Report Presentation: Borderless Innovation: Catalyzing the Competitiveness of the San Diego-Baja California Region
Jerry Sanders, Mayor of the City of San Diego;
Eugenio Elorduy, Governor of Baja California;
Mary L. Walshok, Vice Chancellor, University of California, San Diego;
Rodrigo Gutiérrez Sández, Director, CENTRIS;
Jessie K. Knight Jr., President/CEO, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce;
Daniel Romero, President, Tijuana Chambers of Commerce (CCE);
Moderator: Malin Burnham, Chairman, Burnham Foundation
On May 23, 2006 the Mexico Institute held a seminar on the first major report to come out of the San Diego Dialogue's Crossborder Innovation and Competitiveness Initiative, Borderless Innovation. In partnership with CENTRIS, a non-profit economic development program, and the educational institution CICESE, San Diego Dialogue conducted research during the past eighteen months to identify "clusters of opportunity" that have the potential to help the San Diego-Baja California region reshape its economic relationship and enhance its competitiveness in the global economy.
Andrew Selee opened by emphasizing the need for there to be greater cooperation between Mexico and the United States, citing this joint competitiveness initiative in the San Diego-Tijuana region as an example for how broadening the relationship will benefit both countries. Malin Burnham seconded this view by stating there is a need for greater attention to be paid to the region on a national level. He referenced San Diego Dialogue studies as a good starting off point, noting its success in creating a "Century Pass" for people who cross the border frequently, thereby cutting down the amount of time in which they must wait to get to the other side.
Mayor Sanders further addressed the issue of business-related border crossing, pointing out the average of a three-hour wait to cross the border coming north. Sanders stated that the city of San Diego loses 4.2 billion dollars a year in wasted costs that could be prevented if a more efficient system for border crossing were created. He emphasized the need to ensure that correct infrastructure is in place and referenced the San Ysidro Border Project as an example of an initiative working towards this goal. Sanders referred to the report as a blueprint for what should be done in the region. It calls for action to accelerate economic development on both sides of the border through identifying innovative businesses. Governor Elorduy asserted that the border is an important point of contact between the two nations, and congratulated the participants in the fact that authorities, the business community, and educators were represented from both sides of the border at the day's meeting.
Mary Walshock and Rodgrigo Gutiérrez discussed the findings and recommendations of the report itself. They pointed out that in the last six years there has been a renewal of the regional economy where policy began to be based on "cluster development." They emphasized the need to further enhance opportunities by producing high value jobs. They cited four key recommendations for forming new cross-border partnerships: (1) A more concentrated effort to link infrastructure development, with a special emphasis on reducing border waits for freight and passengers in an efficient and secure manner; (2) development of multi-institutional collaboration focused on cross-border innovation and competitiveness with regular research, technical assistance, education and training; (3) the building and strengthening of applied research partnerships in the areas of energy and sustainability technologies, marine biotechnology and advanced material science, and information technologies; and (4) a comprehensive approach to co-marketing the region to the rest of the United States and Mexico through collaboratively developed campaigns among chambers of commerce.
Jessie Knight Jr. emphasized the importance of educating business communities about opportunities in Mexico, which could in turn be a platform for growth of the San Diego economy to become a global competitor. Daniel Romero agreed with this and asserted that there needs to be investment to develop technologies as well as incentive programs so that the San Diego-Baja California region can be able to compete against Asia.