UTB convenes leaders for binational economic development workshop
The University of Texas at Brownsville was host to area and national representatives of government, education and economic development gathered for a workshop regarding the proposed Bi-National Border Economic Development initiative Friday, May 3rd.
The meeting gathered input ahead of a fall bi-national summit planned to formally debut the economic development, security and immigration strategy that can better connect the United States and Mexico. Developed as a strategy of the Imagine Brownsville Comprehensive Plan, the BiNED initiative would serve as a pilot program for the Texas-Mexico borderlands as well as similar regions throughout the global south.
“BiNED is important for both Brownsville and Matamoros simply because working together synergistically will allow the region to position itself much more competitively than working individually in creating an advanced manufacturing cluster,” said Dr. Mark Kroll, Dean of the university’s School of Business. “Matamoros has in place a fairly extensive manufacturing base and labor rates that are competitive on a global basis. Brownsville has, and is developing, sources of inexpensive energy and has in place important transportation and logistics infrastructure.”
Among the attendees was Carlos Alberto Garcia Gonzalez, a member of Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies in Mexico City, who represents the Matamoros district. He cited the Free Trade International Bridge at Los Indios in Cameron County and the Ysleta-Zaragoza International Bridge in El Paso as being underutilized for economic and trade purposes.
“We have the land and the investors that want to open a fiscal trade zone,” explained Garcia. He also said Mexico could work with the United States regarding the ongoing development of Interstate 69 connecting Texas to Michigan.
Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez said security, immigration and education are important components of BiNED. He wants to see the educational needs of companies on both sides of the border included in curricula.
“One of United Brownsville’s basic premises is that we cannot accomplish transformational change without increasing the educational attainment of our region,” said UT Brownsville President Juliet V. García. “Both the leaders of the UT System and our community leaders on both sides of the border believe that we should capitalize on our strategic location as the gateway to the Americas to recruit talented biliterate students and faculty to help resolve the issues that face the Rio Grande Valley and communities that look like us throughout the Global South, such as desalinization, sustainability and bilingual education.”