Friday, October 18, 2013

Vive Guadalajara! Chamber joins Mayor Stanton delegation in Mexico's second-largest city

Greetings from Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, where I’m visiting this beautiful, culturally rich city as part of an Arizona trade delegation led by Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton to promote further trade, investment and tourism.

As a veteran of international trade delegations, nothing garners respect from the host city and country like having officials at the level of Mayor Stanton and Councilman Michael Nowakowski, who is also part of the delegation, on hand. With them and Gov. Jan Brewer’s policy adviser on Mexico and the executive director of the Arizona-Mexico Commission, Margie Emmermann, on hand, it indicates a level of seriousness that can’t be matched.

Guadalajara is Mexico’s second-largest city, the capital of Jalisco and home to over 4 million inhabitants in the metro area. The city offers a stunning array of both business and tourism opportunities. On the business side, there is a growing focus on technology, health care and bioscience, all areas of growth for Arizona, too. On the tourism side, the city is recognized as Mexico’s home of mariachi music, the state is the country’s capital of the tequila industry, and the city’s colonial architecture and legacy offers a great history lesson.

Like any big city, Guadalajara loves its sports. It’s home to the famous Mexican soccer Club Deportivo Guadalajara, more commonly known as Chivas. The team plays at the new state-of-the-art Estadio Omnilife. But other sports are big here, too, which is why it’s such a treat to have the Diamondbacks’ own Luis Gonzalez on the trip. The Dbacks and our state can’t ask for a better ambassador for baseball, sport and better cross-border relationships than Gonzo.

Luis Gonzalez presents Guadalajara Chamber of Commerce President Francisco Beckman Gonzalez with a D-Backs cap

I am pleased that Arizona Chamber board members, Jaime Molera, Mark Dobbins and Debbie Johnson were able to make the trip. Debbie heads up the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association and is a recognized leader in her industry. Debbie also chairs the Chamber’s Trade and Tourism Committee, an area we will continue to increase our focus in the coming year, especially as we seek ways to grow Arizona’s trade opportunities with our southern neighbor by improving staff levels and infrastructure in and around our land border ports. Also representing our state’s tourism interests is Sherry Henry, the executive director of the Arizona Office of Tourism.

Tourism looms large this trip as the Mexican airline Volaris begins non-stop service tomorrow to Phoenix (Oct. 19).  US Airways already offers non-stop service to the city, which is how I flew into town. The representatives from the travel and tourism industry are particularly excited that there will be increased air traffic to bring our friends from Mexico to visit Arizona, and vice-versa.  Each new flight means real new economic activity for Arizona. 

I was proud to be joined by my counterpart at the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Gonzalo de la Melena, in signing a memorandum of understanding with the Guadalajara Chamber of Commerce to promote collaboration in the areas of economic development and entrepreneurism. New air service is a great way to kick things off, but six million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Mexico, so the more we can do to cultivate links between our two countries, the better it will be for both countries’ economies.

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