July News Update From David Jerome, President & CEO of the El Paso Chamber
As I reflect on this year so far, it is apparent that the pace of change is accelerating. And as fast as I think business is changing, it’s moving even faster still. Many of you watched the Virgin Galactic launch this past weekend, from up the road at Spaceport America. I have always found space exploration fascinating, and the success of last weekend’s launch was significant for the exploration value and for a business lesson as well. The launch represents a tectonic shift in how space travel proceeds from this point forward and every element of the Virgin Galactic’s effort and similar efforts by Blue Origin, down the road in Van Horn, will require an enormous economy, some of which is barely being developed. But all of it will be innovative, it will be expansive, and it will be changing rapidly.
The Pandemic fueled rapid change across a broad spectrum of our economy as well. For example, all things digital are only going to accelerate. About 25% of work is flexible enough to be done from home, but there is an increasing expectation that more digital, flexible work will expand. This is why the Chamber is working with the City of El Paso and UTEP to expand broadband to every corner of our community. Digital is also pushing rapid increases in the e-commerce sector. We are seeing growth in delivery, transportation, and warehouse jobs, which is very good for El Paso and the local economy.
This rapid pace of change affects how we educate our community and even provide healthcare. Think about the growth in telemedicine; from being a less desirable channel between patient and provider to being a main artery during the Pandemic. Learning how to not just manage change, but also embrace its opportunity is what the Chamber does for businesses. And we do it best in collaboration with our partners.
The velocity of change also means that we must rethink our approach to the environment. Climate change is an existential risk, but it is also an opportunity for innovation and business growth. The numbers are notable, the President is hoping to include $75 billion in the infrastructure bill for climate change related innovation. The impetus for this change flows from the need for businesses need to work with all stakeholders. Globally, consumers and employees, for example, will not trade with a company if they are dissatisfied with its environmental or social record. And governments are joining in by increasingly pushing legislation to ensure that business is acting.
Value chains are rapidly shifting to account for resilience, beyond the usual conformance, delivery, and price concerns. El Paso has real advantages here, it’s both resilient and the best value in the United States assessed by several markers. Business cannot change its value chain immediately, but this will shift in the next 5 to 10 years.
Not only is business changing rapidly post COVID, but so is our community. We are the youngest city in the USA for our size, we are bilingual and located next to the United States’ number one trading partner. We are the future. I say this acknowledging that our heritage is important. But El Paso should not be a museum to our former selves. Let’s capture all the opportunities that this post pandemic pace of change offers and invest in ourselves as well. Our infrastructure and quality of life investments pay back hugely over time. Our ballpark and newly opened water parks are but two examples. Let’s get our Arena done and I-10 finished off with a world class deck park.
We can do better than just cope with change, we can manage it and ensure El Paso takes advantage of its many opportunities. Like our new era in space exploration, the challenge can be our mantle, driving all of us across business sectors to reach for the stars, literally and figuratively. We owe it to ourselves and the Chamber is here to work with you to get it done.