Note: Padres is correct on the close links, many of us still fondly
remember when the border was more or less of a formality. Before the
drug war and the waves of illegal immigration. Maybe again some day?
Economic growth, infrastructure upgrades argue for Mexican state
Visit, invest in Sonora, its governor urges
Ernesto Portillo Jr. Arizona Daily Star | Posted: Friday, November
18, 2011 12:00 am
DAVID SANDERS / ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Sonora Gov. Guillermo Padrés Elías, left, laughs with a group
including Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup, center, and Mayor-elect Jonathan
Rothschild, right, at a luncheon Thursday sponsored by the
Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau at the Hacienda
del Sol Guest Ranch Resort.
The Mexican state of Sonora wants to do more business with Arizona,
said Gov. Guillermo Padrés Elías, saying American investments will
receive a strong and safe return.
In his first official visit to Tucson since taking office two years
ago, Padrés told an audience of business and political leaders
Thursday that Sonora's economy grew 7 percent last year and is
expected to grow 5 percent this year, making the neighboring state a
logical place to invest.
The governor made little mention of the narco-violence in Mexico,
stating only that Sonora is the safest of the four Mexican states
bordering the United States. And he made no comments regarding
Arizona's legislative mandates to curb illegal immigration, which
have been attacked in Sonora, prompting calls for Sonoran visitors to
boycott the state.
Padrés' singular message was that Sonora is a great place to visit
"We want to do more business between Sonora and Arizona," said the
governor in English at the Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort.
The state of Sonora and the Mexican government are investing millions
of pesos into the state's infrastructure, making it more appealing
for private investments, Padrés told the group, which included
outgoing Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup, Mayor-elect Jonathan Rothschild and
businessman Don Diamond.
The Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau sponsored the
event, the fourth in a series of cross-border meetings between
business and government representatives, said J. Felipe Garcia, the
bureau's vice president of community affairs and Mexico marketing.
In brief remarks, Padrés outlined the economic investment
opportunities for Arizona businesses.
Sonora has launched an ambitious expansion of its water distribution
network with the building of new dams and aqueducts in and around the
capital city of Hermosillo. In addition, the state is building water
treatment plants and in the port of Guaymas, a desalinization plant,
Likewise, both Sonora and the federal government are upgrading
Mexican Highway 15 - the principal north-south route from Nogales to
the Mexican interior - and ancillary roads in the main cities of
Hermosillo, Ciudad Obregón and Guaymas.
The state has remodeled about 600 of its more than 2,000 public
schools and plans to improve others, in addition to increasing
technical and professional education programs in the state's colleges.
At the luncheon, representatives from Tucson and the state's college
system signed a cooperative agreement that will allow more Sonoran
university students to study tourism and international commerce in
"It is an expression of good will and it helps open the doors for
Arizona students to study in Sonora," said Francisco Marmolejo,
executive director of the Consortium for North American Higher
Education Collaboration, based at the University of Arizona.
In making the case for increased Arizona-Sonora trade, Mike Hammond,
who specializes in industrial and commercial real estate in Southern
Arizona and Sonora, said the long-term trends in Sonora are positive.
"Mexico, and particularly Sonora, are doing very well," said Hammond,
president of Picor, a Tucson commercial real estate company.
A new trend is developing, he added. Mexican businesses are looking
to open operations in Arizona.
The two states are inseparable, Hammond said.
That's a theme Padrés struck. Because of shared history, culture and
family ties between Sonora and Arizona, "I can't imagine Sonora
without Arizona," said Padrés.
Economically the two states are dependent on each other.
According to a UA study, more than 24 million legal visitors from
Mexico visited Arizona between July 2007 and June 2008, with 99
percent of them from Sonora. Mexican tourists spent almost $2.7
billion in that year, more than double the estimated spending in
2001, said the 2010 Eller College of Management study.
To improve the flow of Mexican products into Arizona, the Mariposa
Port of Entry in Nogales will double its capacity by early next year,
said Armando Goncalvez of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Padrés said despite political and social divisions between the two
states, Arizona and Sonora remain a common region, bound by tradition
and generations of relationships. The issues can be resolved, he added.
"We cannot ignore the border. We cannot wipe it off the map," he said.
"I can't imagine Sonora without Arizona."
Sonora Gov. Guillermo Padrés Elías
Did you know?
The port of Guaymas on the Sea of Cortez is the Sonoran-Arizona
seaport. Before the railroad came to Tucson in the 1880s, the bulk of
merchandise bound for Tucson and Southern Arizona moved through
Guaymas. Today the Mexican government is expanding the port to
receive cruise ships. There also are plans to build a cruise-ship
port in Rocky Point, where the expanded airport has increased
domestic flights and is eyeing international flights.
Ernesto Portillo Jr. can be reached at email@example.com or
Read more: http://azstarnet.com/business/local/visit-invest-in-sonora-