Two Sonora cities have been recognized in a prestigious international publication as top 10 "small cities of the future" for their business climate.
The port city of Guaymas came in at number 2 and Nogales at number 4 for cost effectiveness in the ranking by FDI Intelligence, which tracks foreign direct investment around the globe.
For their ability to attract foreign investments - namely, in manufacturing - Guaymas and Nogales ranked ninth and 10th, respectively.
The growth of Mexico's economy in recent years has been fueled by activity in Sonora and the growth of manufacturing jobs.
"It is such an honor," said Walter De Cima, director of economic development for Guaymas. "We continue to seek ways to facilitate new business so we don't lose momentum."
The city is about to roll out expedited permitting for new businesses, and the port is set to double in size, De Cima said.
Last year was a pivotal one for the city as the Port of Guaymas began receiving and shipping international cargo, and Rolls-Royce opened a global purchasing office.
Commercial investment in the past year includes the construction of Home Depot, Walmart, Sam's Club and Holiday Inn Express.
"Our city leaders have made it clear that we must work very hard to maintain the confidence that businesses have shown in our city," De Cima said.
In Nogales, Home Depot, Sam's Club and Santa Fe Supermarket have built new shops in the past year and the industrial parks are attracting manufacturing clients, said Manuel Hopkins Ruiz, the city's director of economic development.
"It's such a sense of satisfaction to be recognized at that level," he said. "It's a nod to all the work we've done."
One fiber-optics data-sharing company is readying to move to Nogales, Hopkins said.
"It's because of what we can offer - space, infrastructure and labor," he said.
Eight Fortune 500 companies now have operations in Nogales, and the city's population is expected to reach 1 million within 10 years.
FDI Intelligence said there was a 16 percent decline in foreign direct investment in 2012, and attracting those type of projects will require creativity.
"Cities in Mexico, Colombia and Chile are offering a more competitive deal than ever to entice potential investors," the magazine said. "With global FDI figures declining, investment-promotion agencies will need to understand the changing landscape and offer investors information on advantages unique to their location in order to stand out from the crowd."
Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at email@example.com or 573-4232.