How United Brownsville Is Transforming the Border Economy

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That is the crux of the BiNED strategy: to transform our pass-through economy to an investment-driven, integrated binational economy focused on manufacturing. The key to higher-paying jobs and a more stable and equitable economy is to increase our capacity to export, especially through advanced manufacturing. “We’re trying to change the dynamics and change the quality of life in our region. It’s an opportune time to do it. We have a very young population. We have a bilingual, bi-literate and bicultural advantage,” said Alan J. F. Artibise, Provost at the University of Texas-Brownsville. “All those things could be put to good advantage if we can combine the Rio Grande Valley and northern Mexico region as an integrated manufacturing sector that moves up the value chain, instead of competing strictly on low wages..”Untitled-3

 

‘MEXICO IS OUR PARTNER’

The basic tenet of BiNED is that the long-term solution to illegal immigration and insecurity is the creation of a prosperous and secure border through shared economic development.

“Our future hinges on leveraging our relationship with our border city partners” said Miguel Gonzalez, Executive Director of United Brownsville. “As Chinese wages increase above Mexican wages, and energy costs make the cost of transporting Chinese products more expensive, there is a tremendous advantage for nearshoring and reshoring of manufacturing capacity from Asia to the US and Mexico, and to the border region”.

Additionally, the advent of product customization and the pressure for shorter production times provides additional incentives for increased manufacturing capacity on the border. All these factors point to a greater opportunity for our border to prosper.

“Part of the problem is we don’t have the leverage by ourselves,” said one contributor of the group supporting the BiNED initiative. “We need to continue to bring our Mexicans partners on board. And start changing the perception of Mexico from a challenge to an opportunity”.

 

“It’s an opportune time to do that because all the funds invested in border security won’t solve all the problems. And in many ways we’ve reached a point of diminishing returns in terms of investing in traditional border control measures such as fences and more boots on the ground. Those funds should instead be invested in promoting economic development on the border”.

Representatives from south of the border agree the time to act is now.

“We are working  closely with United Brownsville on the BiNED initiative,” said Danny Texiera, who works with Cardone in Harlingen, and is the vice president of Index Matamoros, the maquiladora association in Matamoros. “Not only with United Brownsville, but also with other local entities and businesses.”

“Index Matamoros represents 117 manufacturing companies located in the city of Matamoros. We are an industry group that represent the city of Matamoros,” Texeira said. “There are between 55-60,000 direct and about 15-20,000 indirect jobs created by manufacturing companies in Matamoros.”

“One of the things we’re working with United Brownsville is the backward integration of our supply chain,” Texeira said. “We (Matamoros maquilas) are  producing in excess of $8 billion in output per year,” Texeira said. “But approximately 80% of that output is produced from components imported from outside the region. The challenge for the region is how to produce those inputs locally.”