Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read September 2021 — In an interview with Invest:, Calixto Mateos-Hanel, managing director for North American Development Bank, talked about the unique opportunities available in San Antonio and along the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as how his bank has managed the pandemic.
How has your institution grown throughout the pandemic and what lessons have you learned?
Last year was hard for everybody. I’m happy to report that we were still able to work, financing 16 projects in 2020. With the pandemic, we’ve been able to utilize the remote work capabilities that we already had established pre-pandemic. We did more projects than many other years because we worked hand in hand with communities to alleviate COVID burdens. Most projects are water and wastewater services and we make sure those municipalities are served well.
How has the North American Development Bank changed technologically and how are you supporting staff during this transition?
We adapted a hybrid schedule that allowed social distancing, although people had their own offices anyway. We saw how much it was working and decided to make it a permanent change to our schedule. Having social contact when necessary but using technology to maintain safety. Microsoft Teams was a big help to us and the pandemic just made us use it more extensively. We’re comfortable with the changes now and have gotten more integration in our offices.
What is your overview of the financial market in San Antonio?
It’s a city that has been growing a lot and it’s attracting a lot of new firms. We have a very big cybersecurity community and the investment community is quite nice.
Have you seen an uptick in demand for your services?
Yes, we have been involved a lot in renewable energy. That is also a trend that is reflected across the world in response to climate change and reducing our carbon footprint. We’re also getting into solar power and energy storage research and what methods are available. It will provide a base for a more reliable energy system.
What is your perspective on global warming and how are you reducing its impact?
Our bank was created in 1994 with the idea of taking care of the environment. It was the first green bank before there was even a term for it. Water is truly an issue because it’s limited. Because the region is growing, it increases the pressure on natural resources. Water and wastewater services and being able to reuse water and utilize rainstorm water are projects that we’re looking at. The right use of water is important and being efficient is essential to produce effective change. The desalination plant currently in El Paso is something we want to emulate in other border communities.
As a matter of background, since being created, the Bank has financed over 280 environmental infrastructure projects with loans and grants totaling more than $3.4 billion that has been leveraged to over $10.5 billion in infrastructure and benefitted in excess of 18.5 million U.S.-Mexico border residents, while improving the environment.
What unique opportunities are available in San Antonio?
San Antonio is a crossroads of cultures and business with Mexico. The region offers a binational environment, being so close to the border with Mexico. Families here have origins in Mexico and so do the businesses. Taking advantage of those connections is a great opportunity. It also provides great cultural diversity. These are great things for an investor if they would like to utilize the border.
What are some long-term initiatives that you are looking to implement?
We’re concerned about the health and well-being of people in the United States and in Mexico and along the border. We will always be involved in water projects and we’ll also do transportation and renewable projects. We’re finding ourselves asking how we can support our communities. We’re paying attention to how things are evolving and where potential scarcities in resources might be, like water and water treatment.
We will also go into the integration of green energy and production. Large industrial projects will help us get a return on investment to put back into smaller projects that improve the community infrastructure when it comes to these renewable methods.
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