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May NEWS UPDATE FROM STEPHEN IAN VOGLEWEDE, INTERIM PRESIDENT & CEO OF THE EL PASO CHAMBER
May NEWS UPDATE FROM STEPHEN IAN VOGLEWEDE, INTERIM PRESIDENT & CEO OF THE EL PASO CHAMBER

May is now behind us and we’re entering summertime in El Paso. I’ve always been a fan of the month of May. While the heat and abundant sunshine is enjoyable for most, including myself, it also serves as a reminder that our region has enormous opportunities becoming a global leader in sustainability. The Chamber recognizes the important economic and environmental role our community can play in the energy transition and the Chamber has a unique position to develop collaborations to ensure we can meaningfully impact the climate change challenge.

In 2019, we had the opportunity to work with a UK-based think tank, Future Agenda, to zero in on 10 areas the El Paso region needs to develop strategies around to become a more globally competitive city by 2030. One area included sustainability and our ability to leverage the development of a corporate social responsibility ethos or shared value as a core of business strategy. This month, we finalized a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with General Motors solidifying our sustainability efforts in the region. Along with GM, El Paso Electric, the City of El Paso and UTEP as our partners, we focused on the rapid electrification of El Paso. Our goal is the implementation of electric vehicle charging stations, analysis of the carbon footprint of local manufacturers, and development of solar and EV sustainable microgrids, particularly at the El Paso International Airport.

While this energy transition is exciting, there is great concern that it will leave many behind, perpetuating poverty and economic exclusion. The argument is that some will not get the economic benefits that will come with EVs and will live in less healthy neighborhoods. Therefore, it is important we overlay our initiative with an equity and inclusion driven strategy. Earlier this month, the Chamber, along with Mission Driven Energy, met with various key stakeholders in the community to create an ambitious strategy around electrification. In line with these efforts and after a 4-year hiatus, we are excited to plan our upcoming Intercity Visit to Detroit in August 2022. Headquartered in Detroit, meetings with GM executives will allow us to further our sustainability efforts while allowing us the opportunity to meet with City of Detroit leaders who focus on initiatives parallel to ours such as transportation, higher education, and upskilling.

Our electrification initiative is still at the beginning stages, but we have made great strides thus far and are not turning back. We strongly believe this is an area where El Paso can serve as a national example and leader on the global stage. If you are interested in being a part of this initiative, reach out! We will be hosting another set of stakeholder meetings in July. We hope you are as excited as we are.