Recently companies such as Electrolux, Bosch, Foxconn, Flextronics and Lexmark have added their names to the list of over 70 Fortune 500 companies already active in the region. Among those companies are heavy hitters Delphi, Visteon, Johnson Controls, Lear, Boeing, Cardinal Health, Yazaki, Sumitomo and Siemens. The Delphi Technical Center in Juarez is the largest of its kind in the world, employing more than 3,000 engineers in design, research and development, quality assurance and testing positions.
Several factors have contributed to Juarez’s increasing success in the manufacturing industry over the last 40 years. First, it is the birthplace of the maquiladora industry, the brainchild of the Juarenses’ ideology.
Simply put, the term maquiladora, or production sharing center, is a manufacturing center which exports a large part of its output and whose imports are imported tax free.
The borderplex has proven to be a successful point of operation for companies across the globe. Juarez, El Paso, and the two southern New Mexico counties support one of the top five North American manufacturing centers, employing 267,000 workers, with more than 239,000 in over 340 plants in Juarez alone.
Today, production sharing accounts for 40 percent of the global merchandise trade. In 2005, the El Paso/Juarez region’s total production sharing trade was approximately $45 billion continuing the borderplex’s long run as the largest international production sharing center in the world.
Proximity of location
A vital key to Juarez’s success in the industry is its strategic geographical position in North America. The Paso Del Norte region is the midway point on the U.S./Mexico border, 814 miles from the Port of Long Beach and 739 miles from the Port of Houston. The region’s geographic position is supported by rock solid infrastructure with remarkable quality as well as all forms of mass transportation including ground, rail, and air:
• Three major highways, U.S. Interstates 10 and 25, and the Pan-American Highway in Mexico, connect the region to major hubs in both countries.
• Three commercial ports of entry (two in El Paso and one in New Mexico) feature the dedicated truck lane known as FAST (Free and Secure Trade) Lane.
• Two Dedicated Commuter Lanes (DCL) make the region more industry efficient by keeping plant-to-home travel time to 30 minutes or less for the more than 3,100 managers currently working in Juarez.
• Rail service to the region is provided by three major rail lines; Union-Pacific and Burlington Northern-Santa Fe (U.S.) and Ferromex (Mexico).
• Air transportation is provided by international airports in both Juarez and El Paso, with over 70 daily non-stop flights from El Paso alone.
Thirteen of those flights go to Phoenix, and fourteen of those flights go to Dallas. Popular destinations out of Juarez include Mexico City, Monterrey, and Torreon.
• The airfreight center at the El Paso International Airport is the largest and most modern on the U.S./Mexico border, with over 300,000 square feet available for cargo shipment with further support by the cargo-only airport in Santa Teresa, New Mexico.
But the cooperation in the region doesn’t end with commerce. The borderplex region hosts a unique bicultural community where people are warm, friendly and family oriented. The quality of life rivals that of many major North American metropolitan areas, and it continues to improve with recent additions, most notably the $40 million renovation of the turn-of-the-century Plaza Theater, which hosts numerous traveling Broadway shows, and a recently approved $845 million bond for building and renovating El Paso public schools. The region hosts two Division I NCAA athletic programs (UTEP and NMSU) along with minor league baseball, hockey and soccer teams, and a slew of internationally flavored cultural events that go on year round. Juarez enjoys a per-capita income nearly 25 percent higher than the national average in Mexico with many fringe benefits for employees such as paid meals, shuttle transportation, and workplace childcare, which contribute significantly to the satisfaction of the maquila industry’s employees. All of this makes this area an attractive and vital place in which to do business.
Manuel Ochoa is vice president, bi-national development for RED Co, El Paso Regional Economic Development Corporation. If you are interested in getting to know the region, please contact REDCo at 800-651-8070 or visit www.elpasoredco.org