SOUTHWEST BORDER ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE
May 25, 1999
Today, the President and Vice President launched a Southwest Border
Economic Development Initiative to address the unique shared challenges
facing the communities along the Mexican border by strengthening
community efforts to generate sustained development and lasting
Increased interaction with our Mexican neighbors along the border is
generating economic development opportunities and challenges that put a
heightened premium on federal coordination and cooperation with state
and local organization as well as binational cooperation. Coordination
is critical among the new institutions created to address environmental,
worker dislocation, and economic development challenges:
The Border Economic Cooperation Commission coordinates border
The North American Development Bank (NADBank) finances
environmental and other projects.
The Community Adjustment Investment Program catalyzes investment
and job creation in local communities.
The NAFTA Trade Adjustment Assistance program funds worker
retraining and reemployment activities.
The Southwest Border Regional Partnership was created to build
a sustainable economy in a sustainable environment in response to
Vice President Gore's challenge to the Empowerment Zones to better
link community and regional revitalization efforts.
The region's unique challenges reflect economic disparities along our
2000-mile border with Mexico.
Border communities' demographic challenges are distinct from those
elsewhere in the nation. Their population is growing twice as fast and
is much younger than in the rest of the country,
Three times as many people living along the border speak a foreign
language in the home compared to the rest of the country.
Economic development needs along the Southwest Border are great:
per capita personal income is 12 percent below the national average,
and the region's poverty rate is one third greater. Unemployment is
high and one quarter of adults have less than a high school graduate's
Interagency Task Force on the Economic Development of the Southwest
President Clinton is taking executive action to establish an Interagency
Task Force on the Economic Development of the Southwest Border. The
mission is to coordinate and better leverage federal economic
development and other services for the Southwest Border in close concert
with locally led efforts. The goal is to raise the living standards and
overall economic profile of the Southwest Border on a sustained basis.
The Task Force will report to the Vice President. The Task Force
will enhance coordination among the related economic development
institutions, binational efforts such as Border XXI, Empowerment Zones
and Enterprise Communities, and other federal economic development
programs and integrate these federal programs with locally led efforts.
The Task Force will seek to mobilize a more integrated, rapid
response by federal agencies to community economic development
strategies by analyzing existing programs and policies of member
agencies; consulting and coordinating activities with state and local
authorities, community leaders, Members of Congress, and other
stakeholders; developing short- and long-term options for promoting
sustainable economic development; and integrating Administration
initiatives and programs into concrete, effective actions.
With overall coordination by the National Economic Council, Task
Force members will include the federal agencies that supply economic
development programs and services to the region, including the
Departments of Treasury, Agriculture, Labor, State, Education, Defense,
Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, Interior, Health and Human
Services, Transportation, and Energy, as well as the Environmental
Protection Agency, Small Business Administration, Office of Management
and Budget, Office of National Drug Control Policy and General Services
Websites and other means will be developed to disseminate
information about the Task Force's activities and establish continuous
communication with the communities and policy makers in Southwest Border
The Task Force will monitor the progress of each community
strategic plan and present annual progress reports to the Vice President
from the lead agencies and agency teams.
Rapid Response Pilots
As part of its initial implementation efforts, the Task Force will
establish demonstration projects aimed at creating an integrated, rapid
response capability targeted to the priority needs identified by pilot
communities in their economic development plans.
For each pilot community, a community team and a federal team will
be created in parallel to coordinate and expedite the federal response.
The Community Rapid Response Team will develop strategic plans and
priorities and interact with the federal, state and local authorities.
The corresponding Federal Rapid Response Team will organize the delivery
of federal services in a manner that matches community priorities.