EL PASO, Texas-- The U.S.-Mexico border may still be closed for all non-essential travel with Mexico, but with the reopening date quickly approaching it's no longer just business leaders anxious to welcome the Mexican consumer.
"The city of El Paso is ready, to again reduce those wait times help provide additional traffic control continue working on our project to improve the grid system all of our projects and our funding comes from the bridge users," David Coronado, the City of El Paso's Managing Director for International Bridges and Economic Development, said.
The travel restrictions between the U.S. and Mexico has left downtown El Paso businesses looking like the shell of what they once were. Thousands of business owners and workers forced to find alternative streams of income during the 18-month shutdown.
"I know for a fact during the pandemic shutdown 30% of all businesses closed 45 businesses in downtown El Paso closed due to border restrictions those are big numbers," Cindy Ramos-Davidson, the CEO of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said.
Ramos-Davidson told ABC-7 that the restaurant and service industry was the hardest hit during the border restrictions.
"We are being that anywhere from 15 to 30% of retail sales were attributed to Mexican citizens crossing and many downtown stores attribute 80% of sales to downtown citizens," Ramos-Davidson said.
The pandemic border restrictions not only served to put a dent in the downtown economy, but the U.S. as a whole. Mexican buying power has always brought a boost to Borderland communities and the country in years past.
"Annual trade with Mexico is $6.71 billion and visitors from Juarez account for $1.3 billion in retail trade," Ramos-Davidson said.
While border restrictions being lifted may be a good thing for the downtown economy and the El Paso economy as a whole, Coronado told ABC-7 that the resources for infrastructure need to be in place when those restrictions lift.
"We do expect to see a surge in crossings overnight and so it is really critical for us, for the cit,y for CBP, for El Paso police, for the city of Juarez, for all of us to work together and get ready for that surge in crossing," Coronado said.