everaging advantages that come with the New Mexican border region’s geographic location offers companies an ideal opportunity to operate cost-effectively, access to a talent pool spanning three states and ideal market proximity for domestic and international trade.
Trade along the U.S.-Mexico border is an integral part of the U.S. economy.Trade came to a total of $661.2 billion in products during 2021, making Mexico the United States’ No. 2 trade partner behind China.
In May 2022, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced federal and state leaders were investing $700 million in infrastructure improvements and job creation along the border. Areas of focus include modernization of the San Jerónimo-Santa Teresa crossing and access roads; $50 million toward a Border Highway Connector (labor force accessibility); $8 million for water infrastructure; $20 million to the Doña Ana Jet Port; and $170 million for an expansion at Santa Teresa with a congressional request for a Presidential permit for a rail bypass.
Time is Money
Last year, New Mexico’s Santa Teresa Port of Entry was the location of over 160,000 commercial truck crossings. As trade at Santa Teresa continues to grow, it now ranks sixth in land port volume, according to Border Industrial Association President Jerry Pacheco.
The Port is close to El Paso, Texas, whose port of entry has ramped up border policies focused on targeting illegal immigration. These stricter security implementations result in longer wait times for commercial vehicles to pass through. Reports show the El Paso Port of Entry wait times increased by as much as 10 hours at one point in 2022.
In January 2023, President Biden was greeted at the El Paso border by Texas Governor Greg Abbott with a letter urging enforcement of federal immigration laws to secure U.S. borders.
Enhanced border inspections put in place by Gov. Abbott have increasingly pushed traffic to re-route 38 minutes west, crossing through New Mexico’s Santa Teresa Port of Entry.
As the Santa Teresa Port of Entry is now recognized as part of the El Paso Industrial Marketplace, the region is seeing new spec development to accommodate growth as a result.
Aries Worldwide Logistics, a Houston-based company, announced in November 2022 that Santa Teresa was the strategic location for its latest expansion. The 145,000-sq.-ft. warehouse is the only warehouse in Santa Teresa with designated Foreign Trade Zone services open for all clients, anticipating an annual freight volume valued at $250 million. The project creates 20 new jobs, with more potentially on the horizon.
“It was a no-brainer to expand Aries Worldwide Logistics’ newest branch into Santa Teresa, New Mexico,” said Aries District Director Jose A. Guzman in the New Mexico Partnership’s announcement. “Statistics have shown that the Santa Teresa Port of Entry’s land port volume has quickly risen from 17th to sixth place in national rankings.”
If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It
The New Mexico Borderplex region is made up of counties in New Mexico, Mexico and Texas, which on their own form a metro area in which the three share industries, supply chain and talent pools.
Nearshoring and onshoring operations have brought increased interest from foreign companies looking to reach the U.S. market, many looking at Mexico for the solution.
“When you leverage the entire borderplex region of what is El Paso and Doña Ana County, we have a very strong story to tell these companies looking to onshore or nearshore and that is that you can accomplish everything in one region,” says Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance President and CEO Davin Lopez. “You don’t have to have part of your production in central Mexico and the other part in Michigan, for example. Here, you can take advantage of both sides of the border and cut your supply chain because you’re having it all done in one region.”
The Inflation Reduction Act and CHIPS and Science Act passed by Congress in 2022 require a certain percentage of domestic production. For Lopez, this has resulted in New Mexico hitting the radar for potential investment.
The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded Doña Ana County $1.1 million in August 2022 to create an integrated logistics hub known as New Mexico Tradeport. The grant will allow new infrastructure in line with the region’s transition to a low-carbon economy and develop expansion opportunities for trade and transportation providers.
That means electrifying Interstate routes for vehicles and fleets coming to and from the border, and providing EV charging along I-10 (which leads to ports in Long Beach and Los Angeles, California) and I-25. Right now the state is working with El Paso Electric to determine the best locations for new EV charging infrastructure.
“Site readiness is absolutely critical, especially when you’re talking about infrastructure,” says Lopez. “That sends a message out to the world that the infrastructure is in place to move forward in Las Cruces and of course Santa Teresa.”