On Tuesday afternoon, representatives from El Paso's business community came out in support of the three propositions that make up the 2012 Quality-of-Life bond issues, on the ballot Nov. 6.
More than 20 business leaders along with leadership from local business organizations including the El Paso Greater Chamber of Commerce, the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Regional Economic Development Corporation, the El Paso Downtown Management District and the Central Business Association, came out in support of the bond.
"We are here today because we have had overwhelming support from the business community throughout the campaign for Propositions 1, 2 and 3 of the quality-of-life bond issues," said Tripper Goodman, Chairman of the El Paso Tomorrow Political Action Committee. "I'm not just talking about big business. I am talking about small, local businesses - retail and restaurants El Pasoans recognize including Sotoa Gallery, Kipp's Cheesesteak, Crave, Gino's Pizza, The Greenery, Spira and Mattress Firm, and more, all represented by their ownership here today. We also have construction groups, manufacturers, IT providers, real estate groups and others present to show their support."
"In addition to passing resolutions in support of the three quality-of-life bond propositions, the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce further indicated our support for these initiatives by sponsoring our first-ever Intercity Visit to Oklahoma City in September," said Richard Dayoub, President of the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce. "The lessons learned from Oklahoma City show that improvements to the quality of life amenities directly related to increased economic development. It is because of the investments they made that we hear time and again about their City's phenomenal success. El Paso will continue to lag behind other cities in our region in our efforts to recruit and retain industry unless we invest in our community's quality-of-life."
Dan Longoria, Vice President of Mattress Firm and a member of the Board of Directors of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce spoke of survey results indicating majority support of their membership for all three bond propositions. "In keeping with the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's mission to be a voice and representative of our members, we conducted a survey to involve and gain input from our membership base on the 2012 Quality of Life Bond Propositions and the Downtown Baseball Stadium. Our member businesses' responses indicate that 74.3 percent are in favor of some element of the proposed Citywide improvements; 60 percent indicate that passing the Quality of Life Bond issues will have an important impact on their businesses; and 70.4 percent said they will vote to increase the Hotel Occupancy Tax in order to fund the baseball stadium."
TJ Karam, Partner in the urban living development, the El Paso Project, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Downtown Management District spoke in favor of the impact the projects in the bond issues wouldhave on downtown revitalization. "Picture it - you head to brunch at a café near Mills Plaza, then walk over with the kids to visit the Children's Museum or the Interactive Digital Wall at the History Museum. Then we can head to a ballgame as a family, or grandma can take the kids home so mom and dad can catch a great concert and a late dinner at Union Plaza. All of that is at our fingertips."
"As far as my personal reasons for supporting the bonds, I am an entrepreneur. I think there are lots of people like me in El Paso that have new and different business concepts, but unfortunately they are attracted to other cities like Austin and Dallas and LA, where they already have awesome downtowns with endless options of things to do," said Carlo Mendo, owner of the downtown gallery Loftlight Studio and member of the Board of Directors of the Central Business Association. "Let's keep our talent here - let's foster new ideas and concepts and show the world what El Paso can be and why we are like no other city."
Tanya Loya, owner of far Eastside eatery Gino's Pizza added, "I think there is a perception that these bond initiatives will mostly benefit businesses and residents on the Westside or around the downtown area. As anEastside business owner, I want to encourage people to see the bigger picture. The biggest recreation investment will be in a new 90 acre park at Hueco that will have all kinds of amenities for people to enjoy, including a recreation andsenior center, a competition swim facility, a dog park, a skate park, playgrounds and more. And Proposition 2 includes projects like the Children's Museum that all residents get to enjoy."
Raymond Palacios, Owner of the Bravo Car Dealerships, spoke to providing job opportunities for El Paso's future business leaders, "In order for El Paso to foster our future entrepreneurs and business leaders, we need to make sure there are plenty of work opportunities here, where they can learn, build experience, and try new things. As it stands now, we do not have enough job opportunities awaiting the students graduating from UTEP and El Paso Community College, or even El Paso natives who went away to school and would want to come back. A better quality-of-life means business owners taking another look at El Paso, considering much more seriously making investmentshere because we've invested in ourselves."
Sandra Almanzan, Director, National Service Center for Fannie Mae and member of the Board of Directors of the Downtown Management District, spoke to the connection between quality-of-life and business growth. "Before quality of life can have an impact on how we work, these projects have to improve how we live. At their core, businesses are established and run by people. People need their leisure and entertainment opportunities, as do their families. Stripping away our roles as business leaders, we are all standing here as El Pasoans,looking for our City to offer our children, our patrons and us a better lifestyle. And that will be good for business."
The following individuals participated in the news conference in support of the bond issues representing various organizations, industries, and areas of town:
-Richard Dayoub, President, Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce
-Dan Longoria, Board Member, El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce/ Vice President, Mattress Firm
-TJ Karam, Board Member, Downtown Management District/ Partner, The El Paso Project
-Carlos Mendoza, Board Member, Central Business Association/ Owner, Loft Light Studio
-Tanya Loya, Owner, Gino's Pizza
-Raymond Palacios, Owner, Bravo Car Dealerships
-Sandra Almanzan, Board Member, Downtown Management District/ Director, National Service Center for Fannie Mae
-Scott Adkins, Executive Vice President, Currey Adkins
-Raul Arispe, Owner, Tosca Restaurant
-Bob Ayoub, President, Board of Directors, El Paso Downtown Management District
-Carmen Byers, Owner, Byers Construction
-Leroy Candelaria, Owner, Desert Imaging
-Bob Cook, President, REDCo
-John Cordova, Vice President, Raba-Kistner Consultants
-Ricardo Fernandez, Owner, The Station and Sotoa Gallery
-Rodrigo Fernandez, Chief Financial Officer, Transtelco
Paul Gilcrease, President, El Paso Land and Building, Inc.
-Octavio Gomez, Owner, The Garden, Crave, 1914, The Mix
-Kupper Gray, Owner, Kipp's Cheesesteak
-Mark Heins, Owner, The Greenery and Crust
-Keeli Jernigan, CEO & President, Trans-Expedite Inc.
-Matt Keats, Owner, Keats Southwest Manufacturing Co.
-Andy Krafsur, CEO, Spira
-Elizabeth Leal, Future Co. Realtors
-Tripper Goodman, Chair, El Paso TomorrowPolitical Action Committee