Working Together for GrowthFri, 12/01/2017 - 10:32
Q: How has Queretaro’s manufacturing sector and aerospace in particular grown in jobs, projects and investment?
A: Queretaro’s manufacturing sector is growing quickly. We achieved and surpassed our goals in terms of employment for 2016. We expected to create a total of 30,000 new jobs across all manufacturing sectors and we closed the year with 36,000. The aerospace sector represents between 8,000 to 10,000 direct jobs in Queretaro, a large proportion of the total especially for a highly advanced industry with many automated positions.
FDI also increased in 2016, as gauged by the Ministry of Economy’s new strategy to measure foreign investment. This new scheme no longer considers existing companies’ reinvestment in Mexico, only new investments. The new methodology reports FDI in the state growing from US$2.7 million in 2015 to US$8.7 million in 2016. We have announced at least three new investments per month during 2017, representing both new plant openings and expansions. Duqueine, for example, began construction at the end of May 2017 to supply Safran’s plants in Queretaro.
The state is competing for six aerospace investment projects. In February 2017, Safran announced the construction of its sixth plant with a US$70 million investment, which will be opened around November this year. The plant is now hiring personnel to fill the 400 new jobs created. The two main aerospace investments we expect in 2017 are the opening of Safran Albany and CENTA.
Q: What is the building status of CENTA and what will the center’s capabilities be once it begins operations?
A: This project is the result of a joint effort between the federal and local governments. The building’s construction has been finalized but its equipment still needs to be bought. We expect CENTA’s official inauguration to be in November but the facilities are already operational. In 2015, Queretaro’s government invested MX$25 million (US$1.3 million) through CONACYT’s mixed funds (fondos mixtos) to finish the acquisition of equipment, topping up a total investment of MX$50 million (US$2.5 million). CENTA is incubating a Mexican aerospace startup called Horizontec and a local company developing an aircraft, which is in its flight-testing stage. The center will begin developing R&D projects for materials testing, aero structures and studying material-structure interactions. Once the center is officially open it will be part of Queretaro’s aero cluster and support existing companies in the state.
Q: In which projects is SEDESU supporting Queretaro’s aerospace cluster?
A: We have several collaborations alongside the Queretaro Aerocluster, including supporting Mexican startups through the certification process. We are also helping the cluster to map Queretaro’s aerospace companies with clear information on processes and materials, to be able to link companies with one another. With our support, the cluster is also developing programs for aerospace SMEs, which face significant entry barriers such as acquiring the necessary certifications to manufacture for the sector. Working alongside the cluster makes the process much more efficient.
Q: What is your long-term vision for Queretaro’s aerospace sector and what is necessary to achieve it?
A: We expect Queretaro to continue attracting large foreign companies. The environment is conducive to the growth of local startups. We are working with UNAQ so the university can accelerate growth and incubate new companies within its facilities. In 2017, Queretaro’s government invested approximately MX$100 million in equipment for UNAQ, which will increase the university’s training capabilities and promote local R&D. Queretaro’s strengths are in component manufacturing and MRO services, especially in TechOps Mexico and Safran facilities. The state and the country must focus on developing local suppliers, which has successfully been done for the automotive sector. The aerospace sector must also generate a network of specialized suppliers.