Earlier this month, G-13 saw its efforts come to fruition.  G-13 is a group of local business and educational organizations that have joined forces to advance issues of interest to the private sector.  The group joined the City of Laredo delegation on its annual legislative trip to Washington, DC.  This is the second consecutive year that the Laredo G-13 delegation collaborates with the Chamber’s on the annual legislative trip.  The group hand-carried with them a legislative plan of action that they had developed over the past few months identifying and advocating issues of importance and interest to the economic development of the business community.  These topics were delivered in the form of position papers that were derived through an inclusive, comprehensive manner with the participation of all thirteen local business and educational associations. These included:

  • International Trade and NAFTA – Laredo is the nation’s largest and most important inland port. In 2016 it processed over $230 billion of cargo. With one of the largest concentrations of U.S. customs brokers and freight forwarders in the nation, this industry represents a major source of employment for the Laredo/Webb area, but it also serves as a gateway for trade for almost every state in the union. A quick renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement is vital to the flow of commerce with the U.S.’ leading trade partners.
  • Border Security –Security of our borders is vital to the safety of the nation’s citizenry and to ensure secure flow of legal commerce.  The Laredo Chamber supports the strengthening of resources, human and other, in particular at the nation’s ports of entry, and the reinforcement of border security with the use of technology.

o Also included was a recently published white paper “Common Sense: Border Security Solutions” by Mr. Dennis Nixon that outlines important elements regarding the cleanup of the Rio Grand to give Border Patrol access and visibility; Clearing the backlog of the immigration court system by hiring more immigration judges; and cost-effective measures that would enhance opportunities for security without building a wall.

  • Infrastructure: Freight Mobility –Having international bridges that move traffic efficiently is of little consequence if the infrastructure providing access and exit to/from the bridges is antiquated and inefficient.  A case is made to provide additional support for completion of the I-35/I-69 interchange in the short term and for eventual construction of a fifth international bridge.
  • Workforce Development –Laredo has a young and plentiful labor force; yet highly unskilled.  A program to support training in STEM and technological fields is proposed.
  • Transportation –Laredo has two major railroads and over 200 trucking companies servicing its freight industry.  The local industry offers innovative solutions for the recruitment of drivers as well as support for infrastructure development.

A total of twenty-six members representative of the various G-13 business organizations signed up for the legislative trip to Washington, DC.  In the nation’s capital, the group hosted a breakfast meeting with U.S. Senator Cornyn, who addressed the group and reassured his support of the INFRA Grant application for the Laredo I-35/I69W improvements project. The group also had the opportunity to meet with Congressman Henry Cuellar, Senator Ted Cruz and his staff; Congressman David Reichert, Chair of the Subcommittee for Trade; Congressman Mike Conaway, Chair on the House Committee on Agriculture; as well as experts in particular fields from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  These included: Monique Thierry, Executive Director of USCC Southwest & South Central Regional Office; Christopher Wenk, Executive Director for International Policy; Jon Baselice, Director of Immigration Policy; and Ed Mortimer, Executive Director of Transportation and Infrastructure Policy Team.  Some members of the group had opportunity to attend a breakfast meeting addressing the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement which featured David MacNaughton, who serves as Canada’s Ambassador to the United States; Gerónimo Gutiérrez, who serves as Mexico’s Ambassador to the United States; U.S. Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas; and, U.S. Representative Will Hurd, from the 23rd Congressional District of Texas.

Forming the business delegation were:

Mario Pena Laredo Chamber of Commerce/IBC

Cassandra Wheeler Laredo Chamber of Commerce/TAMIU

Miguel A. Conchas Laredo Chamber of Commerce

Miriam Castillo              Laredo Chamber of Commerce

Henry Sauvignet           Laredo Chamber of Commerce/IBC

Andrew Carranco Laredo Chamber of Commerce

Enrique Gonzalez Laredo Licensed U.S. Customs Brkrs. Assoc.

J.D. Gonzalez              Laredo Licensed U.S. Customs Brkrs. Assoc.

Arturo Dominguez Laredo Licensed U.S. Customs Brkrs. Assoc.

Melissa Huddleston Laredo Motorcarriers Assoc.

Ernesto Gaytan Laredo Motorcarriers Assoc.

Gerardo Maldonado Laredo Motorcarriers Assoc.

Jesus Marina              Association of Laredo Forwarding Agents

Gonzalo Prida              Association of Laredo Forwarding Agents

Edgardo Pedraza Asociación de Agentes Aduanales de N. Ldo.

Luis Viñals                Asociación de Agentes Aduanales de N. Ldo.

Carlos Martinez         Asociación de Agentes Aduanales de N. Ldo.

Martha Reyes         Asociación de Agentes Aduanales de N. Ldo.

Yolanda Malagon Asociación de Agentes Aduanales de N. Ldo.

Fortino Fernandez Asociación de Agentes Aduanales de N. Ldo.

Francisco Marquez Asociación de Empresarios Mexicanos

Gilberto Gamboa       Laredo Board of Realtors

Olivia Varela Laredo Economic Development Corporation

Tony Arce              Laredo Economic Development Corporation/AEP

Rolando Ortiz         Laredo Economic Development Corporation/ Killam Companies

Dr. Pablo Arenaz TAMIU

The Laredo Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1915 is Laredo’s and Webb County’s longest running business organization.  The Laredo Chamber works constantly to create a business-friendly environment in the community. It currently counts with 700 members within its rolls, representing every facet of the business community.