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Focusing on the Border Region

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Bordering the Future

In 1997, Texas Comptroller John Sharp directed the Research and Policy Development Division to undertake a study of the Texas-Mexico Border region. The study's goal was to develop an economic vision and strategy for the region to guide state and local public policy for the 21st century.

While completing background research on issues related to education, health, transportation, infrastructure, environment, economic development, and housing, the Comptroller's staff held focus group meetings in Laredo, El Paso, Edinburg, Brownsville, and San Antonio beginning in November 1997. Invitees included area business owners, administrators and teachers from the region's public and higher education systems--including community and technical colleges--public health and housing officials, environmentalists, community activists, economic development practitioners, and state and local political leaders.

Research staff conducted follow-up interviews of public and higher education officials, customs brokers, customs officials, state department heads, transportation planners, public safety officials and judicial personnel. In all, the project obtained input from more than 200 local individuals and representatives from 15 state agencies.

The focus groups and interviews identified an overarching goal of state and local economic development policy: to raise the standard of living for Border residents. Government, business, and community leaders should collaborate and develop public policies to create an environment and infrastructure that attract and sustain a higher standard of living. Such policies should make it possible for Border residents to develop the skills and opportunities they need to attain higher wages and a higher standard of living, and to attract higher value-added businesses to the region.

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Bordering the Future