Woody Hunt on Collaboration in El Paso
Last week, Woody Hunt—noted El Paso businessman and philanthropist—spoke to the EPC Leadership El Paso (LEP) class about regional collaboration and economic development in El Paso.
Hunt detailed our region’s history of economic development beginning in the early 1990s with an emphasis on how different development groups were formed and the impact they had on strategic planning in the Paso del Norte region. Hunt reminded the LEP class that El Pasoans have held a number of powerful positions at the state level including roles in the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Board of Regents for the UT System, the Board of Regents for the Texas Tech University System, and the governance unit for the Texas Department of Transportation.
Hunt’s presentation had two main takeaways. First, that collaboration requires multiple tiers of planning. And second, the short term to engage or stand up a collaborative venture and the mid to long term to identify impact and sustainability. In the case of El Paso, Hunt emphasized the importance of overcoming geopolitical boundaries. As we often hear, El Paso sits at the intersection three states and two countries but is, at the end of the day, one region. Hunt argued that we must prioritize regional perspectives that are collaborative in nature in order to avoid the trap of false competition between neighboring states. Not only does this help create a more cohesive regional strategy, it also helps reduce the risk of having overlapping efforts that can cancel each other out. Hunt in particular emphasized the collaborative nature of policy, particularly the need to have non-governmental entities (like EPC) forge relationships between government and private partners.
Finally, Hunt shared with the LEP class his desire to positively impact education in the region. His underlying message was that education increases business competitiveness in turn increasing opportunities that retain high talent in the region, ultimately fueling stronger collaborative efforts.