According to Director Gerónimo Gutiérrez, the North American Development Bank (NADBANK) has invested $1.2 billion in 155 projects on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border since its inception in 1994. NADBANK is jointly funded by the U.S. and Mexican governments, and was created by NAFTA 20 years ago “with a purpose of helping both governments to have a tool to protect, preserve and enhance the environment and the quality of life of border communities.”
The city of Nuevo Laredo has been the second-leading recipient of funding from the bank, after Tijuana. Two years ago, a project funded by NADBANK and run by the city’s public works department paved 55 street miles in the city. Most projects target basic services, from street paving to sewer systems. And thanks to new sewage plants, now 85 percent of raw water is treated, compared to 27 percent pre-NAFTA.
NADBANK funding has also brought drinking water and other services to Nuevo Laredo. Over the last four months, the bank has organized a series of workshops for water treatment operators in eight Mexican border cities. At a training workshop in a Nuevo Laredo plant this month, the bank brought in expert Roberto Parra from Monterrey Institute of Technology to lead the course. The bank funded projects in 2010 and 2011 worth $111 million and two new ones this year provide an additional $40 million infusion.
Many residents scattered in various neighborhoods across this city of nearly 400,000 people said they have seen and felt the impact. “It just gave us a better sense of place. We felt a bit more proud to live here and say we’re from here,” said Blanca Velázquez, referring to the recent paving project.