PHOENIX — Mayors from throughout the state shared a stage Friday to tell Arizona businesses about a new effort to encourage cross-border manufacturing opportunities.
The mayors of Tucson, Phoenix, Mesa and Nogales encouraged businesses on both sides of the border to list their information in the Arizona-Sonora Resource Guide, to be published later this year.
The guide is a joint project of the Arizona Daily Star and the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and is sponsored by the cities of Tucson, Nogales, Ariz., and Nogales, Sonora., Cushman & Wakefield/Picor, Global Advantage, The Offshore Group, the University of Arizona Tech Park and Ernst & Young.
As it stands, there is a lack of knowledge about what products and services are available in the two-state region, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said at the event. The result, he said, has been missed opportunities.
“There really is no need to wait for parts to come from the Midwest or the East Coast when those same parts can come from Tucson, Phoenix, Mesa or Nogales,” he said.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton called the guide “a necessary thing for our future, which is to build the strongest trade relationships we can with businesses and people of Mexico.”
Mesa Mayor Scott Smith conceded that there have been “hiccups” in relations between Arizona and its southern neighbor. Problems flared up most recently in 2010 with the passage of SB1070, the tough immigration law many saw as targeting Hispanics.
“We don’t need to dwell on those because we’re talking about the future,” Smith said. “The fact is that we are tied very closely historically, culturally and, yes, economically.”
The resource guide is designed to be a single point for those looking for products and services. Businesses can register for a free listing until Jan. 31 at www.arizona-sonora.com. Copies will probably sell in the $50 to $60 range, said THCC President Lea Marquez Peterson.
Rothschild acknowledged that, by itself, a guide does not remove all hurdles to cross-border trade.
He pointed out that the federal government is completing a $184 million expansion project at the Mariposa Port of Entry to help alleviate a transit “bottleneck,” creating up to 20 lanes for traffic, but it needs more customs and border officers to inspect vehicles and move them through the port.
“That is a congressional issue; that is a federal issue,” Rothschild said. He said the mayors have appealed to the Obama administration and the congressional delegation for more staffing dollars.
Another issue is that once truck traffic clears the port of entry — with the facility’s 20 lanes — it is funneled onto State Route 189, which has just two lanes. That project is the responsibility of the Arizona Department of Transportation.
“There is an urgency to getting those two things done,” Rothschild said. “But I think we can.”
Smith, echoing a recent campaign theme, said he believes the funds for the road-widening project will become available once everyone involved makes it a priority.