EL PASO — The city of El Paso is home to hundreds of thousands of people, and its economy is smaller compared to other cities in Texas such as San Antonio and Dallas.
University of Texas at El Paso Economics professor Tom Fullerton believes that El Paso has a much smaller economy compared to Houston or Dallas because, “In part that’s simply because population base here is a lot smaller,” he said.
Fullerton believes that a larger economy is not an impossible goal for El Paso. “El Paso has very good economic potential. It has a young demographic here it has a labor force that’s ready, willing and available for working. What needs to be done however is to increase investment in infrastructure and convince young people to stay in school.”
As part of that mission to spark the economy of El Paso, Jorge Vazquez, is trying to bring in more entertainment to the city. “We have to really be aggressive and really have to be telling them hey, we’re here, we exist,” the interim Special Events Coordinator at UTEP said.
“We impact the entire city from the entire region when we do a show. The hotels, motels, they are impacted, as well as the restaurants in the area. They feel the flow of new business,” when big acts are brought to the city, he said. Vazquez believes El Paso is different from what people commonly believe.
“As far as the economy, some people think we’re a poor economy, but I think we’re a smart economy, because when it comes to the hot ticket, we spend money. We don’t care if we’re not going to make a car payment. We save our money for entertainment purposes.”
Despite Vazquez trying to bring entertainment to the Sun City, El Paso Community College student, Alida Jones feels as if other cities have events El Paso cannot compete with.
“You have downtown, you have the museums, but that’s nothing compared to the [Houston’s] Astrodome,” she said. She does realize El Paso is attempting to grow. “I noticed El Paso is trying to build more restaurants and more entertainment stuff around here.”
Entertainment wise, Jones believes El Paso lacks options. She feels as if her sole option is go to the movies, but she sometimes cannot afford to do that. “The fact is if you go to the movies it’s like $20 now. The candy’s $7 for a bag of skittles, drinks are $6 or $5.
With big-city events and movie prices impacting the borderland, El Paso’s growth is also affecting the schools. Paso Del Norte principal, Jeanette Williams said, “we are overgrown about twenty to thirty kids a year. Right now, we are looking at about twenty students who will be sent elsewhere for the coming school year.”
“A lot of it is due to a heavy military population. Some of the students live right across the street and that’s very hard to explain to a parent. It’s not received very well.”
From more restaurants, to overpopulated schools, to more events being brought to the city, El Paso is experiencing major changes.
UTEP graduate student, Jesus Valles believes El Paso has something very unique. “If I told someone to come here, I don’t think I would tell them to come here for a vacation. I think I would tell them to come live here, because I think that the most attractive things about El Paso, you don’t end up discovering until you are a member of the community.
“I think its greatest resources are its people.”