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Arizona and Sonora, Mexico, share opportunities to strengthen the economies of both states. The 9th Annual Ari-Son Council Meeting demonstrated how much the two states need and depend on each other for success.

Economic Growth, Mexico, Sonora, Ari-Son Council

Two countries, two states, separated by one border with many things in common. Arizona and Sonora, Mexico, share the same border, climate, and similar industries. They also share opportunities to strengthen the economies of both states.

The 9th Annual Ari-Son Council Meeting demonstrated how much the two states need and depend on each other for success. The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) hosted the 2022 Ari-Son conference in September. It marked the first time in two years that leaders from both sides of the border had the opportunity to be in the same room together.

The meeting in Glendale brought together governmental and economic leaders from Arizona and Sonora to discuss new projects and initiatives that are helping to revive both states’ economies after the pandemic.

“For me, this meeting was electrifying,” said Glendale City Councilmember Ray Malnar, and vice chair of the MAG Economic Committee. “To have all the members of the local communities, as well as communities from Sonora, get together and have a collaboration of economic development, of the workforce, of tourism, it really brings things together, makes it very real, I think, for everyone,” he said.

Big opportunities

One project that is drawing attention from both sides of the border is the large-scale redevelopment being made to the port of Guaymas, Sonora. With those improvements, and the construction of a 100 km (62.1 miles) highway between Guaymas and northern Chihuahua state, businesses will have an alternative way to bring goods into the United States and avoid long delays at the port of Los Angeles. Arizona cities would benefit from the increased port access. Glendale has completed 22 million square feet (505 acres) of warehouse space along Loop 303.

“I really see the 22 million square feet needing a lot of support for incoming products and raw materials,” said Malnar.  “If they can expedite that through Guaymas, I’m telling you, that could be an economic boon for both cities.”

Ari-Son Council 9th Annual Meeting Speakers at podium

Millions of jobs

Glendale isn’t the only city depending on a boost from Sonora. Nearly 5 million jobs in the U.S. rely on Mexico. Events like the Ari-Son Council meeting are critical for enhancing understanding of how the two regions can support each other and create economic development opportunities on both sides of the border.

Arturo Fernández Díaz González is a project manager with Invest Sonora EDC. He says Ari-Son is a chance to forge a greater link between local governments and the private sector.

“Companies in the private sector need this to find those opportunities, either for Mexican companies to find these opportunities and possibly investors – and the collaboration with companies on the American side of the border,” he noted.

Ari-Son Council 9th Annual Meeting slide presenter

Eliminating wait times

Making it easier for products to move across the border is one piece of the puzzle to strengthen the economies of Arizona and Sonora. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and the Secretaría de Infraestructura y Desarrollo Urbano (SIDUR) are working together to speed up the time it takes for goods to get from the port of Guaymas to their destinations in the United States. The steps taken include:

  • Commerce and safety increased in and around ports of entry.
  • Making needed improvements to some ports of entry while reconstructing the DeConcini Port of Entry in Nogales.
  • Creating online permitting for trucks coming across the border – a move that cut wait times from 20 minutes to 25 seconds.
  • Constructing a 100 km highway from Guaymas to northern Chihuahua state.
Ari-Son Council 9th Annual Meeting 2022 with Arizona and Sonora mayors

Collaboration is key

A shared climate. Mutual business interests. The desire for success on both sides of the border. These were common themes among the presenters at this year’s Ari-Son Council Meeting. One woman who knows all about that success is Ana María Araque Castellanos. She is a city council member in Hermosillo, Sonora, but she also has served in the Economic Development Office of the City of Phoenix in northern Mexico.

“These kinds of events are necessary,” she said. “It is the best way to put people at the table, and they can really continue to share what they are doing on the other side of the border and get to know them better. And, in the end, come up with results. That is the main goal, that all the things that are talked about here get good results to both sides of the border.”

Published September 8, 2022