The border between Mexico and the US is characterized by several sister-city pairs that partner to form five “mega-regions” of joint cooperation and industrial focus. Among them is the border region between California in the US and Baja California in Mexico, a diverse but strong industrial center with strong assets for cross-border cooperation. The CaliBaja Mega Region is prominent.
The Mega Region
The CaliBaja Mega Region has much going for it and is currently ramping up for an array of future cross-border economic activity, particularly in the manufacturing arena. It is primarily comprised of California counties, San Diego and Imperial, and the Baja California municipios of Tijuana, Tecate, and Mexicali. Mexicali, the capital of the Mexican state of Baja California is located directly adjacent to the international border, presenting a unique opportunity for local political consensus building and cross-border economic development in this mega-region that holds over 6 million inhabitants.
Several unique assets position the CaliBaja MegaRegion at the forefront of cross-border economic development, including:
- Over 90 colleges/universities and over 80 research institutes
- Innovation across numerous local industries
- A large, diverse local economy
- A robust internal infrastructure connections including 6 border crossings, 5 interstate freeways, 5 international airports, 2 specialized maritime port facilities and rail links
- Successive waves of cross-border advanced manufacturing development
A recently blossoming urban/civic renaissance in Tijuana
New advances are also currently underway to further this momentum, including a:
- $741 million investment in renovating the San Ysidro Port of Entry
- unique cross-border air terminal
- new port of entry due to begin construction in 2017
- number of other large-scale infrastructure improvements
Concentrated Industry Clusters
The CaliBaja Mega Region has several thriving industry clusters concentrated within, by far the most notable of which is the audio and video equipment manufacturing industry. According to a report released last fall by the Mexico Institute and the North American Research Partnership, the top ten most concentrated industrial cluster categories in the mega-region are:
1. Audio and Video Equipment Manufacturing
2. Medical Equipment and Supplies Manufacturing
3. Semiconductor and Other Electronic Component Manufacturing
4. Electronic and precision equipment repair and maintenance
5. Ship and boat manufacturing
6. Other Electrical Equipment and Component Manufacturing
7. Hardware Manufacturing
8. Other Miscellaneous Manufacturing
9. Manufacturing and Reproducing Magnetic and Optical Media
10. Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing
Of the top twenty most concentrated industry clusters of the mega-region, ten employ over 10,000 employees, and ﬁve of them employ over 20,000. These numbers bode well for the future cluster formation and economic viability the CaliBaja Mega Region. Manufacturing activity in Tijuana is the region’s industrial focal point.
Since receiving funding from the US Economic Development Administration (EDA) in 2008, the California counties of San Diego and Imperial launched an initiative to develop and market the bi-national mega-region strategy. With the June 2011 signing of the Memorandum of Understanding by six regional economic development organizations, the CaliBaja Mega-Region Initiative was officially born.
The agreement has since evolved into a more formal partnership among Tijuana EDC, Ensenada EDC, Economic Promotion Commission of Tecate or COPRETEC, and Industrial Development Commission of Mexicali or CDIM. It is currently funded largely through both private and public sector to continue developing cross-border cooperation and marketing the many assets contained within this vibrant and growing mega-region.