Save the Stacks–Last Chance!


Conceptual vision of mixed use of ASARCO property

We wrote in an earlier article (“Save the ASARCO Stacks–Create a Sustainable Future“) of the historical and economic importance of preserving the smoke stacks associated with the now closed industrial complex just off Interstate-10 near downtown El Paso, TX.  We discussed possible mixed uses of the property, including academic research,  a “Green Technology” research park, an international cultural heritage museum,  and outdoor recreational uses of the property all centered around the cultural and historical heritage represented by the stacks.  A small, non-profit organization—Save the Stacks –has led the fight to keep these iconic structures as part of our border skyline.  Made up of concerned El Pasoans  with no political or commercial interests in the stacks or the approximate 400 acres on which they stand, Save the Stacks has advocated using the stacks as part of a monument dedicated to all the individuals impacted by the regional industries and activities represented by them.  However their backs are against the proverbial “wall” as they must convince authorities to stop current plans for the stacks imminent demolition in early April.  This is the last chance to save the stacks or they will be destroyed and a bit of our border’s history lost forever! Continue reading


Re-Energize the Americas–Focus on Border Energy, Water and Economic Development

The Water-Energy Nexus

Over two hundred attendees are expected at next week’s Re-Energize the Americas conference being held in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  The event being held on October 17-18 will not only focus on important facets of energy issues, including most aspects of conventional and alternative energy important to the border region, but will discuss the important interlinks between energy and water as well as opportunities for innovative economic development critical to the Americas. Continue reading


Cyber Security in Utilities–What Can We Do?

The following article by guest contributor Dr. Ralph Martinez is part of a series of articles focused on energy issues of importance to our region and as part of a lead up to the 2nd Annual Re-energize the Americas conference being held on Oct 17 & 18th, 2012 at the Las Cruces, NM Convention Center.

Cyber Security in “Smart Grids”

North American networks and devices come under attack billions of times each year. In the nuclear industry alone, the National Nuclear Security Administration estimates that more than 10 million cyber attacks occur in the United States each day. United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently stated, “The potential for the next Pearl Harbor could very well be a cyber-attack. The capability to paralyze this country is here now…and there is a high risk.” Continue reading


Follow-Up to our Post: “Build It and They Will Come”

A number of developments have ocurred since the publication of our post on July 19th, “Build It and They Will Come”.  Apparently, opposition to tearing down City Hall in order to build a new Triple-A baseball stadium has led to new efforts related to the Quality of Life bond as well as groups looking to petition a referendum on the entire issue.  Some of the stories:

  • New PAC to promote quality of life bond, Opposition to Downtown Ballpark speeds up plan— Organizers are accelerating efforts to form a political action committee to back the proposed $468-million quality of life bond, concerned that growing opposition to a new Downtown ballpark might spill over into the bond election. Story by Bob Gray, El Paso, Inc. July 29-Aug 4, 2012.
  • Petition seeks vote on ballpark, quality-of-life plans–A petition submitted to the city on Tuesday by a local group is proposing an initiative that could have ramifications for the $50 million Downtown ballpark approved earlier by the City Council.The group, Quality of Life Voters for Democracy, was spurred to gather signatures for the petition by the lack of involvement in the decision to approve the Downtown ballpark.They submitted more than 2,300 signatures to the city clerk and ask that all quality-of-life projects get voter approval before the City Council funds them. The petition also states that change be retroactive to June 26, when the Downtown ballpark was approved by a 6-2 City Council vote.–Story By Evan Mohl El Paso Times, 08/01/2012
  • Paul Foster: Baseball almost a done dealEvents surrounding El Paso’s efforts to bring Triple-A baseball to the city are moving fast. This week, the city received formal notification from the Pacific Coast League that it had approved MountainStar Sports Group’s purchase of a team. Though the team has not officially been named because the parties are bound by confidentiality agreements, it is known that MountainStar is attempting to buy the Tucson Padres for $20 million and bring the team to El Paso and a stadium the city has committed to build–Story by David Crowder, El Paso, Inc. July 29-Aug 4, 2012
  • El Paso very close to Triple-A baseballCity manager: Deal is ‘moving forward’–The sounds, fun and excitement of Triple-A baseball is close, very close, to coming to El Paso.

    On Monday, the Pacific Coast League, one of three leagues that play Triple-A baseball, informed the city that the league had approved the sale of a team to a group of local investors known as MountainStar Sports Group of El Paso.

    The letter sent to City Manager Joyce Wilson says, in effect, that the sale of a team to the El Paso group is all but a formality.

    “Basically, they’ve given approval to close the transaction,” Wilson said. “It’s pretty clear the next phase is kind of a formality. It’s moving forward.”–Story By Bret Bloomquist El Paso Times, Aug 1, 2012

A final note:  A careful view of the artist’s rendition of the proposed stadium shows that the fans along the first base line are in for an additional treat–that section of the stadium apparently sits directly over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks!  Should make for an interesting afternoon and/or evening.–Paul Maxwell



If You Build It, They Will Come

The Tucson Padres, Triple-A baseball team being considered for acquisition in El Paso

In the movie “Field of Dreams,” Kevin Costner heard a voice (presumably from baseball’s legendary “Shoeless” Joe Jackson) whispering, “if you build it, he will come.”  Citizens of the border metropolis of El Paso are being asked to have similar faith as a local consortium of private business leaders have proposed a new baseball stadium in downtown El Paso.  They have convinced the City Council with only one session of public discussion that economic nirvana awaits just one baseball stadium and a triple-A franchise away.  Continue reading


Where’s the Next Bill Gates?*

Bill Gates (lower left) is shown with the full Microsoft corporate staff in 1978

It’s interesting to note that one of the most influential technology companies of the 20th century—Microsoft—came about when two young Harvard undergrads in 1975 dropped out of school and promoted software they hadn’t even written yet(!). Bill Gates, with his boyhood friend Paul Allen, convinced Albuquerque’s Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS), a manufacturer of a home kit microcomputer, to partner with them and distribute a primary computer language they had just adapted to run on their product (Bill was modifying the software on the flight to Albuquerque, his “beta” version–sound familiar?).  Selling their first commercially developed software for $3,000 and royalties, they set up shop in Albuquerque as “Micro-soft” (for “microcomputer” and “software”), later dropping the hyphen and their partner.  As with many new startups Continue reading


Growing Our Own– Creating Young Entrepreneurs (Part II)

Elevator Pitch contestant during STEM3 Challenge competition

The young lady stood calmly before an audience of some two hundred and in 90 seconds explained how she could turn their investment of $750,000 into a new company with a new unique product that would save the US Postal Service hundreds of millions of dollars and get the potential venture capitalists 12 times their investment within 2 years–“We are Inkblot, a new startup!”.  Her poise and confidence seemed more akin to an aggressive entrepreneur ready to compete in the global market than the high school senior she actually was.  She was participating in the STEM3 Challenge— an exciting and unusual (if not unique) business plan contest— sponsored by the Upper Rio Grande Workforce Solutions and other public and private institutions.  This new entrepreneur Continue reading


Growing Our Own — Creating Young Entrepreneurs (Part I)

Years ago (too many to recount!) when I completed my education and looked to enter the “real” world, my fellow students and I saw great opportunities but somewhat limited choices.  We all looked to land good jobs in big companies, big government or a prestigious university.  None of us looked at starting our own business.  Professors and mentors never mentioned such a pathway and, frankly, it never occurred to me.  Looking back I can only wonder what may have been had someone given me a slight nudge in that direction.

Today our world of global competitiveness is much different and at least some of our aspiring graduates look to be captains of their own destiny, choosing riskier but, perhaps, the more rewarding option of creating a new startup of their very own.  Institutions such as Stanford and MIT have long understood the opportunities for innovation from their research and education enterprises.  In their culture, entering students see themselves as failures if at graduation they aren’t part of a new startup–the next Google or Facebook or whatever. Continue reading


License to Kill–Patenting Pitfalls

Innovation Stream--Moving ideas to patents to licenses to commerce

Inventors face a number of obstacles in looking to see their inventions and ideas translated into new companies and successful commercial products.  It is not enough to simply patent your invention and then wait for the masses to knock down your door looking to make you rich through a license or startup investment.  Two weeks ago at their monthly meeting, the Rio Bravo Technology Entrepreneurs Council (RBTEC) had a panel of experts delve into some of the issues and pitfalls related to licensing patents.  This included, purposefully, licensing by large companies to tie up inventions that may compete with their current products (“licensing to kill”) to control their market share.  Continue reading


Graduating Mexico’s Future

El Diario 2/10/12

Last week my wife and I went to Juarez.  While it was a short hop to our neighbor “sister” city, this was not a trip made lightly.   It was subject to a number of “friendly” husband-wife conversations, phone calls with family, and not a little angst.   Normally, in years past, this would have been a no-brainer, a short journey to a colorful city where in past years we had spent many afternoons and evenings with friends and families enjoying the unique pleasures of this ancient town.  The drug violence of the last several years have totally changed this. Ultimately, we made the journey and we are glad we did. Continue reading