“Bring a valid passport.” It is not every conference that reminds all guests to make sure they pack their passport, but the U.S.-Mexico Border Summit is not just any conference.

The summit, which will be hosted in El Paso and Juárez Aug. 3-6, is both regional and international.

Bringing together participants from our binational, tri-state North American Borderplex as well as business and government leaders from other communities along the U.S.-Mexico border, it creates an opportunity for attendees to engage in a timely, candid conversation about the challenges and opportunities along the border and to discover opportunities for collaboration.

Structured around the theme #OneBorder, this year’s summit recognizes and builds on recent efforts by The Borderplex Alliance and leaders from other border regions, to create a broad coalition to speak with one voice about issues affecting the U.S.-Mexico border. The coalition knows that with a united voice, we can better leverage regional expertise to influence policy debates on both sides of the border.

Conference attendees will have a chance to learn more about the #OneBorder efforts and take part in helping its agenda take shape. With speakers at the summit representing business, government, and community leaders from the CaliBaja Binational Mega-Region (which spans the California/Baja California border); Arizona; New Mexico and the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, we know this summit will help to further #OneBorder’s collaborative efforts and grow its partnership opportunities.

Discussion sessions will cover a range of topics including balancing trade and security at the border, advancing innovation and entrepreneurship, developing a region or border-wide manufacturing supply chain, improving the quality of life in communities along the border, and managing life on the border in an election year.

With such timely topics driving the discourse, the summit is likely to spur creative and innovative ways we can all come together to tackle shared challenges and expand our potential.

The summit spans two full days, one in El Paso and one in Juárez, and is bookended by two sporting events – an El Paso Chihuahuas game on the evening of August 3rd and Run Internacional: The U.S.-Mexico 10K the morning of Aug. 6.

This year’s summit also marks a period of transition. After several years of successfully bringing together regional government, business, and community leaders, Congressman Beto O’Rourke – who has traditionally hosted the annual summit – is turning management of the event over to The Borderplex Alliance.

Together with Congressman O’Rourke, we understood the potential to grow the mission of the summit and use it as a platform for launching our coordinated border efforts. Of course, stepping back does not mean stepping away. Congressman O’Rourke will open the summit, serve as a key speaker, and join several events.

The Borderplex Alliance has become a leading agent promoting our regional economic development over the last several years. Thanks to the coordinated efforts of dozens – if not hundreds – of local stakeholders, the region now has a unified, local organization with its finger on the pulse of the economic and cultural life of the region.

The summit also builds off the recently launched Borderplex 2020. As readers of these pages know, after many months of consultation with local stakeholders, we finally have a regional strategic plan. The plan brings under one umbrella ambitious initiatives to foster better workforce, economic, and business development throughout the Borderplex region over the next five years.

Our region is working together to elevate the potential and greatness of the Borderplex nationally and internationally, with decision makers and investors in Austin, Washington, D.C., Mexico City, and multiple cities abroad.

I look forward to seeing you at this year’s summit and continuing to elevate the great strides our border region has been making!

The 2016 U.S.-Mexico Border Summit is free and open to the public but space is limited. To register go to www.borderplexalliance.org. Click here to register for the race.

Editor’s Note: The above guest column first appeared in the El Paso Times.