Leaders plan region’s economic future at UTEP

University of Texas at El Paso

The seeds of a collaborative plan for the economic development of the Paso del Norte region were planted during UTEP Opportunity Days at the University of Texas at El Paso.

About 100 leaders from the fields of business, education, nonprofits and government shared ideas for a model that will blend accessibility to college, completion of a marketable degree and the opportunity to find a high-end job in the El Paso area during the event on Wednesday at UTEP’s Tomás Rivera Conference Center.

The University organized this summit as one of 12 higher education partners of Opportunity Nation, a national initiative to develop strategies that will revitalize social mobility and stimulate economic opportunities.

“Your presence reflects the commitment that you have already made to actively engage in the economic development, prosperity and improved quality of life of the Paso del Norte region,” said UTEP President Diana Natalicio, who served as an event co-host with Woody Hunt, chairman and CEO of Hunt Companies Inc.

During the day, participants heard equal parts personal testimonials about the role education played in the successful lives of UTEP alumni, and demographic numbers and other facts about the impact of education on the nation’s socioeconomic future.

Steve Murdock, Ph.D., the Allyn R. and Gladys M. Cline Professor of Sociology at Rice University, shared demographic information about the projected growth in Hispanic population – 62 percent nationally by 2050 – and the need for minority groups to become better educated if the nation is to grow its economy.

Those involved offered ideas that will be condensed and honed through 2015 by the El Paso Collaborative for Academic Excellence, a collection of leaders from area school districts, institutions of higher education, and local businesses and community organizations.

“We want to take better advantage of what is available to us and make it work for us,” said Armando Aguirre, Ed.D., assistant provost and collaborative leader.

Bob Cook, president and CEO of the El Paso Regional Economic Development Corp., was among the many who shared a positive comment as he left the event.

“I think when we look back on this day three, five, 10 years from now, what happened today will be considered historic,” he said.



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