Happy 2022 from the El Paso Chamber! Nothing is more exciting to me than the turn to a new year. A new year allows us to strive toward higher, more complex benchmarks and infuse everything we do with a sense of purpose and optimism. I start this year grateful for the members of the Chamber, my staff, and the sense that working together we can make 2022 special!
Over my column this month and next, I want to accomplish several things; first, lay out our strategy for this new year and share news about some exciting projects that are underway. Second, I want to emphasize our flexibility-based approach for all Chamber activities; particularly in-person events. We recognize the newest variant of COVID-19 has people concerned and we want to assure everyone of our strategy to deal with those changes. Finally, I want to spend time over these two months emphasizing some of the leadership principles that guide what I believe in, and which have a positive impact on how the Chamber operates.
Alongside our 2022 Chair Max Villaronga, the board, my staff, and our partners in El Paso and across the country, we have constructed both an ambitious and important set of plans for the year. In coordination with the City of El Paso, we announced one of our most ambitious projects, the electrification of the city alongside with our partners El Paso Electric, UTEP and General Motors Corporation. EPC has led the way on building the partnership with GM to first, collect data on carbon impacts, vehicle usage and how vehicles might best plug their cars into the grid. This partnership represents one of five that GM has committed to across North America and has the possibility of a tremendous economic development pay out for our community and is the right thing to do for our community and planet. I am especially pleased by the innovation this effort represents. The Chamber has made innovation a mainstay of our efforts and this development is a milestone on that trajectory.
Speaking of innovation, the EPC is committed to expanding our advanced manufacturing base, particularly in the aerospace and additive manufacturing arenas. I’ve reported on this before, but our trajectory accelerates as we start 2022 and our partnership with UTEP’s Aerospace and Keck Centers and esteemed university faculty members Drs. Ahsan Choudhuri and Ryan Wicker, continues with great accomplishment and even greater promise. Through combined efforts with the UTEP team, we come closer to locking in $100 million of funding from the federal government. The team has made it one round closer in the Build Back Better funding process; a clear indication that our strategic planning and partners are creating programs that are seen as nationally important, sustainable, and impactful by assessors in the federal government.
As we start 2022 there are certainly questions about how the pandemic will impact our operations and business operations in El Paso and across the country. I always remain hopeful that science and planning will continue to keep us as safe as possible while we keep moving toward normalcy. We support efforts to make vaccines and boosters available to the community, we continue to operate on guidelines advocated by the CDC and our local health authority, and we support businesses and government entities that are adapting and continuing in their roles to provide services to the community. I believe we have a responsibility to be as safe as possible because a healthy community supports business. Many members have dealt with the pandemic head-on, showing resilience and grace. I remain committed to providing support, guidance, and financial opportunities as necessary. Our efforts to resume our own operations will benefit from the model set by local businesses and we hope to be a model for many others.
In February, I’ll talk a little more about our accomplishments and their role in the strategy for 2022 and I will share some insights into the leadership principles we will be discussing in the Chamber and through our efforts with Leadership El Paso.
Have a great start to 2022!