Enhancing Arizona’s economy — and in turn, Southern Arizona’s economy — will take leadership on a number of fronts.

We need more competitive tax and regulatory policies, better educational outcomes and a focus on our strengths, particularly aerospace and defense. Those are priorities I’m working on as governor.

But in looking for ways to expand jobs and opportunity for Arizonans, we cannot underestimate our relationship with Mexico. And key to our relationship with Mexico is Southern Arizona.

Last month, I led the first gubernatorial trade mission to Mexico City in almost a decade. This was the initial step to building a more robust relationship with our friends on the other side of our international border.

Now, as we move forward, Southern Arizona and its local leaders will be critical to maximizing this relationship.

Metropolitan Tucson is just miles from one of the fastest growing economies in the world. So for the region, this provides a unique opportunity to benefit and play an integral role in enhancing trade, capital investment and job expansion.

That’s why last week I expanded the role of the director of my Southern Arizona office, Juan Ciscomani. Juan will now additionally oversee operations in a Sonora-based office Arizona has in Hermosillo.

Juan is a native of Hermosillo, and his previous experience with the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will serve him well in this role, supporting the growth and expansion of small and medium enterprises to increase bilateral trade between the two states.

Rather than operating in silos, these two offices will work in harmony. And by placing a member of my senior staff in charge of this Hermosillo office, I believe we are sending a strong message to Mexico that Arizona is serious about the economic possibilities that lie ahead.

I’ve been supportive of the effort by Congresswoman Martha McSally and Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake to designate the Sonoran Corridor Interstate, connecting I-19 and I-10 south of Tucson. It will be critical to our success.

Why is all this so important?

Already, Mexico is far and away Arizona’s largest international trading partner. We just hit a record of $15.9 billion in trade with the country. That’s more than all of the trade between Mexico and the Asia-Pacific Rim, and nearly as much as Mexico trades with Germany.

Mexico is an important ally to advancing in the global economy – it is forecast to be the world’s fifth-largest economy by 2050. The ascending and fast-growing Mexican economy will be good for both sides of the border, and it’s not just all about GDP, job growth and investment.

As the Mexican people reap the benefits of free market reforms taking place in Mexico today, and the resulting economic growth, we can expect to see a positive impact on security — specifically, border security. And that’s something every Arizonan can get behind.

The economic opportunities between Arizona and Mexico are countless, and based on the warm response we received on our visit, Mexico agrees and stands ready to partner with us.

But there’s so much more to this relationship than one trip. Our efforts need to be ongoing.

I’m committed as governor to valuing and nurturing our relationships with our friends to the south. Where opportunities to expand trade and commerce exist, we will lead and we will partner.

Thriving economies on both sides of the border is a win-win for Arizona and Mexico, but that will only come by working together and demonstrating mutual respect.

As we move forward, I’ll be looking to business and community leaders in Southern Arizona to help strengthen these efforts.

Republican Doug Ducey is governor of Arizona. Contact him through his website at azgovernor.gov/governor/form/contact-governor-ducey