Albuquerque Journal: Dell helps expand Santa Teresa port hours

By:  Kevin Robinson-Avila

Commercial traffic traveling south into Mexico through the Santa Teresa Port of Entry will soon enjoy expanded border-crossing hours thanks to a new agreement between Dell Inc. and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The federal agency approved a public-private partnership with Dell on Tuesday that allows the company to reimburse the government for the extra cost of extending southbound traffic from Santa Teresa’s current 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekday schedule to midnight on Mondays through Fridays. The Dell agreement was one of nine approved by the agency in seven states under a program that allows private entities and local and state governments to reimburse the agency for expanded services for commercial and cargo traffic.

Dell applied for inclusion in the program under advice from U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., who advocated for its approval in meetings with federal officials. Heinrich and Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., also sent a joint letter in June to Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowski urging his approval.

Expanded hours puts the Santa Teresa crossing on equal footing with border bridges in nearby El Paso, which already handle traffic until midnight on weekdays, said Jerry Pacheco, executive director of the International Business Accelerator at Santa Teresa.

“We miss a lot of border-crossing traffic because of our limited hours, but now we’ll no longer have that competitive disadvantage with El Paso,” he said. “Those extra hours will put us in the game to recruit more companies to Santa Teresa.”

A boom in exports from companies at Santa Teresa’s industrial parks helped push New Mexico’s exports to Mexico to $1.55 billion last year, up from about $800 million the year before.

Expanded port hours will help increase trade even more, Heinrich said.

“Our state’s border region is a bright spot in our economy,” Heinrich said in a prepared statement. “By collaborating with strong private sector partners, such as Dell, we can capitalize on that momentum and increase trade, create new jobs and diversify New Mexico’s economy.”