Border regions across Texas have relied on trade with Mexico heavily for several decades. Through international trade alone, South Texas ports of entry total $500 in billion in goods and provide more than 450,000 jobs in Texas.
Yet, with federal budget cuts and an unprecedented influx of traffic through international ports of entry, the South Texas region has suffered significant losses. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) agency has endured slashes in funding that have resulted in massive delays, understaffed facilities, and even outdated infrastructure. The regional economy loses about $116 million in commerce and over 26,000 jobs because of those delays.
In light of these detrimental threats to local economies, ports of entry across the Texas border region joined forces to form a super group that will tackle the ongoing issues in international trade. They call themselves the South Texas Assets Consortium.
The cities included in the cohort include, but are not limited to Pharr, McAllen, Rio Grande City, Laredo, and Cameron County. Together, the ports of entry submitted a request for public-private partnerships with CBP that would allow state and local governments to step in when the federal government cannot provide sufficient funding.
Earlier this month, CPB chose the South Texas Consortium as one of the only five pilot programs across the country to benefit from public-private partnerships. Aside from the regional South Texas area, El Paso, Dallas, and Houston were chosen to participate in the pilot program. Only one area outside of Texas was selected: Miami, Florida.
Local and state governments as well as private entities that are part of the partnership will be able to reimburse CBP for additional staffing and services along border regions. Under this new funding method, the CPB can restructure security procedures and alleviate the usually congested flow of traffic at the bridges. Most importantly, the program will allow the selected areas to test new methods that will maximize efficiency and minimize costly delays. Negotiations for the full strategic plan and timeline of the pilot program are currently underway with the CBP and are expected to conclude at the end of this year.
City officials are looking forward to the potential benefits this new, developing relationship between the South Texas Consortium and the CPB could provide to strengthen the local economy.
Change is coming to ports of entry on the South Texas Border. Call the Pharr EDC to learn about new developments at the Pharr produce district at 956.402.4EDC.