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Laredo (population 252,309) is among the least affluent cities in Texas, with about 30 percent of households living below the poverty line. Xochitl Mora, a spokeswoman for the municipal government, says the current slump is nothing the city can’t bounce back from. “This is not the first time that border businesses have dealt with Mexican peso devaluations, the American recession, or conversely, the oil and gas boom,” she says. “It is, as they say, the nature of the beast.”
Guerra’s not as confident. Born in the Mexican state of Nuevo León, she’s lived in Laredo for 40 years, making dresses from her home and raising three children before taking the plunge to become a small-business owner four years ago. She intends to wind down her business in May. “I started late in life, but I said, ‘I don’t care.’ And I did it,” she says. “I’m very sad that I have to close my store.”
The bottom line A South Texas city runs into two problems at once: a busted shale boom and falling purchasing power for some of its best customers.