In the continuing saga of El Paso stupidity the El Paso Chamber of Commerce is trekking to Seattle. That’s right the Chamber that so thoughtfully doled out an Entrepreneur of the Year Award to convicted Bob Jones is now planning a trip to learn from Seattle’s downtown redevelopment efforts, as if they could be duplicated in El Paso.

On August 7 through the 9th the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce is planning an intercity trip to Seattle. Their purpose, according to them is to “experience first-hand a city that has made significant strides” in areas that according to them are important to El Paso.

According to their invitation, the areas important to El Paso are: Regional Collaboration, Downtown Development & Transportation, Education and Smart Code Development. It is interesting that all of these items are embraced by the current political cabal at the city.

The Chamber is asking for a “strong community leader” with $1,650 to be part of this trip.

This is nothing more than another idiotic example of how the El Paso leadership buys its way into the graces of the political cabal. There is nothing Seattle can teach El Paso because the metrics of the two cities are incompatible to each other. Seattle and El Paso are so far apart in economic activity and educational metrics that comparing the two is like comparing the United States to North Korea.

Just for fun, let’s do a little comparison:

Education: (US Census Bureau 2007-2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates)

El Paso:

  • Less than 9th grade: 17.5%
  • Some high school, no diploma: 10.5%
  • High school diploma: 24.3%
  • Associates degree: 6.3%
  • Bachelor’s degree: 13.2%
  • Graduate degree: 6.6%


  • Less than 9th grade: 3.6%
  • Some high school, no diploma: 4%
  • High school diploma: 12.1%
  • Associates degree: 7.0%
  • Bachelor’s degree: 33.4%
  • Graduate degree: 22.4%

Population: (US Census Bureau)

El Paso:

  • Population: 800,647 (2010)
  • Median age: 31.3 years
  • Households: 256,557
  • Average family size: 3.56
  • Owner occupied housing units: 161,695
  • Population in owner occupied household units: 516,625
  • Renter occupied housing units: 94,862
  • Population in renter occupied units: 268,230


  • Population: 608,660 (2010)
  • Median age:  36.1 years
  • Households: 283,510
  • Average family size: 2.87
  • Owner occupied housing units: 136,362
  • Population in owner occupied household units: 315,382
  • Renter occupied housing units: 147,148
  • Population in renter occupied units: 268,598

Median Household Income: (US Census Bureau)

  • El Paso: $38,259
  • Seattle:  $61,856

Per Capita Income: (US Census Bureau)

  • El Paso: $17,618
  • Seattle: $41,695

With Food Stamp Benefits: (in the last 12 months, US Census Bureau)

  • El Paso: 20.6%
  • Seattle: 7.9%

Median Home Cost: (as of February 2013 according to Zillow)

  • El Paso: $109,900
  • Seattle: $399,300

Violent crimes: (FBI, 2011 city statistics, not including county)

  • El Paso: 2,858
  • Seattle: 3,664

Unemployment Rate: (as of February 2013, Bureau of Labor Statistics)

  • El Paso: 9.1%
  • Seattle: 5.8%

Fortune 500 companies:

El Paso: Western Refining (298)


  • Amazon (78)
  • Expeditors International of Washington (384)
  • Nordstrom (254)
  • Starbucks (229)

None of the El Paso metrics compare to Seattle and in fact all of them are far worse than Seattle. Except for the violent crime metric and the population, El Paso ranks below Seattle. Economically El Paso cannot be compared to Seattle. Seattle hosts four Fortune 500 companies while El Paso has only one.

In terms of economic activity, El Paso’s per capita income is far below Seattle’s. In fact, El Paso has about 20% of its households on food stamps while Seattle only has about 8%. How can a population so under-educated and so dependent on food stamps be expected to have enough disposal income to support a downtown arena and the income base necessary to pay into the tax base needed to sustain the downtown redevelopment?

Unless, of course, the idea is not to raise the standard of living of El Pasoans, but rather to move them out of the city in order to bring in “upwardly moving yuppies” to replace them.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...