El Paso tops Newsweek’s List of “Can-do Capitals,” but can it really do?

(Raymundo Aguirre/Borderzine.com)

El Paso and Ciudad Juárez blend as just one city. (Raymundo Aguirre/Borderzine.com)

(Raymundo Aguirre/Borderzine.com)

El Paso, Texas. (Raymundo Aguirre/Borderzine.com)

EL PASO – It’s a tale of one city with three different stories.

There are three contrasting viewpoints on the placement of El Paso at the top the list of “Can-do Capitals” published by Newsweek Magazine last month.

Based on data from the federal government and Moody’s (an economic research company), the border city was named America’s Can-do capital, first on a list of 200 U.S. cities.

The recent Moody’s study rated the cities in four different  categories –sustainability, transportation & infrastructure, business development and livability. Each index was graded on a scale of 0-25 points, with all four aspects totaling 100 points.

After being recognized as the city that made the most progress improving its quality of life in recent years, El Paso still needs to work on its livability and its business development, according to the study.

The Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce considered the score given by the magazine as inadequate. “For me, we should have scored a 25” in business development said President and CEO Richard Dayoub. He said that “people in El Paso have the can-do attitude. The crisis in Ciudad Juárez has continued to help the economy of El Paso to keep growing.”

Dayoub said that people here do well by setting differences aside and that has been the key factor in getting this award. It is time to build on this success to continue improving as a city, he said. “People get the wrong image, and think that all the problems in Juárez have to do with El Paso.”

The El Paso Chamber of Commerce disagrees with the 11.15 score given to the city based on business development and argues that the city offers more opportunities to residents than it did a decade ago.

The second problem that the city of El Paso needs to resolve is how to improve its livability. According to this study the border city also needs to work on the quality of life aspect. After being given 18.45 points out of 25 this aspect of the study ranks as the second worst out of the four after the business development number.

“El Paso has relatively lower rates of access to health care and relatively less educated adults than nearly all other large U.S. cities.” said Tim Collins Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Texas at El Paso. Collins is a member of the Department of Sociology & Anthropology at the University where he has conducted research on the different aspects that surround the livability index.

He said that the city of El Paso was given that score because it has shown a significant increase in the ease of access to health, but considers El Paso to be far behind other larger U.S. cities.

Collins added that, “The socioeconomic status of El Pasoans has been buffered in the midst of the ‘great recession,’” but he said that there are problems that continue to negatively affect El Paso, such as the poor socioeconomic status and the number of adults with minimal education.

“In other words, people in El Paso may be faring better than those in other U.S. cities during this period of economic decline, even though El Pasoans were generally worse off, socioeconomically speaking, before the recession began,” said Collins.

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