By Ramón Valade
Pima County Supervisor, District 2
Mexico has been Arizona’s most valuable and essential international economic partner throughout our state’s history, and especially for Pima County and Southern Arizona.
The majority of your Pima County Supervisors and the county administration have advocated for improving and increasing our economic relationship with Mexico, especially the states of Sonora and Sinaloa, and the City of Nogales.
The economic setback caused by the Great Recession, and the difficulty we have had recovering from it, only serve to demonstrate the vital need to diversify our economy. We can no longer rely on growth and tourism and a few major employers like Raytheon and the University of Arizona. We must expand our region’s other economic strengths including logistics, defense, aerospace and technology manufacturing.
The area surrounding Tucson International Airport is unique in the Southwestern United States in that is has a nexus of air, rail and ground transportation infrastructure that is coveted by companies seeking an edge in the global economy. Pima County is working with nearly every jurisdiction in the region to develop the area, called the Sonoran Corridor, as an economic catalyst for Southern Arizona.
Our economic relationship with Northern Mexico is a vital part of our county’s economic resurgence. Last month, I accompanied members of the county’s Economic Development Office on a visit to Nogales, Sonora, to continue building that relationship.
We met with Sonora Maquiladora Association members to discuss supply chain and logistics synergies between Southern Arizona and Northern Sonora.
The association represents nearly 100 maquiladoras and affiliates in Sonora. Association leaders told us in 2015 that long supply chains and logistics deficiencies are among their biggest challenges. The Sonoran Corridor initiative will prove a major supply chain boon for those manufacturers.
Also during the trip, I met with the Port Director at the Mariposa Port of Entry, which sees more than $21 billion in product transfers north and south every year. The county has partnered with CBP, the town of Nogales, Santa Cruz County and others throughout the state to lobby the State Transportation Board to expand state highway 189, which connects the Mariposa port to Interstate 19. The current highway is a major choke point for the port.
Pima County’s economy is growing stronger by the month. Our economic relationship with Mexico is a key contributor to that growth as well as in sustaining that growth. I will be working every day to help grow our economy, provide good jobs to our region and to keep our relationship with Mexico strong.