"In order to find success in this overall effort (economic development), we of course must go far beyond just grants from Washington. They are important if they are used correctly, but the real success will come when the business leaders, the civic leaders, the families of this area come together, as you’re doing, and create the basis for sustained progress," Gore said.
Roland Arriola, director of UT Pan American’s Office of Center Operations and Community Services, said the grant, for the establishment of an Economic Development Administration University Center, will allow the university to work with local communities and provide assistance with strategic planning and international trade to help boost job growth and develop local economies.
"We are the first university along the U.S./Mexico border to be selected as an EDA University Center. I think we’re beginning to be recognized as a major academic institution along the border," he said.
Gore’s audience included participants at the Southwest Border Region Conference as well as state and local officials. The conference brought together representatives from empowerment zones and enterprise communities in five states to begin developing a comprehensive regional strategy concerning health, environment, infrastructure, trade, welfare reform and education.
Empowerment zones and enterprise communities are a federal initiative to focus federal resources and programs in areas of high need.