December 5, 2017
At our December Economic Development Committee (EDC) meeting, it was gratifying to hear from State Representative and former Peoria Councilmember Tony Rivero. In his role as chair of the Local and International Affairs Committee, Representative Rivero has been advocating at the Arizona Legislature for an increase in trade through awareness and joint planning efforts. He took the largest delegation in the history of Arizona to Mexico City and Guanajuato. During their visit, Representative Rivero showed the delegation the economic success Guanajuato cultivates. For several years, MAG and the EDC have, worked with Mexico to break through trade barriers. It is crucial we provide vital infrastructure that could benefit Mexico and Arizona. We appreciate Representative Rivero's grit as he continues to demonstrate to others the strong positive impact a bilateral collaboration can have on our State.
We also heard from Laura Kovacs, Assistant Executive Officer and Director of Education for the Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors®. Laura spoke to the EDC about the annual realtor's conference, MIPIM, in France. MIPIM creates business opportunities and connects 370 political leaders, most of whom are local leaders. Laura seeks our assistance in highlighting our region at the upcoming MIPIM conference. It is our intent to collaboratively work with the association to highlight the region.
Nathan Pryor reported on the progress of the Border Crossing Card (BCC) zone extension efforts. Starting with Mayor Marie Lopez-Rogers and the succeeding chairs of the EDC, after four years we continue our efforts on extending the travel limits of the BCC. We have received news the BCC pilot program will be introduced in the current legislative session. We have received support from Representative McSally and Senator McCain. We are encouraged to individually call the offices of Senator McCain and Representative McSally to thank them and show our support. We are excited about the progress of this effort. After four years of staff work, various research studies and continued support from around the state, we look forward to the pilot test of this effort. This is a great example of the determination of elected officials and staff in pursuing an objective that will benefit all of Arizona and create goodwill with Mexico.
In 2016, the Arizona House of Representatives created the Local and International Affairs Committee under the standing Transportation Committee. Representative Tony Rivero, chair of this committee, provided an update on the committee's activities. The committee focuses on local and international matters. During the 2017 session, the first Joint Sonora-Arizona Legislative Committee hearing since 1999 took place in Arizona.Senator Juan Carlos Romero Hicks, former governor of Guanajuato, and former Guatemala Presidential Candidate Juan Gutierrez visited the committee. Representative Rivero also organized a successful trade delegation to Mexico City and Guanajuato of 72 people from Arizona, including 24 state representatives and key business leaders. The visit was enlightening to participants because it showcased the dynamic economic activity occurring in Mexico. In the upcoming session, the committee will be working on legislation to establish a process for international infrastructure projects. This process will create authority for the private sector to invest in international projects.
Tourism is the leading economic activity for the state of Arizona. Visitors from Mexico who hold a border crossing card (BCC) provide significant revenue to Arizona, but are currently limited to travel within 75 miles of the Arizona-Mexico border (25 miles in the Yuma area). MAG staff provided an update on this initiative. A study by the University of Arizona reported that extending the BCC travel zone could generate up to $181 million in estimated spending annually and ease delays at the border, further increasing commerce between our two countries. MAG has been pursuing a five-year pilot project through federal legislation to allow statewide travel for border crossing card holders. Representative Martha McSally and Senator John McCain have been supportive of this initiative and legislation on this matter is currently being prepared.
The Scottsdale Area Association of REALTORS® has been participating in the MIPIM Conference in France for the past two years. The MIPIM Conference is the largest commercial real estate conference in the world. This four-day event offers access to influential people in the international real estate sector, and access to development projects and sources of capital worldwide. More than 150 mayors from other cities and countries participate in this event. Scottsdale Area Association of REALTORS® Assistant Executive Officer and Director of Education Laura Kovacs provided information regarding this event and potential partnerships. The association would like to partner with interested cities or towns on this unique exhibition and networking platform to share information about our region. Participating in MIPIM would provide cities connections with international peers, economic development opportunities, idea sharing, and connection to funding platforms.
Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) staff reported that the Arizona Mexico Commission summit took place in Rocky Point, Sonora, on November 30 and December 1, 2017. Sonora Governor Claudia Pavlovich and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey participated in the conference. ACA continues to take Arizona companies to trade shows in Mexico to increase business opportunities. ACA also has developed a relationship with the Mexican Federation of Aerospace Industry (FEMIA). This organization recently finished a supply chain assessment. The study found that there is a gap of $300 million in the Mexican aerospace supply chain industry, and FEMIA wants Arizona to fill as much of that supply chain gap as possible. This represents a big opportunity for aerospace companies in our region. ACA begins hosting an ExporTech boot camp this month that continues through February 2018. Ten companies signed up for this edition. ACA will partner with MAG to host its second ExporTech boot camp in the spring of 2018.
Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) staff commented that GPEC participated in INCmty, which was a conference in Monterrey, Mexico. INCmty is the largest entrepreneurship conference in Latin America. GPEC participated in workshops where Latin American companies learned about doing business in the U.S. and in this region. During this conference, GPEC also announced a new program in partnership with Arizona State University, the Global Growth Accelerator, which provides companies with a temporary workspace at SkySong. On December 5, 2018, GPEC hosted the Metropolitan Phoenix Export Alliance (MPEXA) Export Challenge Pitch Competition.
Mesa Vice Mayor David Luna commented that on November 30, 2017, a group of local elected officials attended the Arizona Mexico Commission (AMC) summit in Sonora, Mexico, and met with Sonoran mayors to discuss future partnerships and economic development opportunities. This was the first time local elected officials participated in the AMC annual summit. Carefree Councilmember Michael Farrar and State Transportation Board Member Jack Sellers also commented on the importance of participating in this annual event to continue building the binational relationship and bringing the Mayors together from both sides of the border.
The next meeting of the EDC will be on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, at 11:30 a.m. at the MAG Office, 302 N. First Avenue, Phoenix, second floor, Saguaro Room.
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