b'70 ELP LANDSIDE DEVELOPMENTFrom NAFTA to Build Back BetterA break came in 2021, when President Bidens American El Pasos recent economic struggles can largely be traced to theRescue Plan introduced the Build Back Better Regional implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, orChallenge. Administered through the U.S. Department of NAFTA, nearly 30 years ago. Many manufacturers outsourcedCommerces Economic Development Administration, the operations to Mexico, where labor costs are a fraction of thoseprogram set out to award a collective $1 billion to numerous in the United States. According to U.S. Labor Department data,regional coalitions to help transform their respective economies El Paso lost 29,000 manufacturing jobs from NAFTAs 1994through growth in select industry sectors. debut through the end of 2016.The city of El Paso, which owns and operates ELP, We were never able to rebuild our manufacturing capability,submitted its Build Back Better application through the West Choudhuri laments. The result is we have jobs in theTexas Aerospace and Defense Manufacturing Coalition, whose community that barely pay minimum wage, and that is a long- other member entities include El Paso County, Workforce term drag on our local economy. Solutions Borderplex, the El Paso Chamber and the Rio Grande Council of Governments. In late 2022, the Economic Several years ago, Choudhuri and other local leadersDevelopment Administration awarded the coalition $40 million sought help from Washington, D.C. to reset El Pasos fortunesin funding. It was one of only 21 winners selected from a pool using the advanced research field to create better-paying jobof nearly 530 applicants.opportunities closer to home. They worked closely with Rep. Veronica Escobar, a Democrat who serves Texas 16th U.S.Almost two-thirds of those federal funds (about $25 million) Congressional District and is a member of the House Armedwill go toward development at ELP to support aerospace and Services Committee. defense manufacturing. In a September 2022 press release, Rep. Escobar called the award an exciting and transformative March | April 2023AirportImprovement.com'