SANTA TERESA, N.M. (AP) — Two border ports in New Mexico reported record commercial traffic as the state continues to push to build the region as an alternative to the congestion between Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, Texas.
The New Mexico Border Authority announced this week that last year the Santa Teresa Port of Entry processed more than 81,000 commercial trucks — 13 percent higher than any year on record.
Meanwhile, the Columbus Port of Entry processed in 2012 more than 10,000 commercial trucks, with 18 percent more crossings than any prior year, according to the agency. The same port saw an 11 percent growth in pedestrian traffic, state officials said.
State Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela credited the growth to the creation of the Six Mile Overweight Cargo Radius signed into law by Gov. Susana Martinez in 2011.
"The overweight zone has proven to be a success with several companies having relocated to the New Mexico Borderplex," he said. "This initiative was a strategic move to create jobs by making it easier trucks coming from Mexico with large loads to cross through New Mexico and unload their cargo here."
The rise in traffic come as Union Pacific finishes a $400 million rail hub on 2,200 acres near Santa Teresa's crossing. In addition, some Mexican companies are relocating north to escape the drug violence in their country, and a trend continues toward moving some manufacturing from Asia to Mexico.
Officials said the increase in demand for chili pepper and other agriculture exports has mostly driven the growth in crossings at the Columbus Port of Entry and producers such as Border Food in Deming are responding to that demand.
The region's growth has been a keystone to plans by Martinez for economic expansion in the state. Last year, Martinez and Barela attended a distribution center groundbreaking in Santa Teresa for Interceramic Inc., a Mexican company that is one of the largest ceramic tile manufacturers in North America.
Some 50 companies have moved to the area in the past 15 years, including TE Connectivity, Georgia Pacific, Monarch Litho, Northwire, Menlo Logistics, and Expeditors. Officials say the companies have created around 2,000 jobs.