citizen’s Initiative submitted by Paso del Sur on behalf of the residents of Barrio Duranguito on September 11, 2017 was validated by Interim City Clerk Laura Pine.

This second petition was signed by more than 2,200 El Paso voters, and went through a 26-hour validation process by members of Paso del Sur prior to submission to ensure the validity of all the signatures collected.

The City Clerk validated 1,974 signatures, exceeding the required number of 1,666 signatures.

The first petition, which was submitted on May 15, 2017, contained over 2,400 signatures and called upon City Council to establish a historic overlay in Duranguito. City Council refused to take action, which triggered the second round of the petition initiative. With this second petition City Council is bound by its own charter to present the item for a vote in the next general election as a ballot item.

Thousands of people have supported the petition initiative across two rounds. Both petitions were made possible by a diverse group of volunteers ranging from students, elders, and members of grassroots community organizations. Volunteers were able to reach the required number of signatures needed despite the fact that they were limited to only gathering signatures of registered voters who had voted in the May 2017 election – a day with a record-low voter turnout. Apart from signing petitions, hundreds of El Pasoans have also spoken at City Council, attended neighborhood meetings and community events, and have written letters to voice their opposition to the City’s reckless and fiscally irresponsible push to destroy El Paso’s history.

We await City Council’s response in hopes that they will respect the wishes of their constituents who demand that Duranguito be protected from demolition and established as a historic district.

Previous Content HERE.

City, Borderplex Alliance Work With FullBeauty Brands to Retain, Expand Workforce

FullBeauty Brands, a digital and catalog retailer for the plus-size consumer, announced Tuesday that the company is retaining its current workforce and laying the groundwork for future growth.

The company is hiring an additional 80 new employees this year alone for its local customer service center, and they plan to hire up to 500 employees in the next 3 years.

“FullBeauty Brands’ commitment to retention and growth in El Paso demonstrates their investment in our workforce and community. The potential for job growth is promising for the region and sends a signal to other businesses that we are a prime location for investment,” said Mayor Dee Margo.

FullBeauty worked with the Borderplex Alliance, the local regional economic development organization, and The City of El Paso to ensure viable expansion of its workforce. With the approved incentives package from the El Paso City Council, the company will retain 525 employees and continue to be a key employer in the business services sector of El Paso.

“El Paso is a fantastic place to do business. We are proud of our local team and we are excited to expand our impact locally and nationally through outstanding customer service,” said Alfonso Espinoza, the Director of Human Resources for FullBeauty Brand’s El Paso location.

“Our company has been successful in recruiting and keeping talent. We have many examples of homegrown talent moving up to senior positions and recruiting local individuals into these positions-myself included,” Espinoza added.

Over the last few years, FullBeauty has seen a significant increase in its retention rate, which exceeds the industry average.

According to company officials, through investment in recruitment and training efforts, they have been able to identify strong individuals in the community that they plan to develop over the years to come.

“FullBeauty Brand’s decision to expand in El Paso reflects a positive business climate in our city and community. El Paso remains a compelling place to do business and a great area to invest,” said Jon Barela, CEO of the Borderplex Alliance.

City Provides Update on Mexican American Cultural Center Project

A fundraising strategy study commissioned by the City of El Paso to support the success of the fundraising effort for the proposed Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC) and to create benchmarks for the project is complete.

The MACC is a one of three signature bond projects overwhelming approved by voters in 2012. The site for the center, the Abraham Chavez Theater, was approved by City Council in January 2016, at the recommendation of a subcommittee of the City’s Bond Oversight Advisory Committee (BOAC).

The original voter-approved budget for the project was $5.75 million.  The estimated cost, as of two years ago, to establish the MACC at the Abraham Chavez site was $34.6 million.

Council then accepted the site recommendation, contingent on the successful raise of pledged support in the amount of $20 million, made by the private sector group, Mexican-American Cultural Institute (MACI), which is comprised of some members of the Council-approved bond subcommittee for the project.

The fundraising strategy study findings were shared with City Council in executive session on September 19, 2017. The MACI leadership was provided with the study findings, two days later.

City staff and the study consultants, Lee + Associates, will meet MACI in October to review the findings.

BOND PROJECT BACKGROUND

In March 2015, at the direction of City Council a subcommittee of the Bond Oversight Committee (BOAC) was formed. The subcommittee was originally known as the Hispanic Cultural Center Subcommittee (HCC) and was later renamed the Mexican American Cultural Center Subcommittee (MACC).

The subcommittee was composed of 18 members (two appointees by Mayor and two appointees by each member of Council).   The subcommittee received administrative support from City Staff and met regularly in order to provide to Council recommendations on the following:

  • Size of the Hispanic Cultural Center
  • Appropriate budget for the construction of the Hispanic Cultural Center
  • Resources for enhancing existing budget
  • Facility program and amenities
  • Types of services to be offered within the Hispanic Cultural Center
  • Recommendations regarding funding opportunities
  • Recommendations regarding public/private partnerships
  • Means for fundraising
  • Recommendation regarding the name of the Hispanic Cultural Center
  • Recommendation regarding the general location of the Center

In October 2015, the subcommittee reported to Council on its final recommendations.  Council accepted all recommendations made by the subcommittee including the site recommendation of the Abraham Chavez Theatre and the name, Mexican American Cultural Center.  Council also directed City staff to complete a Programmatic Study exploring how to make this site work for the proposed project.  Study results were to be presented to Council in no more than 120 days from date assigned.

In order to provide focused, subject matter expertise and quality results in support of the project, two consultant groups, Quintanilla Schmidt Consulting and Carl Daniel/Franco/Saldana Architects, were commissioned to work together to develop the study.

In January 2016, the Programmatic Study exploring the Abraham Chavez Theatre as the site for the cultural center was presented to Council. The original voter-approved budget for the project was $5.75 million.  The cost to establish the cultural center at the Abraham Chavez site was $34.6 million.

Council accepted the site recommendation, contingent on the successful raise of pledged support in the amount of $20 million, made by the private sector group, Mexican-American Cultural Institute.

MACI, whose membership included nine of the eighteen members who also served on the Council-appointed bond subcommittee, had previously stepped forward, fully advocating for the location of the MACC at the Chavez Theatre site.

The group also expressed its desire to partner with the City in a public-private partnership in order to realize the creation of the cultural center at the Chavez Theatre site, including a pledge to raise $20 million in additional funding needed to meet the costs of the conversion of the site.

Council-then also directed:

  • City staff to transition work on the Project from the MACC Subcommittee to MACI, once MACI was formally incorporated as a non-profit.
  • City staff to create benchmarks to align $20 million MACI fundraising pledge with the MACC project development.

Following Council direction and in order to support the success of the fundraising effort, a fundraising strategy study was commissioned.  Consultants, Lee + Associates, were contracted to provide subject matter expertise to develop the study.

In January 2017, the consultancy contract was approved by Council.

In September 18, 2017, the consultants, presented the study findings to BOAC, and they presented them to Council the following day. Both presentations were made in executive session. MACI received the presentation via email on September 20, 2017, and were also provided access to hard copies of the full report on that day.  The next day, the MACI leadership collected the hard copies of the full report.

In October 2017, City staff and study consultants will meet with MACI board members to review the study findings.

City Officials Tout Partnerships, Investments in Downtown Redevelopment, Preservation

The City of El Paso invites the public to take a closer look at Downtown to see how strategic investments are preserving its historic buildings and spurring private development.

“The City of El Paso is being strategic about the projects we are pursuing for the downtown area,” Mayor Dee Margo said. “The current influx of downtown projects has created additional opportunities that the City can capitalize on to create new jobs and increase the quality of life throughout our community.”

Renovation of these six historic buildings represent approximately $191 million in private investment and a commitment of more than $61 million in total incentives.

More than $250 million in public and private funds have been invested since 2013 in the restoration of historic structures and the economic revitalization of Downtown. The City has been actively involved in the majority of the restoration projects through partnerships that provide tax incentives.

Historic renovation projects include the: Martin Building, Bassett Tower, Banner Building, Stanton Boutique Hotel, Paso Del Norte Hotel (formerly the Camino Real Hotel), and most recently the iconic Plaza Hotel. These six buildings are found on the National Register of Historic Places and five of them were designed by Henry C. Trost.

 

Overall, the City has incentivized a total 21 projects in the downtown area since 2013; a dozen that have been completed, six that are under construction, and three more that are under development. The total private investment in these projects is nearly $307 million and represent more than $87 million in local and state incentives.

The 12 completed development projects represent more than $35.9 million in private investment. A few of the larger projects include: the Hotel Indigo completed in 2016; the Martin Building and Annex completed in 2016; and the Campbell Apartments completed in 2017.

The renewed enthusiasm for reinvesting in downtown has resulted in restoration of the Anson Mills Building, using federal tax credits obtained by the developer. Three more proposed downtown development projects representing more than $154 million are in the works. They include: the WestStar Tower expected to be completed in 2020; the Plaza Hotel expected to be completed in 2020; and the Banner Building expected to be completed in 2021.

“Our partnership with the State of Texas and private developers is pivotal to the success of our downtown revitalization and our ability to deliver on our goal to create an environment conducive to strong sustainable economic development,” City Manager Tommy Gonzalez said. “The partnerships are the reason the majority of these historic preservation projects are under way.”

The City will continue its concentrated efforts to work with partners to increase the appeal of Downtown El Paso to people of all ages.

“Downtown is a place where we want people to live, work, play and visit. Our goal is to make Downtown El Paso a major focal point of the city while at the same time preserving our history and promoting our culture,” Cary Westin, City of El Paso Deputy City Manager, said.

City: Crews Working Extended Hours to Repair Potholes Caused by Summer Rains

The City of El Paso Streets and Maintenance Department has far exceeded the number of potholes repaired this year compared to all of fiscal year 2017.

As of last week, crews had repaired 44,030 potholes, which is 16,559 more repairs than the 27,371 fixed in all of the previous fiscal year. The higher volume of repairs is the result of the recent summer rains and other weather events.

Crews have been working six days week this summer to eradicate potholes that developed from rainstorms.

The City is filling more potholes than ever before thanks to a new process that streamlined operations by embracing Lean Six Sigma (LSS) principles. Prior to implementing LSS principles pothole repair crews conducted repairs based on public service requests.

Today, crews are assigned to smaller geographic areas and repairs are scheduled based on a geographic focus. These changes have reduced the time workers spend driving to their next repair and has improved time management, efficiency, and increased the number of potholes repaired.

On average, service requests are closed out within a couple weeks.

To report a pothole, click HERE.

City’s Purchasing and Strategic Sourcing Department Honored

The City of El Paso is pleased to announce that the Purchasing and Strategic Sourcing Department received the ProcureCon EPIC “Innovator of the Year Award” for its EP MarketPlace.

The EP MarketPlace is a City web-based platform that allows employees to shop for goods and services in a way similar to shopping on Amazon or eBay.

Since September 2014, EP MarketPlace has reduced the cost for purchase orders by more than $485,000.

ProcureCon Indirect promotes continuous improvement and training for procurement professionals in the achievement level of proficiency. Their innovative processes are noteworthy within the industry.

City Helps 50+ Homeless Veterans find Permanent Housing

56 veterans who once were homeless now have permanent housing.

The update was provided Tuesday to City Council as part of a presentation by the City of El Paso’s Military Affairs Liaison Dwayne Williams.

“Veterans have risked their lives for us. We owe them our respect and every opportunity possible to help them live comfortably,” Mayor Dee Margo said.

Williams, who joined the City in March 2017, participates in bi-weekly meetings with the El Paso Coalition for the Homeless and partners on “Veterans Functional Zero.” The coordination has helped place 56 veterans in permanent housing within the last 90 days.

“We are making great strides in building partnerships necessary to provide a support system for our veterans,” City Manager Tommy Gonzalez said.

Since Williams came on board, the City has established and strengthened its relationships with various groups to include the Veterans Affairs Advisory Board, the El Paso Veterans Treatment Court, Armed Forces Chamber Sub-Committees, and Veterans Functional Zero.

Other City initiatives for veterans include:

  • Veteran Resources Website – The informative website provides valuable information in a centralized location to help veterans and their families better find resources and services. It features information on education, training, employment, childcare, healthcare, food assistance, transportation, and housing.
  • Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee – This committee was formed to serve as a source of information related to the status, resources and services available within El Paso to the City’s large veteran population. In addition, the committee is asked to evaluate and recommend programs, policies and practices designed to alleviate veterans’ difficulties in meeting basic needs related to transportation, housing, employment and other areas affecting veterans.
  • Annual Veteran City Employee Luncheon – Knowing that veterans are living and working all around us, the City of El Paso started a new tradition, a Veterans Day Luncheon for its more than 600 employees who are proud veterans. This luncheon allows City leaders to thank our veterans not only for their service to El Paso, but also for their service to our Country. It will mark its third year in November.
  • Veteran Employment Incentive – In 2015, the City introduced an economic development incentive policy which includes a bonus rebate (property or sales tax) for companies that actively employ veterans (15% of their workforce) and establish a formal veteran hiring program.

City, Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority Partner for Kern Place Project

A project that will improve street and pedestrian safety, and highlight the entrance to one of the City’s most iconic corridors and neighborhoods got a jumpstart Tuesday.

City Council voted to enter into an interlocal agreement with the Camino Real Regional Mobility Authority for the management and construction of a pedestrian improvements project on the Westside near the University of Texas at El Paso.

The project includes the construction of the signature Sun City Lights archway in Kern Place.

The approximate $2.8 million project aims to create new economic development opportunities by combining public art, urban design, and neighborhood revitalization strategies. Construction is expected to begin next month and finish by the end of the year.

The project scope includes street reconstruction, resurfacing, increased parking, sidewalk reconstruction and widening, traffic calming, street lighting and landscaping along the portion of Cincinnati and Glory Road/Baltimore streets located between Oregon and Stanton.

This project is part of the City’s efforts to promote the visual image of El Paso and enhance quality of life through recreational, cultural and educational environments.

The project is funded by certificates of obligation.

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