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Economic Development & Poverty

Community Problem Report: Art Budget Cuts

The University of Texas at El Paso

RWS 1301

November 6, 2015

Brian Barraza

Economic Development & Poverty


In todays fast paced economy, there is no wonder that the potential for growth and
wealth are at an all-time high. This can be seen in America as its one of the wealthiest nations in
the world. But even though this is the case, poverty still exists in America, and even though
government policies and welfare programs are attempting to solve these issues, the problem still
persists. With poverty rates decreasing across the United States, a trend can be noticed, the trend
has identified that minorities are most likely to live in poverty, within the research and with
deeper focus, many of these communities living in poverty are located in border towns such as El
Paso, Texas. The report will reflect on the current economic environment in the area, economic
factors, factors that cause poverty, current government policies, and different programs
attempting to assist and raise awareness towards the issue.

Key words: Economy, poverty, policy, programs

Economic Development & Poverty


Even with the current economic growth in the El Paso area and its different welfare
programs, El Paso still remains as one of the poorest metropolitan cities in Texas. Poverty rates
are higher than both state and national levels. With the government creating incentives and
policies to attract business and investments, and its many financial assistance programs, the city
is still struggling to get the twenty percent of families living in poverty to a wealthier economic
state. In order to further understand the numbers and what can be done different, different factors
and solutions must be analyzed in order to assist the people struggling with poverty, and give
them the opportunity to live a healthy life.

Economic environment in El Paso

The El Paso city is known for being a strategic center for logistics and manufacturing. This is
due to the fact that it is geographically located in the center of the United States and its a border
town to one of Americas largest trading partners, Mexico. El Paso been a border town means,
low salaries, low wages, fast manufacturing, vast labor force, and easy access for transportation
and logistics. With all of these factors been provided by the city, businesses and large
corporations began to see the many benefits of investing and moving to a city like El Paso. This
investment provided by businesses meant more jobs, and the potential for economic growth.
According to Valdez (2015) El Paso's economic growth ranked in the middle of the pack among
381 U.S. metro areas last year, according to a new report. With all the reports been released by

Economic Development & Poverty

agencies and an economy is projected to grow at a rate of 2.5 percent this year, the city would be
expected to be one of the top
wealthiest cities in the nation, but
according to a recent study, El Paso
ranks amongst one of the poorest
metropolitan cities of its size across
Fig 1: I-10 is a major
transportation network,
perfect for logistics.

the nation, which translates to a

high poverty rate in the community.

Underdeveloped areas and poverty in El Paso

According to recent studies, in Texas, the poverty rate has gone from 17.9 percent to 17.5
percent. This shows that across Texas, poverty has been efficiently decreasing and income levels
have slowly started to increase as the median house hold income is over $50,000 a year. But the
same cannot be said about El Paso as its poverty rate is of over 21 percent among families. As
mentioned by Price (2014), Approximately one in five families in El Paso are living in
poverty. With its median income been among $30,000 for a family of four, this number is
extremely close to what is considered the poverty level in the United States, which would be
$20,000 for a family of four. With this type of data been released and the fact the levels of
poverty have remained stagnant over the last few years, the government has started to take action
in order to assess the issue and provide a better lifestyle for the families living in poverty.

Economic Development & Poverty

Current government policies

With poverty rates high in El Paso, the government began to take both direct and indirect
actions in order to fight poverty, this meant enacting policies, creating programs, and working
with economic development agencies. One of the main agencies that the local government works
with is the Borderplex alliance agency, this agency is in charge of analyzing economic factors
and providing different types of data and incentives in order to persuade businesses into entering
and investing into the city. This helps the economy grow since the investment of companies
creates jobs and more employment opportunities means higher income and wealth. The
government has also recently released an incentive policy under Chapter 380 which will help
achieve economic development by expanding, diversifying the tax base, and creating new quality
jobs in the area. Between the agency and the policy been enacted, the further economic
development will assist by providing opportunity for growth and wealth, which in turn will assist
communities struggling with poverty. Although these policies might now be immediate, the
government has also created different programs in order to assist the community and the families
fighting poverty.

Programs and organizations

Economic Development & Poverty

Even though the government is currently trying to assist families living in poverty, many
families are struggling to keep up with bills and payments for rent and groceries. Due to this fact,
many programs have been implemented in order to further assist the families in case of
emergencies and other issues that they might be facing. One of the main organizations is the El
Paso County General Assistance, this program provides emergency financial assistance and cash
grants for paying rent, mortgage, utilities, prescription medications, and other basic living
necessities. The second program that is currently assisting with the issue of poverty is Project
BRAVO. Project BRAVO also offers numerous assistance programs for low income families,
such as free advice for people who might go through foreclosure or default on their mortgage.
In conclusion, with the economy in el Paso growing faster than ever, and major
companies and investments entering the city. El Paso is still struggling with poverty, with over 20
percent of its population living in poverty and one in five families currently living under poverty,
it is clear that something must be done about it. Even with the current government policies been
enacted to promote growth and create wealth, and with different types of welfare programs
currently in place, the community is still struggling with poverty. This means that the community
needs to offer assistance and dominations if possible in order to help those who are down on their
luck or struggling to get by, not because its a requirement, but because its the humane thing to


Economic Development & Poverty

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Price, P. (2014, October 24) El Pasoans living in poverty speak out as rate remains above
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