YOU ARE HERE: IVPress HomeCollections

Summit: Border areas need each other for growth

February 08, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — The need to work together and promote regionally to develop the Imperial and Mexicali valleys economically was the main message at the California-Mexico Border Economic Summit here Wednesday.

Louis Fuentes, executive director of the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corp., said the purpose of the summit was to bring together business and government leaders from both sides of the border to discuss economic development on a regional basis.

"We're trying to promote the region and get a better feel for what everybody is doing in their own efforts to reach that goal," he said.

The IVEDC was the summit's main sponsor.

"By forming alliances we can promote the region effectively," Fuentes said.

The summit included presentations from officials from both sides of the border.

Two of the speakers were Sergio Tagliapietra, president of the Mexicali Industrial Development Commission, and Chuck Nathanson, executive director of San Diego Dialogue.


Nathanson discussed the recently completed San Diego Dialogue report Forum Fronterizo

"We think that this region is a poster child for globalization," he said.

Nathanson defined globalization as a rapid growth of everything, the rise of regions, the collapse of hierarchies, economic liberalization and the rule of law, growing wealth and growing inequality, migration and growth and the mobility of capital.

"Capital has a way of finding opportunities very, very quickly and moving to them before regions are prepared for it," he said. "Capital moved very quickly to Tijuana in the 1980s … very quickly in the last five years to Mexicali. It could move equally quickly to Imperial. Part of this moving quickly to somewhere is also moving quickly away from somewhere if it doesn't work."

The purpose of Forum Fronterizo was to answer questions related to how the cross-border region can best engage the new global system.

Findings and conclusions include a need to rethink what is meant by region, regional trade infrastructure is critical, more effective regional planning is required to meet the region's infrastructure challenges, the future of manufacturing in the region is not guaranteed, that governance and the public finance in the region need to be strengthened, that social networks can play an important role in expanding opportunity and that we are not educating our children to meet the standards of global competition.

Nathanson said the solutions to being competitive in the global economy are the availability of long-term, low-interest credit and the elimination of competition among California cities for economic development through a fundamental change in how the cities get their revenues, through sales taxes.

Tagliapietra discussed what Mexicali might look like in 2020. He said goals include making the city the most important industrial center in the country and the most important commercial area in North America under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

To achieve those goals, Tagliapietra said Mexicali must improve its infrastructure, attract and retain foreign investment, improve housing, form and develop entrepreneurship, improve education, stimulate the transfer of technology, improve the physical environment, improve public security and improve working conditions.

"By doing this we are going to improve our population's quality of life," he said.

Tagliapietra estimated the number of maquiladoras will grow to 480 by 2020 from 196 today. Mexicali maquiladora employment has increased to 63,797 today from 32,863 in 1996, or about 12,000 jobs yearly in recent years.

Despite such growth, Tagliapietra said economic conditions in the United States have an immediate effect on the maquiladora industry as this nation is the most important customer of the maquiladoras.

IVEDC's Fuentes closed the morning session by saying the bottom line is the improvement of the region's quality of life.

"We are at a time where alliances are very important," he said.

Other presentations were made by Tom Topuzes, IVEDC board member; Juan Antonio Martinez, secretary of economic development for Baja California; Chris Campaña, deputy secretary of the California Technology, Trade and Commerce Agency; Kristen Aliotti, director of the state Office of California-Mexico Affairs; and Yolanda Jimenez, director of special projects for the governor of Baja California.

The master of ceremonies was IVEDC president Lanny Foote.

The more than 100 participants were welcomed by Imperial County supervisors Chairman Tony Tirado and president of the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors, Andy Horne.

The summit was at the Mexport Business Center, Los Alamos Business Park near the Calexico East Port of Entry. A tour of maquiladoras and a reception followed the summit.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles