HERMOSILLO, Sonora — The governors of Arizona and Sonora announced Friday that they will jointly travel to Israel to support an effort to recruit technology companies to the region with complementary resources on both sides of the border.
The effort, called Global Advantage, is a partnership between the University of Arizona Tech Parks and The Offshore Group. It will offer companies the opportunity to set up research and development in the Tucson tech park with manufacturing capabilities in Sonora at one of the manufacturing sites owned by Tucson-based Offshore.
Gov. Jan Brewer and Gov. Guillermo Padres were all smiles when the announcement of the partnership was made during a private meeting Friday afternoon. And, they both accepted the invitation to travel to Israel and meet with companies that have expressed an interested in becoming Global Advantage clients.
“Something of this magnitude can become a footprint for other companies to follow,” Brewer said. “I enthusiastically accept the invitation. Congratulations.”
Padres was equally pleased.
“The theme of bilateral cooperation has been talked about and talked about,” he said. “Now we’re actually operating as a region. Now we’re working as a team.”
The governors’ visit will make a big impression, said Bruce Wright, associate vice president of Tech Parks Arizona.
“It makes a statement,” he said. “Two governors from a binational region is a big deal.”
Global Advantage is a novel concept between two states in neighboring countries, Wright said.
A group of representatives recently made an outreach trip to Israel, met with several Israeli technology companies and briefed them on the program, he said. Two have already scheduled site visits to the region; one will be in Tucson next week.
The Israeli market is a target for the program because it is a small country with a lot of tech startups, Wright said.
He said that in Tel Aviv alone there are 600 tech startups.
“It’s a real opportunity because it’s a relatively small country where we could build a presence,” Wright said.
“The world is really fascinated by Mexico right now,” he added. “Israel is interested in building relations with Mexico, and Tucson can be the launch pad.”
Eduardo Saavedra, executive vice president of business development for Offshore, said Israel is looking for opportunities to manufacture without creating a manufacturing sector itself.
“Israelis make a lot of products in China so our appeal is manufacturing and a gateway to the U.S.,” he said. “We are hopeful we have discovered a niche.”
Naomi Weiner, project coordinator of the Israel Business Development Initiative, arranged the visits in Israel by looking for companies that were working on technology for aerospace, defense and renewable and solar energy because that aligns with the strengths in Arizona and Sonora.
The UA Tech Park is the largest research park along the U.S.-Mexico border with 2 million square feet of office and laboratory space and 7,000 workers.
The Offshore Group operates 4 million square feet of manufacturing facilities in Sonora and in Saltillo, Coahuila, and employs 16,000 workers.
Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild has been working with the Tech Park to spur investment in Tucson and establish business relations in Mexico. He was pleased to hear of the governors’ endorsement of the Global Advantage.
“This is a perfect example of the sort of partnership that we need to see more of,” Rothschild said. “A partnership without borders that benefits both the citizens of Arizona and the citizens of Sonora.”