In El Paso, economic development has found a willing partner in higher education.
Officials at the University of Texas at El Paso are keenly aware of the important role their institution plays in providing skilled and knowledgeable workers, attracting research dollars and being engines for economic development.
UTEP is a diverse campus of 21,000 students that offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs in a broad range of disciplines. A $250 million campus transformation is under way, and the two largest projects, a new building for the health sciences and nursing programs and a new chemistry and computer sciences facility, are slated for completion in 2011.
"Those opportunities for educational advancement are critical to not only workforce preparation, but to the quality of life and retention of highly talented people in the region," says Diana Natalicio, president of the university.
UTEP is consistently ranked in the top three nationally for quality programs in business and engineering for Hispanic students.
Programs like the university's Collaboration for Economic Excellence, which works with area high schools to prepare students for college and aid in the transition from secondary to higher education, have been markedly successful in achieving university demographics that mirror the surrounding region.
"I think everyone at UTEP is acutely aware of the importance of UTEP's role in economic development in this region," Natalicio says. "We know that we are a huge asset, and we take that role very seriously."
Hispanic Business Magazine consistently ranks UTEP's College of Engineering among the top five schools in the United States in awarding bachelor degrees to Hispanics and named UTEP's MBA program second among the Top 10 business graduate programs for Hispanics.
The university is home to a number of research centers in fields as diverse as biomedicine, border security, advanced materials and Hispanic health disparities.
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in El Paso includes the schools of Allied Health, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy, ensuring the region has a supply of high-quality health services and providers.
The center's Paul L. Foster School of Medicine accepted 40 first-year students in July 2009 as part of an expansion to a four-year medical program. It was the first medical school to receive accreditation in the last 25 years, and could have a $10 billion impact on the region's economy.
Check out more on living in El Paso, TX.