Baja California is open for business, was the message delivered this week at a discussion hosted by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.
And any potential investor concerned about security should be aware it’s not the No. 1 issue in the state, according to both federal and state officials.
“I think the topic of security is an important one because we need to demonstrate that it’s not the No. 1 issue when it comes to economic challenges facing our region,” said David Saul Guakil of the federal Economy Secretariat.
Concerns about security have not stopped development in the state, according to information provided by the state government. Seven U.S.-based hotels will be built in Tijuana over the next two years, the number of foreigners living in the state has grown by 4,000 in eight years and about US $1.75 billion is being invested along the border between Tijuana and Otay Mesa.
The state is home to 87 industrial and business parks and firms in the automotive, electronics, textile, renewable energy and aerospace industries, the latter being among the largest with 87 companies and more than 30,000 employees.
Medical device manufacturing is next with 66 firms and more than 50,000 employees.
Both sectors received a boost last month when federal and state delegations traveled to the Paris Air Show, bringing back news of $142 million in investments.
Among them: $40 million by Hutchinson Aerospace in Ensenada, $35 million by Esterline Aerospace in Tijuana and $9 million by the Triumph Group in Mexicali. As well, medical products manufacturer Essilor will invest $40 million in Tijuana.
Another Baja plus touted by officials is the age and education level of the work force: 66% of the population is under 34 and there are 51 universities graduating 90,000 students a year, of whom 22,000 are engineering majors.
Not all those graduates are looking for jobs. Through a federal program offering grants and special loans, they are being encouraged to start their own businesses. Another offers loans to young adults who have no credit.
Loan programs are also available to established companies to enable them to grow and increase exports of goods and services.
The state’s Economic Development Secretary says most people don’t know what’s happening in Baja California.
Gabriel Cabañas said the best method he knows of to introduce foreign executives to the state is to have them visit. For them, he says, it’s an eye-opener to see what is being done in the manufacturing plants and the level of commitment and quality that can be seen.