Discussions are underway to have a large delegation of elected officials, business and economic development leaders from San Diego to Brownsville and Tijuana to Matamoros visit Washington, D.C., and Mexico City on an annual basis.
Supporters of the initiative believe such a delegation would present a unified voice with a strong message about the issues that really matter along the U.S.-Mexico border region. They say U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rouke of El Paso put it best when he recently said: “When we fail to define the border to the rest of the world, to the folks in Washington, D.C., or Mexico City, we allow them to define the border for us.”
Informal discussions about a united border delegation making annual trips to the capitols of the U.S. and Mexico took place early last month when a handful of Rio Grande Valley leaders visited San Diego. On the trip were U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, Keith Patridge, president and CEO of McAllen Economic Development Corporation, Carlos Margo, executive officer of the North American Advanced Manufacturing Research and Education Initiative, and Mike Gonzalez, executive director of United Brownsville.
Gonzalez participated in further discussions in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, after he spoke on a panel discussion at the Wilson Center. The panel focused on a new report titled ‘Competitive Border Communities: Mapping and Developing U.S.-Mexico Transborder Industries.’ It was authored jointly by the Mexico Institute and North American Research Partnership.
Support from San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce
“We have been doing this for ten years. We brought 150 of our members and government leaders to D.C. to advocate for us, for a wide range of issues, from healthcare, military and defense, workforce development, energy and water, housing, transportation, and cross-border trade. It is really impressive. Each year when we come to D.C. and Mexico City our delegation keeps growing. One hundred and fifty this year. That is 20 more than we had last year,” Avila said, during the panel discussion.
The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, Avila pointed out, has 2,500 members and includes 40 smaller local chambers. It represents companies of all sizes, from those with just two employees all the way up to Fortune 500 entities. Among its members are companies based in Mexico.