Friday, October 03, 2008

“We don’t have the luxury of waiting for someone else..."

Ports-to-Plains conference ends today


By Karen Gleason
Del Rio News-Herald
Copyright 2008

The 11th Annual Ports-to-Plains Conference wraps up today with a tour of several maquiladora operations across the border in Ciudad Acuña, Coah., Mexico.

Following a breakfast at the Del Rio Civic Center hosted by the Del Rio Chamber of Commerce and a welcome from Del Rio Mayor Efrain Valdez, Sid Cauthorn, chairman of the Ports-to-Plains Coalition, addressed the group.

Cauthorn said his involvement with Ports-to-Plains began 11 years ago when he served as the economic development director for the Del Rio Chamber of Commerce and he attended a meeting in Lubbock to discuss the construction of a four-lane divided highway between international ports of entry from Mexico to Canada.

“Knowing a little bit of history about Marco Polo and the importance of trade corridors, I recognized early on that my involvement in Ports-to-Plains was going to be among the most important things that I could do in my community, in my home town, to further opportunities for economic prosperity,” Cauthorn told the group.

“Now, 11 years later, I’m more convinced than ever that Ports-to-Plains is vital to the economic interests of all the members along our corridor,” Cauthorn added.

Cauthorn said he often wondered what Del Rio and Acuña would be like today if the area’s leaders of 45 years ago “had aggressively sought to bring Interstate 10” through Del Rio.

“This generation of people from along our corridor has the opportunity for a second chance, and it’s a second chance that we must take advantage of,” Cauthorn urged.

He said the Del Rio conference would focus on how Ports-to-Plains can create jobs and put “put dollars in you pocket.”

“We’ve talked for a number of years about what Ports-to-Plains can do as far as highways. We want to talk to you at this conference about what Ports-to-Plains can do to put dollars in your pockets and in the pockets of your citizens,” Cauthorn said.

Cauthorn previewed the remainder of the conference events by saying that the Del Rio conference would showcase Del Rio’s industrial and warehousing base.

“We want to brag a little bit about what we do here,” Cauthorn said. “Here in Del Rio and in Acuna, we manufacture giant dump trucks, we manufacture campaign buttons, we manufacture wire harnesses, we manufacture seat belts, we manufacture cotton balls and much more and we do so with unmatched quality and unmatched speed.”

Today’s event schedule for the conference, which includes a discussion of doing business in Mexico, also includes tours of several major maquiladora – or twin plant – operations across the border.

Cauthorn also urged participants in the conference to be diligent in working toward the vision of Ports-to-Plains, a trade corridor stretching from the Mexico border north through Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and New Mexico.

“We don’t have the luxury of waiting for someone else to do,” Cauthorn said. “We must be diligent and we must be dedicated to what it is we’re working on, because we know that one day. . .our national leadership and our state leadership will understand how important transportation is to the economic well-being at the local and the regional and the state level.”

“We know that one day our national and our state leadership will understand what Marco Polo did 700 years ago and what President Eisenhower did 50 years ago and what New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson understands today: Transportation infrastructure is critical – critical – to the national, state and regional economic prosperity.”

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