EL PASO, TX (KWES) - West Texas leaders from the border headed to El Paso today, for day one of the U.S. Mexico Summit.
Hundreds were in attendance from both sides of the border, discussing the most pressing issues between both nations.
Leaders from both sides of the border packed the University of Texas at El Paso for the 2015 U.S. Mexico Summit.
"I think just these informal moments where we're talking to each other, and learning from each other's experiences are going to be profoundly important in moving our agenda forward," said Congressman "Beto" O'Rourke of the 16th District of Texas.
Panel members included Mexico Senators, Texas congressmen, Susana Martinez, the Governor of New Mexico, and officials from both public and private sectors - just to name a few.
West Texas leaders from Presidio were front row center.
"Presidio, Odessa, Ojinaga and Chihuahua City are all coming together now and I think we're on the verge of something really, really big. Conferences like [this] just reinforce that we're barking up the right tree," said Brad Newton, the Executive Director of the Presidio Municipal Development District.
Conversations about the importance of education, and harmonious relationships triggered applause.
Most - if not all - are on the same page. Mexico and the United States can't function without each other.
"We have some tricks that they don't have, but they have manufacturing we don't have. When we meet those two together, it's a perfect partnership,"
The exchange of business and educational ideas, and successful partnerships between the public and private sectors - like sports and world renown museums - were only examples of the potential both countries have working with one another.
"Talk about the issues and try to work together and not let the sometimes negative political rhetoric damage that relationship," said Alejandra de la Vega, the Chief Executive Officer of Almacenes Distribuidores de la Frontera.
Presidio is on the front lines of doing business with Mexico. The Trans Pecos Pipeline is one of many big projects happening there which will benefit both countries.
"The 42-inch gas pipeline that will bring 1.4 billion cubic feet of Texas natural gas to Mexico. Second is the expansion of the port of entry bridge from two lanes to four. Then, of course, repair the railroad bridge and also make it a cattle crossing," said Newton.
It was Mayor John Ferguson's first time at an international meeting.
"We just want to keep these lines of communication open," said Ferguson.
For months now, Presidio and Ojinaga leaders have pushed for the State Department to lift the travel advisory for Ojinaga. A goal likely supported by panelists who say the border region is not sufficiently understood by those who live outside of it.
"Some of [the attendees] can actually be very helpful to Presidio, and you never know who you're gonna meet. So you get out and mingle, and just see what happens," said Ferguson.
The summit will continue Friday morning at UTEP, then everyone will move across the border to Ciudad Juarez in the afternoon for the second part of the meeting.
Saturday morning will be the final event, the U.S. Mexico International 10K run which will begin in El Paso and end in Ciudad Juarez.