City touts the virtues of Borderland at SXSW

El Paso represented at SXSW 2018. Courtesy: Robert Holguin

When you think of South by Southwest, a live band playing to a packed house is what probably comes to mind. The massive music festival in Austin attracts hundreds of thousands to the state capital every year. But SXSW has evolved over the years. The week-long festival and conference now includes a trade show at the Austin convention center. And this is where the Borderland was building its brand.

"This is what our region is, this is what the border is, these are the faces that are making a dynamic community boom," said El Paso City Representative Peter Svarzbein, one of several city and county officials who were in Austin earlier this week to promote the strengths of the Sun City.

"And looking for people to invest," he said. "Looking to talk to venture capitalists and really creating an ecosystem of cutting edge technology for economic development and growth."

The El Paso booth at the trade show was created in collaboration with the city and county of El Paso and Las Cruces.

"I was surprised how much access there is to capital, to national partners, international markets," said Anthony Dorman, the CEO of Electronic Caregiver, a national company based in Las Cruces. "We've had people approach us, find out what we're working on with health initiatives and these are top Forbes and Fortune level companies."

The booth included local start-up companies as well.

"So for me to be a part of this event was a great experience and I think it's really going to add a lot of experience to what I've been doing," said Santiago Martinez of the Juarez-based VR Tech.

In total, the city invested $100,000 in this endeavor, which included the booth and two pedicabs branded with the El Paso logo. And yes, the Amigo Man mascot was there as well.

So will the money spent in Austin bring investments to El Paso? Svarzbein says the answer is "yes."

"We need to be able to be in those places where eyes of the world are looking at us," Svarzbein said. "And SXSW attracts over 400,000 people during that week from across the world who are looking to invest who are looking to explore the next big place, the next big company the next big band."

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