March 03, 2015

Udall at Commerce Hearing: Investments in Santa Teresa Infrastructure, Innovative Economic Development Crucial to Strengthening N.M. Communities

WASHINGTON - Today during a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee, U.S. Senator Tom Udall pressed U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx about funding for economic development in New Mexico. Udall, who recently joined the committee, discussed the importance of investing in resources to expand trade and commerce at the Santa Teresa Port of Entry, his ongoing efforts to support the creation of an Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Institute in the Albuquerque area, and the importance of continued economic development investments in groups like Innovate Albuquerque.

Udall highlighted how the new Union Pacific transloading facility at the Santa Teresa Port of Entry has helped expand commerce and boost New Mexico's economy.

"Capitalizing on the growth of freight rail infrastructure in New Mexico is an issue I've been working on for some time. These private investments are helping connect New Mexico's businesses with the world and creating a transportation hub in my home state. The department recognized this opportunity and recently awarded a $400,000 TIGER grant to develop a strategic transportation plan for Santa Teresa," said Udall, who advocated for Santa Teresa to receive the highly competitive TIGER grant. The investment will help ensure that workers in New Mexico's border communities have a reliable way to commute to work and support future growth near the Port of Entry.

Udall reiterated his support for the TIGER grant program and praised the administration's request to double its size to allow for more investments in local transportation infrastructure and create jobs and economic opportunity. Foxx told Udall that expanding the program will help the department meet infrastructure needs in communities across the country.

Udall also questioned Pritzker about how the Commerce Department plans to support institutions that become part of the new National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. Udall has supported the initiative as a way to create jobs, and recently announced that the University of New Mexico's team has been selected as a finalist for one of the manufacturing institutes focused on advanced photonics. Pritzker committed to spearheading coordination among the institutes to ensure they learn from one another.

Udall also said that increasing the Economic Development Administration's investment in planning will help partnerships like Innovate Albuquerque get off the ground and create jobs. Udall helped Innovate Albuquerque secure a $1.49 million grant from the Economic Development Administration and is supporting efforts to fund similar technology incubators.