Bringing Them Back Home: Ex-Pats Wanted
by Khushroo Ghadiali
Posted on December 10, 2007
As a number of cities around the country compete for talented people -- including many from the Sun City -- a group within El Paso wants to bring the region's "Ex-Pats" home.
The plan, according to District 2 Rep. Susie Byrd has been floating out there for a long time.
“I think the reasons (for leaving El Paso) run the gamut -- wages, opportunity, cool big city things to do, perceptions of El Paso,” Byrd said. “The idea is to change the trends that have plagued us, whether they are poverty, low wages or just a cloud of low ambition. We want to make sure that we market El Paso better to those people that have left."
Byrd said El Paso has seen a steep decline in the number of young adults choosing to live in the city. Between 1990 and 2006, the city lost 15,304 people between the ages of 25 and 34, while Austin gained about 40,000 young adults, she wrote in a statement explaining the project.
"For cities such as Austin, San Diego and Denver, these young adults provide a critical mass of risk takers who create high paying jobs and dynamism in the economy," read the statement.
The project seeks to recruit young, talented El Pasoans back to El Paso in three different ways, by identifying expats through existing social networks, Internet resources and publicity campaigns, surveying expats to find out where they are currently and why they won’t move back to El Paso, and identifying potential recruits and developing a plan to bring them home.
The group is also looking to attract other talented people who want to come to the Sun City and “do some cool things,” Byrd said.
The survey, which is available here, was put together by consultant Joseph Villescas, and is designed to find out why people left.
Villescas is contracted by Byrd, who said she used $4,000 saved from not filling a part-time assistant position. [Editor's note 12.10.07: Byrd initially said the funding was from discretionary funds, but called after the story was posted to correct the information] Aside from the one paid contract, all other work on the project has been voluntary, said Byrd.
The project, which has no specific timeline, is not expected to be funded by the city. The group is looking for private investors. Byrd also said that the group is looking for people and resources to help with the project.
The group putting the plan together consists of Byrd, Villescas, city Rep. Beto O’Rourke, advertising consultant Morris Pittle and city legislative aide Diana Ramirez, all of whom left El Paso at one time.
"I think the trick in getting folks to come back is to convince them that they actually grew up in the coolest city in the United States, they just didn’t know it. The other thing is to convince them that El Paso is the wild west of opportunity. You can get in on the ground floor of explosive change in El Paso.” Byrd said
El Paso Expatriates can receive a survey by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 915-541-4416.The group also is inviting El Pasoans who know Ex-Pats to send their email addresses to email@example.com.
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