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City of El Paso changes business incentive plan, looking to raise wages in the Borderland

Aerial view of downtown El Paso on Thursday, December 3, 2020 (Credit: KFOX14/CBS4){ }
Aerial view of downtown El Paso on Thursday, December 3, 2020 (Credit: KFOX14/CBS4)
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The City of El Paso is changing the way it attracts new businesses and jobs to the Borderland.

After five years, the city’s incentive policy has been adjusted, and the first item on the agenda is upping how much each new job will pay.

“That’s going to help us increase the wages more effectively and more quickly,” the City of El Paso Department of Economic Development’s Rafael Arrellano said.

Last week, the El Paso City Council approved a series of changes to the city’s 380 Incentive Program, which offers grants and tax rebates to businesses that bring new jobs and development to El Paso.

Since 2015, the program has created more than 5,200 jobs and $1.17 billion in investment locally.

But city leaders said they wanted to make four new improvements to the plan, the first being how much each new job brought to El Paso would pay.

“We want to say every job in El Paso that pays a certain level, you have to come in and pay more than that if you want to start the conversation on incentives,” Arrellano said.

El Paso’s previous incentive program required that at least 80% of new jobs would be above the county’s median wage of $14.

The new policy will go even further, saying every new job offered by a company seeking incentives has to pay more than that job currently pays in El Paso.

El Paso’s city manager told KFOX14 the change would raise wages across the board.

“When we drive the wages upwardly, and that upward trajectory, all it’s going to do is drive other wages higher,” El Paso City Manager Tommy Gonzalez said. “So it’ll have a positive impact, and we’ve seen that already.”

While the new incentive policy should raise wages, city leaders said when that impact was combined with the businesses that have already committed to invest in the Borderland, El Paso’s economic future looks bright.

“They have all these different talents that they bring to the table,” Gonzalez said. “A good example of that is Amazon coming into the market. That’s going to drive the payment for other positions.”

“If we can break apart each one of these skill levels, and make sure that every company that comes to El Paso is paying more than what that job pays locally, we know that we can pick up the value of that overall wage sooner,” Arellano said.

Later this week, KFOX14 will highlight the next change to the policy, which will target what kind of businesses El Paso will be looking to bring to town.

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