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Conference focuses on bringing new businesses to El Paso

By: Stacey Welsh

EL PASO, Texas -- El Paso is trying to bring in businesses the borderland hasn't seen before, and city officials said networking opportunities at the annual West Texas Idea Exchange conference could help.

The International Council of Shopping Centers sponsored the conference, and El Paso's economic development department said about 70 developers and real estate representatives from out of town attended to see what El Paso has to offer.

"We're about 2.3 million people. We definitely have more than 100,000 college students. We're a great place to raise a family, a great place to live and a great place to work," El Paso Redevelopment Manager Jessica Herrera said.

Herrera said developments like the new Fountains at Farah are helping attract new retailers to the area.

"A lot of the pool that you get is not only from Texas, but also New Mexico and Mexico. We're really a regional destination," Herrera said.

The city and developers attending the conference said the areas of El Paso seeing the most new development are the far east and far west sides. Downtown and northeast El Paso are also seeing development of blighted areas, and the city said that's important to revitalize those parts of town.

Mimco, Inc. President Bob Ayoub said his company is working on new developments and continuing to renovate older shopping centers. He said Mimco has revitalized areas in the Lower Valley and Northeast.

Ayoub also said Mimco is working on new retail development near Darrington and Eastlake, in east El Paso County, and near Artcraft and Interstate 10, on the west side.

"We're really responding to the residential growth. We've got big residential growth on the east and west side. That's where we're focusing our development of new retail space," Ayoub said.

River Oaks Properties said it is also focusing on new retail development on the far east and far west sides of El Paso. While River Oaks also renovates buildings for new tenants, the developer has new buildings in far east El Paso.

"We're working on multiple projects surrounding our existing Home Depot and JC Penney development on Montwood and Joe Battle," River Oaks Properties President Adam Frank said.

River Oaks is also leasing properties on North Zaragoza Road. Frank said all of this development is expected to benefit the area.

"Every 1,000 square feet of retail developed creates three jobs. We have a significant amount of development and construction, and it will bring a large job base to the city," Frank said.

Frank said far east side residents could expect new stores to open in the next six months to a year.

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