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Competitive Border Communities: Mapping and Developing U.S.-Mexico Transborder Industries

Since the implementation of NAFTA twenty-one years ago, trade between the United States and Mexico has grown six-fold. It now totals more than a half-trillion dollars each year, with approximately 80% of that—more than a billion dollars each day—crossing at the U.S.-Mexico land border. Trade in many ways drives economic development opportunities at the border, but focusing exclusively on moving goods through the region is insufficient. To truly capitalize on the potential of the border economy, government, businesses and educational institutions must come together across the border to strengthen the region's human capital, supplier networks, and business environment.

This year, the Mexico Institute and the North American Research Partnership undertook an initiative to identify, map and analyze key industries that are highly concentrated, dynamic and binational, operating within five binational sub-regions along the entire U.S.-Mexico border. The project is designed to support the economic development work of both local communities and the federal governments in the U.S.-Mexico border region by identifying strong candidates for cluster-based economic development efforts. This report,  Competitive Border Communities: Mapping and Developing U.S.-Mexico Transborder Industries, discusses the project's findings and provides principal recommendations.

We would like to thank the Council of State Governments West and USAID for their support and for making this project possible.

Competitive Border Communities: Mapping and Developing U.S.-Mexico Transborder Industries


For More Information on Regional Cluster Mapping:

U.S. Cluster Mapping

Observatorio Estrategico-Tecnologico

CaliBaja Research Initiative


Mexico Institute

The Mexico Institute seeks to improve understanding, communication, and cooperation between Mexico and the United States by promoting original research, encouraging public discussion, and proposing policy options for enhancing the bilateral relationship. A binational Advisory Board, chaired by Luis Téllez and Earl Anthony Wayne, oversees the work of the Mexico Institute.   Read more