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El Paso mayor and Chamber of Commerce call for regional military partnerships

Andres Rodriguez
El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser was in Washington D.C. For the Association of the U.S Army expo, where he met with military contractors.

WASHINGTON– Regional military partnerships were at the top of the agenda for El Paso business and city government officials as they visited the nation’s capital this week.

Members of the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce attended the Association of the United States Army annual meeting and exposition and met with staff members in the offices of senators representatives to call for regional military partnerships and support.

In a meeting with the staffs of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Reps. Steve Pearce, R-N.M.; Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, and Pete Gallego, D-Texas, chamber officials said Texas and New Mexico offer the best bang for the buck in military training.

Rick Glancey, the chamber’s Armed Forces division chair, said at the Tuesday roundtable discussion that the region’s military bases, including Fort Bliss in El Paso and the Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, are very attractive in terms of cost efficiencies.

“It makes no sense to have certain training elements more than 300 miles away from Fort Bliss when it could actually be done there and evaluated there,” Glancey said.

He referred to the 2009 move of an artillery group from Fort Bliss to Fort Sill in Lawton, Okla.

The chamber called for cooperation between the local and state representatives to address the region’s military in Las Cruces and Alamogordo, N.M., and El Paso, which they said are interconnected.

“We take the view that if something happens in White Sands, it negatively affects Fort Bliss. Something happens to Air Force Space, it impacts Fort Bliss. The reverse is true at the other installations,” Richard E. Dayoub, the chamber’s president and CEO, said.

The chamber is part of the Alliance for Regional Military Support, made up of regional government and chambers that seeks to improve communication among the cities of El Paso, Alamogordo and Las Cruces on military issues. They said a similar collaboration among members of the House and Senate from the two states would serve the region’s military well.

El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser made a similar visit to the AUSA expo and met with military contractors, El Paso representatives and a White House official. This marked Leeser’s first D.C. trip as mayor of El Paso. He took office over the summer.

“We came to talk to companies that are doing business in our city, have footprints in our city and talk to them and thank them for doing business with us,” Leeser said of his four-day stay, “but also see how we can help them grow their companies and maybe have a bigger investment in our city.”

Leeser said he met with Lockheed Martin, Boeing, BAE and Honeywell – all military contractors with operations in El Paso.

The visit follows in Leeser’s push to recruit and maintain businesses in El Paso, which he cited as one of his top goals during his first 100 days in office. Earlier in the year, Boeing announced it would cut El Paso factory operations in half by the end of 2014.

Leeser said speaking to company officials, putting a face to a name, made a difference.

“It helped us understand their position in our city and how we can grow further our relationship,” Leeser said. “The important part is to continue the dialogue and continue to follow through to make sure that this becomes a reality of continuing to work together.”

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El Paso mayor and Chamber of Commerce call for regional military partnerships