Inland Port Drives Guanajuato Industry GrowthMon, 09/01/2014 - 14:17
Q: Since the establishment of the industrial park, how successful have you been in attracting companies here?
A: During the first two years, we focused on planning and infrastructural development. The airport was already in place, as were the railroad and the highway running past the industrial park, but there was still some infrastructure that needed to be developed. We needed a new 150KW 30km power line from Silao. We set up a trust to safeguard the relevant external and internal infrastructure for the park with a private industrial developer called Lintel. In accordance with the trust, Lintel developed the infrastructure inside the industrial park including streets, water and sewage connections, lighting systems, and power lines. Next was the development of the logistical complex. We signed an agreement with Ferromex to run an intermodal cargo platform, and the government assigned 40 hectares of land to the customs office. Six years ago, we sold the first plot of land to Faurecia, a French company. Today, we have 74 companies in the park representing a committed investment of more than US$250 million and 15,000 jobs. This growth has been to a large degree driven by our close connection with the Japanese investment community. In 2009, we went to an aerospace event in Tokyo, and we recognized the opportunity to start working with Japanese companies. We started working with Honda and Mazda, which led us to triple our customer base during 2011 to 2013. Today, we have 35 Japanese companies in the park and a total of 44 automotive companies, making up 173,000m2 of automotive industry space. 15 more companies have announced investments in the park, representing an investment of US$377 million. Our goal is to reach an almost complete occupancy rate in the park with 120 companies and 25,000 jobs by 2018, and we expect most of this growth to come from Japanese automotive companies.
Q: What are the main advantages of setting up operations in central Guanajuato?
A: Unfortunately, the northern border states are not as safe as the central ones. This is one of the main reasons why the central area of the country, from Queretaro to Aguascalientes, has become the most important automotive cluster for Mexico. Just as once happened with Detroit, Alabama, and Kentucky in the US, the entire central region is now blooming. The infrastructure in the central part of Mexico was underdeveloped in the past but it is now strong. Monterrey is already crowded and the costs there are very high. Salary rates here are lower and we have a very young population to fuel the workforce. Perhaps in 20 years, the boom will move on to a different location, but the Bajio region will be the most important automotive investment destination for the next decade.
Q: Is the young population in this region really right to fill the ranks of the automotive workforce?
A: Absolutely, since automotive companies need people that can be trained and we have a lot of easily trainable talent here. In the past, a lot of people from Guanajuato left for the US. We had the third highest level of migration of any Mexican state, but we have now fallen to tenth as people are staying here to work. The city of Leon historically had a very strong leather industry but many of the workers from that industry are now moving to the automotive industry. In the last eight years, the state of Guanajuato has also invested in developing technical courses in universities. There are 27 new universities, and the budget of the state is focused on developing technicians and engineers across these institutions.