El Paso Businesses Suffer From Economy in Juarez

Friday, June 18, 2010 - 5:42pm

The violence in Mexico has led to a mass exodus of people in Juarez and now businesses in El Paso are hurting. There has been a steep decline in the number of shoppers crossing the border into the U.S.

Since less people are crossing the bridge into the U.S., dozens of stores have had to close up shop.

Walter Kim is the owner of KSM Corporation, a retail store right on the border.

"I'm just trying to survive," Kim said. "What if we lose our business? Where do we go?"

He said ninety percent of his customers are from Juarez but because the economy across the border is suffering, so is his business. He's had to cut more than the number of employees at his store.

"I have to cancel my IRA, everything," Kim said.

The number of people crossing the border into El Paso has declined by about twenty percent in recent months, according to Mike Breitinger, executive direction of the El Paso Central Business Association.

"We're seeing businesses leave, longstanding businesses that have been here for years," Breitinger said.

But he said that it is not over yet. Summer is an especially slow time for crossings and he is not sure that the area can afford it.

"We've got about 24 empty storefronts and probably two years ago, people were waiting in line to lease," Breitinger said.

He is working on improving the image of the area and said El Paso is not affected by the violence in Juarez.
Still, Kim said people are scared and his block is a ghost town once late afternoon hits.

"We don't know how long we have to suffer more in the future," Kim said. "That's a big problem; that's a scary thing,"

The Central Business Association is planning festivals and guided shopping tours to increase traffic in the area.

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