University leaders from Arizona and Mexico come together at ASU

Arizona and Sonora have always been neighbors, at least since 1912 technically, but beyond sharing a border the two states have also continuously strengthened their trade and overall commercial relationship. This can be seen in the daily movement of freight, along with the thriving produce trade that’s grown in Mexico and pumps life into Arizona’s economy. Another relationship builder that is beneficial to both states is higher education, especially as multiple universities continue to build out cohesive programs with each other.

To illustrate that last point, university leaders from Arizona and Sonora came together for a collective symposium to discuss the strong relationship the states have in higher education last week at Arizona State University. The Third Arizona-Mexico Colloquium featured a roundtable of Arizona university presidents hosting the presidents and rectors from Universidad de Sonora, El Colegio de Sonora, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo, and the Instituto Tecnológico de Sonora.

The colloquium aimed at bringing together ideas and initiatives from the universities’ business development and research efforts to strengthen the Arizona-Sonora region. The event also featured a series of academic sessions where faculty and university leaders discussed goals regarding transborder development.

Jessica Pacheco, president of the Arizona Mexico Commission shared her thoughts on the increasingly growing economies and relationship. Pacheco, a keynote speaker, remarked  on how Arizona and Mexico are brought together not only by geography but a rich history while also emphasizing our commercial partnerships and interdependencies.

“What is extraordinarily valuable for Arizona, the business community and the border region is the study of the dynamics along the border associated with key policy challenges – water, the movement of people, community health, infrastructure, logistics, energy, agri-business, the list goes on,” Pacheco said.

In 2017, two-way trade with Mexico hit nearly $16 billion, which brought 100,000 jobs to our state. This was due to busy ports of entry where systems such as Unified Cargo Processing are streamlining the movement of goods and services through shared ports with an emphasis on safety and efficiency in processing. Fast forward a year and trade increased 7.7 percent to nearly $17 billion as our six points of entry with Mexico saw 737 trains, 400,000 trucks, 13,000 buses, 18 million cars and 25 million people head northbound from Mexico.

Pacheco also described the importance that a solid inter-university system has in building communication and business between Arizona and Sonora.

“Over the past several years the Arizona-Mexico Commission has signed four memorandums of understanding with universities on both sides of the border, largely as a result of the work done at ASU and U of A. And there is more work being done at the community college level also,” she said. “Our universities are at the forefront of gathering, analyzing and understanding this data so both public and private sectors can make better decisions. Decisions that help create healthy vibrant communities.”

Pacheco described the sharing of intellectual property between the universities as the backbone of our strong partnership and the “basis for a bright regional future in which our people can flourish.”

“The idea of being cross-cultural, bi-lingual and well-traveled only enhances our society. We want to encourage international engagement through all the productive pathways we can develop. We want to build a better wider bridge.”

Nick Esquer

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