Tijuana: From Manufacturing to Green Technology HubWed, 02/19/2014 - 14:28
California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) is very ambitious, with a mandate for 33% of the state’s energy consumption to come from renewable resources by 2020. Tijuana, California’s southern neighbor, is eyeing the opportunity of becoming a green technology hub. David Mayagoitia, President and founding member of the Tijuana Economic Development Corporation (DEITAC), believes the region has the potential to become something similar to Hong Kong and Shenzhen in the next 10 years: “Between Tijuana and Los Angeles you can buy anything in the world, plus we have great human resources and lots of binational, bicultural, and bilingual human talent. We have proximity to our clients, quick response times, and cost competitiveness with Chinese prices, but without the issues associated with being located in China, such as transportation, communication, or intellectual property.”
Tijuana is one of the largest medical device manufacturers in North America, and Mayagoitia argues that if San Diego and Tijuana united their medical device clusters, the binational region might be the largest medical device manufacturer in the world. “Tijuana has always been very successful in electronics and around 27 million TV sets are assembled locally a year. We are also leaders in the aerospace industry. Everybody talks about Queretaro but there are twice as many people employed in aerospace companies here than there are in Quertaro, about 13,000 people. Because of Mexicali, Baja California is a powerhouse in aerospace,” says Mayagoitia.
DEITAC’s 2010-2015 strategic plan consists of traditional promotion to attract investment, building better links with San Diego, and increasing the level of manufacturing in the region. Mayagoitia believes that contract manufacturing is the new trend, and that it will continue for the next 20 years. “More and more companies will shift from single name manufacturing to multiple brand manufacturing,” he says. On the other hand, DEITAC fosters innovation through Ignitus, the entrepreneurial program certified by CONACYT, which already has an incubation model with support from the Ministry of Economy. Mayagoitia is a believer in the potential of the Mexican-American border region, and emphasizes that the six Mexican border states and the six US border states combined have a population of 90 million people and form the world’s sixth largest economy, with Tijuana-San Diego as the capital of this region. The area with the biggest potential for renewables in Baja California is Mexicali, because of its high level of solar irradiation and the fact that it is close to La Rumorosa, where wind farms are starting to be developed. Mayagoitia stresses the importance of renewables as a way to supply clean, affordable, and reliable electricity and an opportunity to attract companies like Google and Yahoo, whose huge server centers position them among the largest electricity consumers in the world, with large amounts of capital to spend. He quotes the example of Imperial County, right across the border from Mexicali, which has attracted US$5.3 billion for renewable energy projects in the last three years. But before that happens, there is still an unflattering perception challenge that Tijuana has to overcome. “Tijuana has 23 violent crimes per 100,000 inhabitants, which is lower than New Orleans, Washington DC and Detroit, and our challenge is to raise awareness about the relative safety of Tijuana. This is a battle that we are not going to win overnight, but there are 600 companies currently manufacturing successfully in Tijuana. They are the city’s best spokespersons,” Mayagoitia concludes.