A&M International's Texas Center Redefines Role

Texas A&M International University's Texas Center for Border Economic and Enterprise (Texas Center) has redefined its role to better assist the community with information gathering efforts directed at continued development.

Dr. Michael Patrick, director of the Texas Center and professor of economics, said the Texas Center will now utilize all four University colleges as resources in order to broaden its scope of public services.

"A&M International is committed to helping the community secure useful information that will help to address problems that affect us all. By doing so, we hope to find new ways to increase economic activity in our area," Patrick said.

Established by the Texas Legislature in 1987, the Texas Center is a consortium effort between Texas A&M International University, the University of Texas-Pan American and the University of Texas at El Paso. It is designed to provide leadership and support to Texas border communities in their economic and community development efforts.

Patrick said sample topics the Texas Center could provide information on include health, education, economics, public administration, and science.

Foremost in this effort will be the Texas Center's development and maintenance of a border socio-economic electronic and hard copy database available to the public. It will also facilitate and support University faculty research targeted to solving community problems in various areas such as job training, health care delivery and the environment, Patrick said.

"Our University has the knowledge and expertise available to enable us to act as a vehicle to help our community to reach its desired goals. The Texas Center will provide management education, training and technical assistance to area businesses in their efforts to expand and grow," Patrick said.

In addition, the Texas Center plans to develop internship programs that will provide opportunities for A&M International students to work with community partners, thus reaching a broader section of the population, Patrick said.

Dr. John Adams, president of the Laredo Manufacturers Association, said the Texas Center could have a major impact on a community that is constantly searching for new business possibilities.

"The Texas Center has provided useful information during the annual 'Vision' conferences organized by the Laredo Chamber of Commerce in Mexico to attract businesses to Laredo," Adams said, "It could be extremely valuable in helping define the opportunities that exist. It could also help create jobs and investment and identify business trends."

Adams said he has personally relied on the Texas Center for economic data when writing his book, Mexican Banking and Investment in Transition.

Rosalia Guerrero, director of operations for Centro Aztlán, a local social service agency, said she thinks the expanded Texas Center would be helpful for her organization because it taps into resources from all four University colleges.

"We provide support and services to low income families in this area and when we look at these problems, they are usually multi-faceted. The resources of four colleges can come together to provide information that could be used to solve these multi-faceted problems," Guerrero said.

University student interns could also assist Centro Aztlán in researching information that the organization does not have the personnel or the time to accomplish, Guerrero noted.

"They can also provide us consulting services that we probably cannot afford," Guerrero said, "I'm a firm believer that wherever you find a four-year University, you will find a lot of community and economic development. It is a great advantage to have A&M International and the Texas Center here."

Likewise, Miguel Conchas, president of the Laredo Chamber of Commerce, agreed that the Texas Center could help his organization in its community business development efforts.

"We, at the Chamber of Commerce, don't have a research department and I think the Texas Center could help us in that area as we continue to expand our outreach efforts. It could provide us information on economic indicators. Our need for information will expand and I think that the Texas Center will definitely be a help," Conchas said.

For further information, please contact Dr. Michael Patrick at 326-2546 or by e-mail to jmpatrick@tamiu.edu. University office hours are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu