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Ports-to-Plains Alliance


Negative report on NM roads disputed

Albuquerque Journal

February 5, 2016

State transportation officials took issue Thursday with a report released by a Washington, D.C.-based group that found that a quarter of New Mexico’s roads are in poor condition, and 16 percent of bridges are deficient or obsolete.

The report issued by TRIP, a nonprofit research group, contends that the New Mexico Department of Transportation’s 2016 budget will provide only 46 percent of the annual funding needed to maintain state roads and bridges.

“Without additional funding at the local, state and federal levels, New Mexico’s roads and bridges will continue to deteriorate, and the costs passed along to drivers will increase even further,” Carolyn Kelly, TRIP’s associate director, said at a news conference.

The report contends that 25 percent of locally and state-maintained roads are in poor condition and an additional 32 percent are in “mediocre or fair” condition. For bridges, 16 percent show significant deterioration or do not meet modern design standards, it said.

Poor roads and bridges contribute to traffic congestion, safety problems and higher costs for drivers, it contends.

Transportation Secretary Tom Church said the report reached inaccurate conclusions because it included municipal and county roads, which are in worse condition than those maintained by the state.  Read on…

New Mexico TRIP Report


Ports-to-Plains Alliance Joins Family and Community in Remembering Phil Neighbors, San Angelo, TX

Phil Neighbors was one of the good ones.  He loved his family, his community, his state and his region.  The Ports-to-Plains Alliance was able to work with Phil in numerous projects including hosting our annual meeting and the southern work group.  He stayed connected whether there was a San Angelo event or not because he recognized that transportation affects local economies.  His death was a shock to his family and his community.  Thank you Phil for your commitment! You will be missed by many.

“Phil was such a giant. He knew everyone, not only in San Angelo but also all across the state. He could have gotten a higher-paying job in a larger city. But he loved San Angelo and its people. He chose to live here and help build this community, and for that San Angelo is a much better place,” Hughes said.

Why San Angelo Chamber President Phil Neighbors Mattered

San Angelo Live!

February 4, 2016

Sunday, he collapsed after teaching Sunday school and was rushed to San Angelo Community Medical Center with an embolism of his heart. EMS and doctors worked tirelessly on him, including surgery. He never fully regained consciousness. He was pronounced dead at 4:08 p.m. Wednesday. Phil Neighbors, the President of the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce, was 64.

Neighbors will be remembered for his impeccable character, ethic for working hard, and a natural ability to bring sometimes-disparate groups together to agree to solve mutual problems for the benefit of all.  Read on...


Ports-to-Plains, LEDA host Energy and Ag Summit

Highlighting the issues affecting the region’s key economic drivers will be the focus of the 2016 Port-to-Plains Energy and Ag Summit co-hosted by the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance March 30 – 31 at the Arbor Hotel and Conference Center in Lubbock, Texas.

“This is quite a volatile time for energy and agriculture, which are the industries that are critical to the economies throughout the Ports-to-Plains Corridor region.  That is why we think it is so important for business and community leaders to learn as much as possible about the key issues we are facing so that we can overcome challenges, identify opportunities and thrive economically,” said Ports-to-Plains President Michael Reeves.

“The dynamic changes in our energy sector right now are of major interest to Lubbock businesses, as those changes drive business decisions both short-term and long-term. Likewise, agriculture continues to be the cornerstone of our community and an industry that will continue to drive Lubbock’s economy for years to come,” said Lubbock Economic Development Alliance CEO John Osborne.

The two-day conference will feature speakers from throughout the Ports-to-Plains region that stretches from Alberta, Canada to Mexico.  Former House Ag Committee Chairman will give an overview of critical issues in agriculture.  Representatives from Monsanto and Continental Dairy Facilities Southwest will give updates on their recently announced projects that will be significant job creators on the South Plains.

Energy presentations will showcase the region’s diverse and productive energy production portfolio from oil and gas to renewable sources such as wind and solar.  Consul General of Canada Sara Wilshaw will discuss trade opportunities with the United States largest trade partner and northern neighbor, while presentations from Ports-to-Plains partners in Mexico will share the developments in Texas’ largest foreign trade market.

A strong transportation infrastructure is critical to moving the region’s ag and energy products to market, and these issues will be featured as well.  Lubbock Mayor and Ports-to-Plains Treasurer Glen Robertson will give an update on efforts to extend Interstate 27.  Texas Department of Transportation Interim Director of Freight and International Trade will speak on the Texas Freight Mobility Plan and what it means for the Ports-to-Plains Corridor.

“We are putting together a great agenda that can provide critical insights for our region,” said Reeves.

Registration is required and information and full details about the Energy and Ag Summit are available on the Ports-to-Plains website at


Manufacturing and Distribution Impacts of Ports-to-Plains

Most local economic development efforts include a focus on primary job development.  The 2004 Ports-to-Plains Corridor Development and Management Plan modeled the expanded four-lane corridor from the Texas/Mexico border to Denver, CO.  Given its southern terminus at the ports of Laredo, Eagle Pass and Del Rio, Texas and the Corridor’s significance as an international trade route, much of the economic development potential of the Corridor stems from economic activity related to NAFTA trade, namely manufacturing and distribution activities. This analysis projected the potential growth in these industries that would occur if development unfolds as it had along other more established NAFTA trade routes of Interstate 35 and Interstate 25.

Between 2006 and 2030, the potential expansion of manufacturing and distribution activities in the Corridor is projected to generate approximately 39,636 jobs and about $16.1 billion in earnings in 2004 dollars throughout the Corridor states.

For the counties along the PTP Corridor, increasing annual employment growth rates associated with improved transportation infrastructure projected the addition of approximately 3,324 net new manufacturing employees and about 9,381 net new transportation/warehousing employees by 2030. In manufacturing, total employment by 2030 given increased transportation investment would be 4.4 percent higher than the baseline figure while increased employment in transportation/warehousing would be 22.9 percent higher than the baseline figure.

Direct benefits measure the number of jobs created in that specific industry.  Total benefits include indirect benefits in addition to  jobs created in other companies serving that industry and the retail jobs to serve the growing workforce.  In 2030, it is estimated that the direct benefit of an increase of 3,324 manufacturing jobs would result in a total employment benefit of 8,409 jobs in project Corridor counties. Similarly, the direct transportation/warehousing employment benefit of about 9,381 would result in an increase of approximately 20,699 jobs in project Corridor counties. Combined, the total estimated direct and indirect benefit of increases in employment that is associated with transportation improvements in the project Corridor is estimated to be 29,108 jobs.

Remember that these projections are only for Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Colorado.  The Ports-to-Plains Alliance is confident that the remaining Alliance corridor will grow the primary job impacts to higher levels as the entire North American corridor expands.

Higher population communities can certainly provide a workforce to meet the needs of larger new transportation warehousing and manufacturing opportunities.  Smaller communities, while often not having the workforce to attract larger new facilities, can certainly benefit from smaller facilities in the same way.


Maintaining and Expanding Colorado’s Statewide Transportation System:A Rural Perspective 

By Ports-to-Plains Alliance

The condition of the statewide highway system is deteriorating.  This is not about “their roads” and “our roads”.  It must be about expanding and maintaining the entire statewide system.  Congestion and road condition issues are real in urban areas.  Still the urban areas of the state must acknowledge that urban Colorado needs the statewide system to grow and prosper. Colorado roads serve all of Colorado and the nation.  

It takes only a quick look at a state highway map to recognize that the miles between urban areas require a safe, efficient system of moving goods through rural areas.  Movement of freight and people is about connections.  Urban areas rely upon rural corridors to connect to markets and resources necessary to grow their economies.  Not only do rural corridors make those connections to markets but they are also sources of the resources needed to drive those economies.  The statewide transportation system provides the food, fuel and fiber needed in urban population areas.

This is not a question of fair share.  There is not enough revenue to expand and maintain the statewide system or to address the urban transportation needs.  CDOT and its Transportation Commission have had to make decisions that they do not want to make – decisions driven by its declining budget.

The Ports-to-Plains Alliance has published Maintaining and Expanding Colorado’s Statewide Transportation System:  A Rural Perspective for the recent Voices of Rural Colorado event hosted by CLUB 20, Action 22 and Progressive 15. It provides a comprehensive look, from a rural perspective, at the statewide transportation system, funding, bonding, municipalities and counties, state policies and urban needs.  The conclusions from the rural overview are below. Ports-to-Plains urges you to read the entire publication to better understand the value and issues facing the Colorado’s statewide transportation system.  The entire publication (8 pages) is available free of charge at

  • Rural Transportation Infrastructure is in trouble
  • The major users of the statewide system outside urban Colorado are not rural residents.  They are the urban residents on their way to a vacation or to visit family, tourists visiting our beautiful state, and trucks moving goods and resources into, out of and within the state. Should all of Colorado support the cost of maintaining that infrastructure?
  • Every local, urban solution creates a block of voters unwilling to vote for statewide transportation funding.
  • Rural legislators must understand that failure to support new statewide revenues damages the rural infrastructure.
  • Rural Colorado does not have the population required to use current tools like P3s and RTAs to generate enough revenue to maintain the statewide system.  Just looking at Interstate 70 and Interstate 76 in rural Colorado, where will the funding come from to maintain those interstates?  A mile of interstate reconstruction costs more than the entire budgets of many rural communities.

Infrastructure and Competitiveness

From Critical Condition: Infrastructure for Economic Development

Economic Development Research Partners / International Economic Development Council

January 22, 2016

Infrastructure spurs economic development in the following ways.

  • Infrastructure Development Increases the Competitiveness of Local Firms

An efficient infrastructure system allows for the unhampered flow of goods and services. Infrastructure is a public good that contributes to a business advantage, which in turn increases functionality and profits. With a strong infrastructure system—especially in the realm of transportation—businesses are able to manage inventories and transport goods less expensively, as well as access a variety of suppliers and markets. Furthermore, their employees are able to more reliably and affordably transport themselves to work.

  • Infrastructure is Key to Attracting Companies and Talent Workers

Appropriate infrastructure is a top criterion in business location decisions For example, a food processing plant will not consider locating in a community unless the sewer and water systems are sufficient to handle plant capacity.  As Area Development points out, “Whether the project being considered is an advanced manufacturing facility, logistics/distribution warehouse, data center, life sciences campus, or a corporate headquarters, state, regional, and local infrastructure assets are fundamental to the decision-making process.” Infrastructure can also draw talent. Young people are increasingly moving to cities that offer urban lifestyles enhanced by investment in cultural amenities, vibrant public spaces, and public transportation.

  • Infrastructure Development Creates a Cycle of Investment and Economic Growth

Investing in infrastructure increases the property value of the land it is built upon. This principle is the same theory behind tax increment financing, an innovative and popular form of public financing which allows municipalities to borrow against the future property taxes of an improved area. Residential areas that benefit from infrastructure improvement see property values rise as living standards, such as shorter commute times and closer proximity to desirable amenities, increase.

  • Well-Planned Infrastructure Increases Household Disposable Income

After housing, transportation is the second-highest expense for American families.  Most of that money is spent on automobile transportation. Decreasing vehicle miles traveled, time in traffic, and distance from destinations decreases the amount spent on transportation, thereby increasing disposable income, which grows local economies through expenditures on retail, restaurants, and entertainment. Infrastructure solutions to alleviate the expense of automobile transportation include developing more efficient traffic networks and public transit.

  • Infrastructure Investment Creates Jobs

In the Great Depression, the federal government funded infrastructure projects that supplied jobs for thousands of workers. A similar investment today could create accessible jobs for those workers still suffering from the effects of the Great Recession and increase economic activity throughout the country. Additionally, the production and sale of raw materials would increase.


How Economic Developers Can Influence Infrastructure Planning and Development

From Critical Condition: Infrastructure for Economic Development

Economic Development Research Partners / International Economic Development Council

January 22, 2016

Economic developers have a unique position between the public and the private sectors that enables them to influence infrastructure planning and development and engender support from both sides. They can:

  • Participate in local, regional, and state infrastructure planning.

As representatives of the business community, economic developers can speak to business concerns during the local, regional, and state planning process.

  • Educate community leaders on the importance of infrastructure to competitiveness.

This includes the retention and creation of jobs as well as building the workforce.

  • Take action on these challenges by working with lawmakers and business leaders

With their connections, economic developers can bring together leaders in government and business to influence infrastructure investment.

  • Analyze how national challenges will manifest themselves in their communities.

Because economic developers monitor industry trends at the national and local levels, they can predict how their communities will develop and their future infrastructure needs.

  • Support financing of infrastructure construction and maintenance.

Economic developers can advocate for—and sometimes contribute to —funding infrastructure, whether through public or private means.


How to ensure incentive deals align with economic strategy

Smart Incentives

January 7, 2016

  • Summarize in a few sentences why the incentivized investment is good for the community. Have your elevator pitch ready. Avoid economic jargon or references to modeling output.

  • Report on basic project characteristics – jobs, investment, and job quality. The number of jobs and total investment in a project are still the attributes that interest most people, and reporting on expected job creation and investment value remains a fundamental part of the mission of most economic development organizations. At the same time, job quality – as determined by wages & salaries, benefits, educational or skill requirements and industry sector – is becoming a more important indicator of successful economic development.

  • Define the location where the project will take place and where the benefits will accrue. This will become more important as economic developers are increasingly focused on expanding economic opportunities in distressed areas.  Read on…