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ABC-7 Xtra: El Paso Jobs

>> live where news comes first, this is “abc-7 xtra. >> good evening, i’m maria garcia, welcome to “abc-7 xtra. tonight we’re talking about jobs in the borderland. the city of el paso has been trying for years to incite good paying companies to either expand or move here. tonight we’ll talk about the challenges to that, the success stories, what’s working, what’s lacking. just this week we learned of fred loya expanding in el paso thanks for financial improvements from the city and the count. fred loya insurance will create 562 new jobs in el paso. according to the insurance company the average starting salary will be about $30,000. the city expects fred loya’s expansion to have a local economic impact of more than $29 million. joining us tonight mayor oscar leeser and the city’s economic development managing director cary westin. you can email us your comments and questionnous to, call us at 915-496-1775, or tweet me @mariag-abc-7. before we get to the discussion let’s get a recap of why fred loya chose to expand in the company’s hometown. >> a spokeswoman from fred loya explains the company’s reasoning. >> fred loya really wants to invest in our community, it’s close to the heart. >> and city leaders are grateful for that decision. >> i’m very excited that they decided to continue to invest and trust the city of el paso to expand their business. >> 562 families are going have the opportunity to bring food to their table, be able to provide more for their children, for their education. which will then flow back into the city. >> the person that fred loya employs will go out and buy a tv, buy a home, buy food, whatever they are going buy and invest within our community that. dollar continues to circulate, that’s so important. >> the economic impact is projected at more than $29 million in wages and benefits. >> we thank him for the confidence and trust to continue to help them see that they can expand in our community. >> joining us now, our mayor, oscar leeser and managing director cary westin. thanks for joining us. >> thank you for inviting us. >> this is the kind of constitute that changes people’s lives essentially. >> well, it does. that’s one of the things that we’ve been trying to do, have companies that have trusted el paso to continue to invest and expand and create jobs, so they can continue, like i said in the interview, to buy a home and breakable to send their kids to school. it’s very important. one of the things you see, it’s a $29 million economic boost to our community and you’re only talking about $2800 in incentives per month. you go over the eight years it comes out to about $270,000, a $2800 investment for the taxpayers. that’s incredible if you think about it. >> if this he were to go somewhere else, not only wouldn’t we give them the incentives, but there wouldn’t be money to circulate within the community. it’s so important that we’ve been able to expand or create almost 10,000 jobs in the last 24 months. >> i can’t imagine what a shame that would be, sort of this company that started in el paso this, local man moving or expanding somewhere else, that would be sort of such a loss. so what a refreshing narrative that he’s doing in el paso. >> i think one of the their senior executives put it best. he said we want to build in the city that built us. fred loya really had an opportunity to go anywhere they wanted to in the country. they have agencies all over the country. they chose el paso. they recognized the talent of our bilingual workforce. they have been very successful here. it’s a great opportunity for el paso. >> cary, will you walk us a little bit through the process of these incentive deals? what criteria do companies have to meet to be considered for financial incentives from the city? imthis falls under our chapter 380 incentive policy. we look at capital investment and job creation. then we do have a requirement that the jobs in aggregate meet or median county wage or higher. our median county wage is $20.70. >> up 22 cents in the last couple months, and that’s important. that’s quite a bit and we do ton keep growing on that. the last report we just recently got it went up 22 cents. >> speaking of wages jobs are obviously better than no jobs. but it’s not really toes live off of $30,000 a year especially if you’re the head of a household. are we celebrating jobs that potentially keep our wages stagnant? >> no job is almost impossible to survive on unemployment. minimum wage is even tougher. what we’re doing is creating an opportunity for them to have a job. a lot of the companies we’re talking about today, prudential, schwab, general electric, they are team members that come in and help them get a college degree, the ton grow within their business. they may start at 30 but they move rapidly as they ton grow within the company. if we had done this 20 years ago we would be having this conversation. unemployment three years ago was over 9%. today just within the city it’s 4.3. so now we’re creating opportunities for people to be able to grow within a company, but also be able to — and that’s why they come here, because of the people of el paso. they want to make sure they have an education and ton grow within their company. that’s a great opportunity. >> anyone who employs someone knows the salary is not only thing you pay out to an employee. there are benefits and when you quantify that, that equal as lot more than the salary. >> it does. i think you have to look at it also in a broader context. we’re talking about $30,000 in jobs over the aggregate. if you look at fred loya and what they are done with this expansion, you know, 270 of these jobs are closer to $40,000 a year. and 30 of the positions are at $50,000 so they are doing a number of things. they are creating opportunities for different entry points within the workforce, within that particular company, entry level, mid level employees and then management. they are allowing for that upward mobility, creating more demand and more competion. we look at this as being a good thing for the community. the other thing i’ll mention is recently the brookings institute put out a report in 2014, the brookings metro monitor looked at the top 100 metropolitans areas across the country. el paso ranked in the top 25 in the country in wage growth. we’ve had 11.7% wage growth. >> unemployment is down. as-saddique the mayor also mentioned, our median county wage has grown. we’re on really a got a path for growth. >> there is a garment manufacturer who moved to el paso thinking there would be strove was trained garment workers. he’s found that’s not the case at all. isn’t that a good thing, though that, el paso is not a place that people are thinking, hey, let’s move there for cheap labor? because essentially he was moving from l.a. to escape the rising minimum wage. and so is that really a reason why we want companies to company in the case of this garment manufacturer, because they want to pay people less? >> unemployment, really, full employment is right around 5% and we’re at 4.3. we really have moved the needle when it comes to unemployment. when we talk to companies, cary westin will tell you this, we’re not looking for jobs. we can get jobs. we want a future for our citizens. if you want to create a job with no future and no opportunity to move up we’re not the right city. i think you’re starting to see that. >> right. >> you’re seeing deposition higher wages. the garment industry has changed quite a bit, too. a lot of the people in those jobs transitioned into other industries. i think part of it is that. and then the competition for some of the higher-paying jobs. >> the border alliance focuses on six main industries including defense and homeland security, life sciences, clean technology. these all require a high skilled educated workforce. el paso is lacking on that and on a vast pool of skilled workers. >> you know, we just got back from austin. we had an opportunity to meet with the governor and lieutenant governor who is head of the higher education in the state of texas. we met with him and the thing is that they are working with utep and community college to make sure we have the right curriculum as the community starts to come up. we want to graduate the right talent, the right people, you start at pre-k. it’s really important, where do you start? let’s make sure that the skilled force we’re graduating, we have proper jobs for. when do we start? we start very early. that’s one of the things we’re starting to transition to. right now they have a new program called 60-30. 60% of the student at stark college graduating by the year 2030 and that’s a program that’s going to be a very important program in the state of texas. >> it’s kind of the chicken or the egg, though. we do have thousands of graduates from utep every year, many of them, though, in some of these industries have to leave the city because there are not enough job for a lot of them to stay. but those jobs aren’t coming because those very people are leak, right? because the people who are skilled, can do those jobs, aren’t staying in el paso. >> that goes back to the answer i just gave. we’ve got have a curriculum to make sure as they graduate it meets the requirement for the workforce. understand, what we are graduating, what we’re creating and make sure those jobs are available as they come up through the school. it’s been very important to have the right curriculum for the type of degrees that we’re creating in el paso. in community college the doctors have worked really closely to make sure that becomes a reality. >> retaining talent is so important. another aspect, you have to look at what’s happening in the shifting of the demographics nationally. another part of retaining talent here, if you see what’s happening, the baby beams are leaving the workforce at an alarming rate. over the next seven years 50% of the workforce will fall in the milliennial category. between 18 and 34, the younger workforce. one of the things that el paso has been doing is putting a lot of investment in the community to enhance our overall quality of place. you look at the quality of life bond projects, different amenities. we’ve got developers in our community that are doing fantastic work on bringing in new to market retailers we haven’t had here before. we’re seeing more and more of that. all of those kind of amenities are important to a younger workforce. where the baby boomers transportcally went to where the jobs were, first priority, the milliennials gravitate to the quality of place, and the jobs are the second priority. all of these different facets or approaches to being able to create jobs and have an improving economy, we have to tackle it, everything at the same time. >> and there is a ton of research that shows milliennials do exactly what you just said. that’s why you have cities like portland who don’t have a lot of good paying jobs but trophies of young people because they have such a quality of place. let’s go to greg on the phone. what’s your comment or question? >> how can we have more jobs in el paso if we don’t have the flights to come in or leave el paso? >> you know, that’s a great question, that’s been one of our important. we have allegiant air that brought a couple flights from el paso to las vegas and el paso to san diego. delta has a new flight that is starting to fly nonis it stop to atlanta. they have three now whether they only had two. the dialogue will continue with the airlines and also american airlines has their overnight stem cell that creates a lot more flights as they bring their regional jets, the crj-900s into el paso for maintenance overnight. we’ve been able to establish that. they come in and they don’t want to leave empty. that’s created more flights. a big priority for the border plex, we’ve been able to move the needle. >> allegiant airlines added to our san diego, las vegas, this year. it’s not a linear discussion, there’s sort of multifaceted approach to economic development. >> our airport executive staff has done a great job. it’s tougher and tougher for medium and smaller hubs to get new air service. i think allegiant’s announcement, almost two announcements back-to-back is very important, they ton engage with airline executives. being able to get that air service in what’s really a shrinking market for the smaller hubs speaks to what’s happening here in el paso and it’s really important. >> we’re going to take our first commercial break. when we come back, you’re watching “abc-7 xtra,” talki about jobs in the borderland. call >> welcome back, emp. we’re talking about jobs in el paso. let’s take your emails and phone calls and tweets. this is from tony. as military downsizes, what does the city look to do to try to keep military folks from moving out? >> and i think certainly westin said it perfectly, the quality of life, quality of place we’ve create in el paso, we can’t really do anything on the inside part of fort bliss. that’s really general twit tee who’s been an incredible part of the community. everything that el paso has done has really helped us from when the downsizing and the huge investment, and also the veterans. we’ve created a jobs for our veterans. one thing in the 380 agreement we’ve done, any company that hires 15% veterans we give them an additional incentive so. we really respect our veterans and we know that it’s a great workforce that is out there. so we’ve added additional incentives for them. >> the other thing that’s really important is as a community we have to continue to be in a good partnership with improving infrastructure. that’s going to be always looked at by, if we go through another commission, one of the things i’ll point to, we were able to secure a grant through the state, a defense economic adjustment grant of $2 million that improves the infrastructure at the desalination plant. it’s doing those things to improve capacity, which means more water resources, doing things improve connectivity with our roadways like the last background, we’ve been proofing that ever since. those coupled with quality of life improvements will be a big factor in any other development of defense adjustments. >> addressing cary westin, improving the quality of life in el paso is paramount in bringing more economic impacts into our estimate how about the 30k job, city representatives to make about $30,000. >> a little less than that. >> joe tweeting at us, mayor leeser, way to go running our city, now let’s increase our public safety up to par. public safety, what do you think about — >> you know, with avenue great police chief a great fire chief and el paso has been the safest city in the country over the last five years. the numbers show the last four years, kind of changing the numbering. so we didn’t really do the numbers, but really, we’ve been the safest city over 500,000 and that’s incredible. that’s a great job it’s a our politics, fire, sheriff’s department, cpb, border patrol, working together. really, when we’re elected our number one responsibility is safety for the citizens. >> let’s go to george in the lower valley on the phone. hi, george, what’s your comment or your question? >> mayor, how are you going to be able to bring jobs into the city when we’re still fighting the fact that our health insurance and those kind of things people need to have. >> thank you very much. so george saying how will we bring jobs to the city when we’re still struggling with health insurance. i’m not sure if he meant health insurance within the city or with private companies. >> one of the things we did bring was companies that are fortune 500 companies, to the or electorate, we actually go talk to adp and show how they have provided insurance, provided the full package for new team members and new family members. we will continue to track the quality of companies as we continue to increase the quality of life for our citizens. >> and the companies have so provide and pay health insurance for their employees, as well. >> ray, tweeting, what other quality of life projects are planned for el paso? there’s a whole lot. >> i was going say, yeah. >> voters passed half a billion bond a few years ago. >> one of the things we’re doing right now that was really for look at was the three major signature projects we need to move forward with. those were some of the last projects through the end of the bond which was about a 15-year-old rollout. and right now money is the cheapest it’s going to be. we’re bringing them forward, how do we stay within the budget and stay within the ceiling of the 31%. we’ve been making sure that 100% of the citizens of el paso are required to pay taxes. not on 5% or 10%, but 100% of citizens who are willing to pay it for. we’re asking them to bring the big projects forward asking them to get a bigger bang for the buck. they are in the midst of purchases the land for the children’s human. we have the cultural music that’s going occupy that we’ve identified funding for. the all purpose arena, that may bring you only half of what you’re voting for. it’s really important to make sure it’s affordable for not 5% but 100%. >> we’re ahead of schedule and we’re also bringing forward spray parks in every district. >> that should be completed by the end of the year. >> or the early part of this next year. >> that’s an ambitious time line. >> destination retail opportunities, we were really excited to see that top killed very bigregional draw. we’re looking at destination retail opportunity as another means to enhance the overall quality of life. >> mayor, speaking of the three signature quality of life bond projects, last week on “abc- xtra” i know some viewer expressed dismay that the arena, originally when it was presented to the public, it was presented as a $17,000 seat arena, something that we don’t have here so that we could bring bigger acts, bigger concerts. but it’s looking now like it could be 12,000 feet. >> right now the way it’s looking your right, approximate about 12,000 500, in that area. if we wait 10, 15 years you from now, you’re looking at a 75 to 100,000 seat arena. why would you build that? you wouldn’t be able to bring in any additional venue, how can we bud the best for the bank for our buck, i knew you were snot in the office when the quality of life bond projects were evaluated, chosen and scoped out. but at this time it’s obvious that you’re not going to build an arena in two, three years, it’s going to take some time. i know there’s people at mobile homed onerring where was the foresight? let’s not tell people it’s going to be 18,000 seats. when you look at the numbers it’s probably going to be let than that. there are voters looking at a project like the marina and distincted because it’ll be 40% smaller. >> venture purse, they only had o & m includes in that. we need to make sure we can include that into our operating budget as the city continues to groundwater. the three major product, i don’t know. we have to stay within the ceiling so how do we do that? weave figured out how we can turn around. when we vote on this, this common week, teal start only basically approximate, so we can set it forward and make it part of our budget. there was an incredible job of crowned. i think you rember you did some interviews on it, i kept saying we need to foct. >> even though we’re not going build it for a year or two, count indict your budget so you don’t spend identity wait to. that’s the only way to do it and you go out of business, they were able to change the way they are cog it, and it took me a while but they always did a great job of bringing that forward. >> okay. we’ll take a commercial break and then we will continue the discussion henry tweeting bus pay familiar. >> all right, welcome back. let’s go to emails and tweets from henry. is the city going jump in and help the city rep, paypal, as well, who started a social media campaign to encourage paypal to come to el paso i. understand congressman o’rourke wrote a letter to the company, as well. >> we’ve had destination el paso utilize social media as a platform to let paypal now that we’re interested. >> we’re working in conjunction with the border alliance and we have made contact with the executive office. we’re just waiting for a response back. we would love to have paypal here. it really fits in the kind of industries, similar business processing for their operations center. very similar to adp and some of the other companies. we’ve got a great location, time zone, bilingual workforce, very diverse. it’s just a great fit, i think. >> i think what’s also interesting about this, they are not expanding in charlotte because of the law there that they find discory. they were talking about how el paso has really been a leader in civil rights issues and tolerance and acceptance issues. sort of a unique case with the company, and you know, enticing them to el paso. >> you’re right. and our goal is to get in front of them and talk to them and bring them to el paso. all we want is an opportunity to earn the business and show them what el paso has to offer. and find out what their needs and wants are. once we can find that out we can work really hard to earn their business. >> dennis in east central emailing, why wouldn’t fred loya want to expand his company in el paso? to fill the same positions elsewhere they would have to pay 10 to $20,000 more per year a. common practice with national companies with offices here, shame on them. is that true? do some companies pay el paso residents less for positions than they would pay more in other states and cities? >> we have lower business operating costs here, we’re about 30% lower than the national average. i wouldn’t speculate that they are paying them less. our operating costs are lower to do business here. so i think that plays into the decision, as well. >> a lot of it is cost of line and investment to be able to built the facility, that’s become when they look at is, that’s important to them, their initial investment. i think their pay around companies are pretty level when you’re talking about the same jobs and same qualifications, the pay is equal. >> lori from the west side emailing us saying, i believe mayor leeser is doing good things for the city. i genuinely believe most city representatives have good intentions. seems like every week i open the newspaper and read about another controversy at city hall. and it seems like there is a core problem with this government body. is that the case? >> and you know, and that’s a great question because have you eight different representatives and they all do a great job. they were elected by their sit went and they represent eight different districts. they have a very strong passion. you’re there every today and you see it. it’s my job to make sure all their passions come to what’s best for the community. at the end of the day they all want something, and how can we afford it for the whole city. they work hard and care a lot about their city or they wouldn’t be in public office. a lot of times they are under the microscope a lot and they care a lot. sometimes they get a little heated but that’s the — more of i think that they want to do a good thing for the people who put them in office. >> the confrontation or lively discussions at city hall, we might also be referring to some of the issues that have surfaced over the last year, the investigations, the ethics complaints into the city manager, the former city rell romero. the “times” last week publish a story raising questions about city manager tommy gonzalez’ relationship with trees in a nichols. a lot of editorials the times has done, saying the city’s losing focus, really being critical of the city council. and i think there are some people in the community who feel that the city cannot moored forward until it’s deals with these issues some way. >> and that’s kind of a shame. we do a lot of great things. i’ve said this to you and everyone. we do 30 great things at city council. we vote on some things that are huge for the taxpayer but they never get to see that. what is the media reporting? the controversial, when they go after each other. >> no, not all the time. >> i know but that’s really what they are seeing and it’s important. i always say very few people watch city council meetings. how do they get informed by the media. i want to you report the news and what’s going on. it’s really important that we do show a lot of the good things we’re doing. that’s what we’re doing today and i thank you it for. but you know, the editorials said about the city, we’re working really hard to — why do a lot of people not want to run for public office? because you know, what, people get insulted a lot and you have to have very thick skin. someone told me, i couldn’t believe the stultss and everything going on. if you can’t take the heat get out of the isn’t. they see how people are being disrespected. it’s kind of tough, i’ll be response, i can handle it because i know who i am. >> you’re right, we earned it, no ifs, ands or buts about it, the city has taken some bashing. report really the great things that we’re doing and the great things going on. el paso is really a growing community with a lot to gain. so sometimes you wonder, they go well, it’s the pay why people don’t want to run for office. no, it’s the insults and they know that. they walk up and go, you’re very successful, why would you have put yourself out there? the answer is because i care and i want to make sure the city moves forward. >> i’ve mentioned this to city representatives before. do you take a public beating when you’re in office. there is no doubt about it. i — you know, i’m — >> that sellings media and sells newspapers. there’s a lot of great things we do. >> there are also journalist whose care about this city, who — who genuinely love the city, who care about this city. it’s not like they are making stuff up or just have a personal agenda to make somebody look bad, or at least not that i personally know. but you know, like — it’s not like people are making this stuff up. >> that’s what i’m saying. but we do 30 great things. i said in that city council the other day. 30 great things and they blow up at each other. what do you lead with in the media? the blow up. i didn’t see in the news until three days later how we’re refinancing and saving $14 million in the refinance of the city budget. the first thing was ms. lamone and i having a confrontation. i had someone call me up and they were watching the 5:00 news. watch with representative limon and the mayor have a confrontation. i couldn’t wait until 6:00, i wanted to see it. we didn’t talk about the $14 million we saved the taxpayers. tomorrow we talk about the refinancing of the ballpark which i put on the agenda two months ago that’s going to save probably $7 million. i hope it’s reported. it’s important that the citizen have the ability and opportunity to see that. >> speaking of the ballpark, over the weekend a couple days ago form city manager joins wilson submitted answers to questions proposed by the ethics investigator ross fisher about the financing of the ballpark saying you know, that no city rep instructed her to delay for the may 2013 election. but that they only raised concerns and that the decision to delay was ultimately up to her. i guess the main question here is, why are there still questions? why do city reps from that time, every city rep whom i’ve spoken to at the time say she never had a conversation with her, never raised concerns about the timing of the ballpark bond. and how come she doesn’t say which city reps and what setting. was there a meeting? was there not a meeting? was it sort of a cash reference? these are important questions. depending on the answer there could be a violation of the texas open meetings act. >> and you’re still correct. citizens deserve to know and it’s very important that we get an answer for the stiff el paso. that’s why it’s part of the ongoing investigation to answer every question you had. you had about 10 right away and every one of them was great. >> were you satisfied with her responses or are you still thinking — >> the letter came in about 5:00 on friday. i wanted to sit down and kind of go over it and discuss and see what the city will be doing next. >> mayor, thank you so much for coming. >> thank you. >> i appreciate your accessibility. >> thank you so much. and i will be there tomorrow. >> we’ve got to be keeping the media accountable, as well. >> i appreciate the opportunity today. so many great things going on for you to give us

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