Tucson is a borderlands city, and our economy is strengthened by our relationship with, and proximity to, Mexico.
That holds true whatever aspect of our economy you look at, including the Five Ts of technology, trade, transportation, tourism and teaching.
Tech companies in Tucson can take full advantage of cross-border manufacturing. Many companies, especially those in the aerospace and automotive sectors, produce parts that may cross the border more than once on their way to becoming finished goods.
With research and manufacturing companies in both Tucson and Sonora, Southern Arizona and Northern Mexico have all the elements of a manufacturing megaregion—one that should continue to attract investment from our two countries and expand to attract investment from as far away as Europe, or Asia.
Trade has flourished in this region for thousands of years, and today Tucson is a gateway for companies doing business in Mexico and the United States.
Caterpillar, one of our largest new businesses, relocated here in part to be closer to its customers in Central and South America. Mexican company Suspiros Cakes opened its first U.S. location in Tucson, where it has three stores today. And Curacao and Zucarmex are two more Mexican companies that arrived in Tucson in recent years.
Transportation infrastructure has supported our prosperity as a nation since construction of the interstate highway system.
Tucson is located along major north-south and east-west corridors, including the CANAMEX corridor, I-10, I-19 and the Union Pacific rail line.
The Port of Tucson, which processes international shipments through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, greatly adds to our logistics capabilities by reducing costs for shipments coming into or going out of the United States.
This makes our region more attractive to export/import businesses. Transportation and trade are closely connected.
Tucson is a destination for tourists from across the country and around the world. Still, our largest foreign source of tourist dollars is Mexico. Whether it’s shoppers coming up for back-to-school or sports fans coming up to see Mexican baseball, Tucson owes much of our sales tax revenue to Mexican visitors.
Visit Tucson, our regional tourism agency, has worked with local hospitals to boost medical tourism, forming the Tucson Health Association. The goal is to familiarize physicians in Southern Arizona and Northern Mexico with the services available in hospitals in Arizona and Sonora, so that patients can be sure to get the care they need.
The University of Arizona and Pima Community College have relationships with educational institutions in Mexico, and cultural and educational exchanges continue to benefit faculty, students, and communities on both sides of the border. Furthermore, every time I travel to Mexico, I meet University of Arizona graduates—proud Wildcats who visit Tucson and stay in touch with their alma mater.
Tucsonans and Mexican nationals have worked together for years to build and strengthen the friendship between our two countries. Many have family members who come from, or live on, the other side of the border. It’s these personal relationships, and individual efforts, that make citizen diplomacy successful, and bilateral relations resilient.
As mayor of this city, I’ve been warmly welcomed wherever I go in Mexico, by people who know of Tucson’s opposition to SB 1070.Regardless of forces that try to exploit ignorance or fear of the “other,” Tucson stands in friendship and solidarity with our Mexican neighbors.
It’s my hope that Tucson and Mexico continue to work together for our mutual benefit, and that our friendship endures.
Jonathan Rothschild is the mayor of Tucson.