Newsroom | Arizona and Sonora Leaders Explore Binational Opportunities During 10th Annual Ari-Son Council Meeting

MAG News

Leaders from Arizona and Sonora showcase cross-border economic development.

Leaders from Arizona and Sonora showcase cross-border economic development


United by more than just the Sonoran Desert, Arizona and the state of Sonora, Mexico, share more similarities than differences. Connected by people who share the experience of having families across the border and by the rich culture and history of both regions, Arizona and Sonora also share the bond of being part of one of the most important economic corridors in the world. 

Recognizing Regional Opportunities for Growth

Leaders from both sides of the border recognized those opportunities and gathered at the 10th Annual Ari-Son Council meeting in Tucson. They were there to further the dialogue to bring economic development and prosperity to both regions by focusing on manufacturing, imports and exports, education, and tourism. 

“Everybody, I think, gained a lot from listening to what is going on in everyone’s communities,” said Glendale Councilmember and Economic Development Committee (EDC) Chair Ray Malnar, who was also the master of ceremonies of the event.

ARI-SON 2023 Attendees

Progress as Partners: Coming Together for a Shared Prosperity 

The Ari-Son Council is a unique opportunity where more than 100 leaders from the two nations come together to exchange ideas and open the dialogue to further the success of both countries as neighbors. Phoenix Mayor and MAG Chair Kate Gallego provided welcoming remarks to the attendees, highlighting both regions' great progress as partners, especially by working together over the years to amplify the investment opportunities both Sonora and Arizona have.

“Mexico, especially the state of Sonora, is our number one trade and tourism partner,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. “Our strong collaboration – supported by a decades-long Sister City relationship with Hermosillo – has led to incredible opportunities in the semiconductor manufacturing industry and small-business investments on both sides of the border. We are fortunate to have each other as partners and neighbors rooting for each other’s economic success.”

Glendale Councilmember and EDC Chair Ray Malnar presents certificates to Hermosillo Councilmember Maria Araque, and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego

Glendale Councilmember and EDC Chair Ray Malnar presents certificates to Hermosillo Councilmember Maria Araque, and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego.

Ana Maria Araque, Hermosillo Councilmember and delegate for Mayor Antonio Astiazaran, said the partnership is important to both communities.

“We are constantly working in economic development and sharing best practices that benefit both of our cities.” 

Tourism and Manufacturing 

During the Ari-Son meeting, a roundtable on tourism and advanced manufacturing highlighted key opportunities for both nations.

“I think it’s very important to bring all the elected officials from both Sonora and Arizona together so we can understand fully what is being done in our individual regions and our states, so we can better collaborate together for future projects and future opportunities,” said El Mirage Mayor Alexis Hermosillo.

Felipe Garcia introducing panelists Juan Francisco Gim, Alexis Hermosillo, Donald Huish, and Javier Lamarque.

Felipe Garcia introduces panelists Mayor Juan Francisco Gim, Mayor Alexis Hermosillo, Mayor Donald Huish, and Mayor Carlos Javier Lamarque Cano.

Mexico has historically been Arizona’s top trading partner. According to the University of Arizona, in 2022, the state’s exports to Mexico increased by 7 percent to reach their highest level since 2015 – totaling $8.7 billion. Almost one-third of all Arizona exports were destined for Mexican markets, including key states like Sonora.


Nogales (Sonora) Mayor Juan Francisco Gim agreed that Arizona and Sonora could continue growing economic ties regarding nearshoring. “We have the privilege of being connected with the United States, the biggest economic corridor on the planet. If we don’t take advantage of this, nearshoring opportunities will say ‘goodbye.’” 

A key message during the Ari-Son Council meeting this year was to amplify the importance of continuing to promote such investments. Elected officials agreed that both neighbors' investment in infrastructure and workforce is fundamental.

Ray Malnar presents certificates to Consul of Mexico (in Tucson) Rafael Barceló Durazo and U of A Assistant Vice President Justin Dutram.

Ray Malnar presents certificates to Consul of Mexico (in Tucson) Rafael Barceló Durazo and U of A Assistant Vice President Justin Dutram.

“Arizona and Sonora have a great potential for attracting more investments and better-paying jobs. This meeting highlights the best methods we can continue to push for nearshoring that can bring manufacturing back to this region in North America. This is of great economic interest for our region, of course,” said the Consul of Mexico in Tucson, Rafael Barcelo.

“Those who do business with Hermosillo have attested that during the last two years, we have improved security. We have historical levels of investment in infrastructure, we have simplified business opening processes, we have committed to sustainability,” said Ana Maria Araque.

Collaboration Is Key

The Consul General of Mexico in Phoenix, Jorge Mendoza Yescas, has witnessed the progress of the Ari-Son Council over the years. 

“The Ari-Son Council meeting constitutes a very reliable space of encounter between Arizona and Sonora local representatives,” he said, noting that the states will continue to support each other in the years to come. “In the end, local governments represent the whole social and economic reality of this binational region. What better way than to have MAG to coordinate and provide the meeting space between all these representatives? This effort is essential to the integration between our region’s governments and its inhabitants.”

Participants said that the most important takeaway from the 10th Ari-Son Council meeting is the ongoing recognition that collaboration is key. 

“It was really amazing to hear all the work that is being done regionally between Arizona and Sonora, and I am looking forward to all the relationships that will continue to be built and all of the projects and all of the things we can create together,” said Mayor Hermosillo.

ARI-SON Group Photo

Published September 22, 2023