On Tuesday, the City Council approved a contract with Stantec Consulting Services, who will assist city officials in developing a plan to provide the framework for managing growth citywide, particularly on the Eastside.
“El Paso is growing and meeting our growth challenges means we need to be ready to maintain and expand municipal services and infrastructure in a manner that addresses the needs of our citizens while making growth areas attractive to private development,” said City of El Paso Capital Improvement Director Sam Rodriguez.
“This plan will serve as a guide for managing future public investment to deter growth from happening haphazardly,” Rodriguez added.
Via a news release, city officials shared, “The firm will provide the City with the tools and key policies needed to manage growth citywide and a masterplan for managing growth on the Eastside, the City’s fastest-growing region.”
The contract is funded through the City’s 2019 Capital Plan.
“Those who live, work and visit the Eastside have told us they want a network of streets that are safe and easy to navigate, more public safety services, walkable blocks, transit-oriented development, parks and open space serving local and regional needs, libraries, unique and memorable places, destination retail, and a mix of housing options for a range of incomes. This plan will provide us with the tools and key policies to achieve a sustainable roadmap to the future,” Mayor Pro-tem Michiel Noe said.
Development of the plan will take approximately 10 months, and officials say that, “the process will include an extensive public engagement process to ensure growth areas are developed in line with the community’s vision.”
While political talk stoked fears of the border, security and jobs for most of 2016, a recently-released report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas showed El Paso once again out-performed both state and national averages for job growth and economic activity.
According to the report, while El Paso’s economic activity expanded modestly, the area created jobs at a 2.5% pace, outperforming both the state and nation. Fed Officials say the growth is partially attributed to strong gains in maquiladora activity in Juárez; with trade inching up for the second consecutive year.
Even as payrolls grew in 2016, employment slowed from 2015 growth of 2.9% but surpassed its long-term average growth rate of 1.6%. Last year also marked the second consecutive year that El Paso job gains outperformed those of Texas (1.4 %) and the U.S. (1.6%).
El Paso added over 7,500 jobs with broad-based industry gains in 2016. Among the services industries, financial activities registered the fastest increase, rising 7.0% in 2016. It was followed by professional and business services (4.6%) and trade, transportation and utilities (3.4 %).
Even with U.S. industrial sector showing sluggish growth, Mexico’s maquiladoras continued to add jobs. According to Mexico’s IMMEX series, Juárez manufacturing employment totaled over 263,000 in November (latest data available), up 4.6 percent from a year ago.
Those numbers add up to total trade of $75.2 billion, up 2.8 percent from $73.1 billion in 2015. The increase was due to a 5.3 percent gain in imports, which offset a 0.6 percent decline in exports. While trade through the El Paso port of entry rose, total U.S.–Mexico trade declined 2.6 percent over the same time period, from $538 billion in 2015 to $525 billion in 2016
On the purchasing side, the El Paso housing market remained strong, even though home prices remain 5% below their 2008 first-quarter peak, according to a price index from the Federal Housing Finance Agency. While U.S. home prices dropped drastically due to the financial crisis, they are on an upward trend again and have surpassed their 2007 first-quarter peak price.
In Texas, home prices have increased at a much faster rate. On a year-over-year basis, home prices in Texas rose 12 percent, compared with El Paso’s growth of 4.0 percent and the national growth of 8.0 percent during the same period.
The El Paso metropolitan statistical area includes El Paso and Hudspeth counties.
Staff Report March 7, 2016NewsComments Off on Latest UTEP Economic Forecast Points to Slow Growth along Border in 2016
El Paso can expect a slight uptick in demographic and economic growth in the next few years, according to the latest economic outlook report created by The University of Texas at El Paso’s Border Region Modeling Project (BRMP).
New residents will purchase and register more automobiles, adding to the number of vehicles on the roads, increase annual retail sales to more than $12 billion, and lead to higher levels of residential and non-residential construction, said Tom Fullerton, Ph.D., UTEP professor of economics and finance.
The report also documents ongoing economic growth in Juárez, Mexico, due mostly to export-oriented manufacturing, and relatively slow growth in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Area leaders from the fields of finance, construction, real estate, retail property management, hospitality and manufacturing, and representatives from the region’s public utilities and government use data in the forecast to plan for the business conditions they will face during the next two years, said Fullerton, who has produced these annual reports since 1998.
The information gives decision-makers in El Paso; Las Cruces; Juárez; and Chihuahua City, Mexico, an idea of the economic conditions they will likely experience while developing plans to allocate resources.
“We cover everything associated with the border area economy from A-Z,” Fullerton said, referring to a list that includes population changes, employment figures, hotel and income data, military troop levels, and even weather reports. “Some of the data in this model go back five decades.”
Fullerton said the report takes about a year to create. Adam Walke, BRMP research associate economist, and UTEP economic graduate students Ernesto Duarte and Juan Cárdenas assisted with the 2015 report released in December.
The researchers spent months gathering and updating historical data and forecasts of the U.S. and Mexican economies before inputting the data into a 250-equation computer model and interpreting the results. Each report forecasts two years into the future.
Roberto Coronado, Ph.D., assistant vice president in charge and senior economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, El Paso Branch, assisted Fullerton on several of the first BRMP annual reports while a UTEP graduate student in the late 1990s.
“I think it is very powerful to have the economic information the University provides through this research center,” Coronado said. “It’s always better to have the best information available and I believe the information the University provides is quite valuable.”
Pedro Niño, Jr., a research analyst with CBRE Inc., a national company that offers commercial real estate services with an El Paso office, said he began to read the report as a UTEP graduate student in economics and has cited the data in his professional reports.
“I translate the information about jobs, trade and manufacturing into real estate terms,” said Niño, another of Fullerton’s former students. “At the end of the day, this forecast offers a good picture of the economy now and in the coming months. It offers a full perspective.”
Dinah Kilgore, executive director/chief appraiser of the El Paso Central Appraisal District, said she has read every BRMP annual report since its inception. She called it a reliable tool that helps anticipate staffing needs, land valuations, and possible zoning changes. She planned to order additional copies of the report to share with other departments around her office.
“As appraisers, we’re always interested in seeing the direction the city is going; what kind of industry is coming,” Kilgore said, then added rhetorically, “Why would we keep coming back if the information wasn’t useful?”
The BRMP was one of the main reasons Fullerton came to UTEP from the University of Florida in 1996. UTEP, with the support of the business community, wanted to hire someone who could conduct the kind of border economic research that could benefit entities at the regional and international levels.
Bob Cook, president and CEO of El Paso-based Cook Strategies Group, LLC, recalled being a proponent in the mid-1990s of creating an independent third-party organization that could provide a comprehensive analysis of the regional economy.
“It was great for the University to step up,” said Cook, an economic development professional for more than 30 years, including leadership stints with the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce and founding president of the El Paso Regional Economic Development Corporation (REDCo). “The data were very helpful to us as another check as to whether or not we were doing our job.”
Among the BRMP’s main financial supporters are the El Paso Water Utilities, Hunt Communities, and the City of El Paso’s Office of Management and Budget. Fullerton and Walke periodically also participate on inter-disciplinary research grants with faculty from other colleges on campus and are finalizing a multi-year project underwritten by the Water Research Foundation in Denver.