Friday, Feb. 2, 2007 | The decision by the Port Commission to seriously explore a cross-border airport with facilities adjacent to each other along the Otay border is a dose of enlightened action driven by practical economic realities apart from the obstacles to a fully functional international airport on the San Diego side of the international border.

As former American-born Baja California Governor Ernesto Ruffo Appel has astutely observed in recent talks on both sides of the border, we are in an integrated economy radiating 200 miles in all directions from a San Diego-Tijuana axis.

We are a challenged to find new solutions to transportation, educational, housing, employment, and quality of life dilemmas. Just as the value of the U.S. dollar is linked to the Japanese Yen in a symbiotic relationship, so is the economy (and jobs) in San Diego linked to Tijuana.

The airport authority is in a position to move with all deliberate speed to engage governmental officials on both sides of the border to make a cross-border airport a reality.

Stepping up economic engagement would generate more family-supporting jobs for those living on this side of the border.

The San Diego area’s community colleges are well positioned to enable our residents to reap the rewards that energized economic engagement would bring. The 50,000 student-strong San Diego Community College District’s Continuing Education program, in particular, is aimed at giving adult students a leg up in making sure they have the basic skills necessary for success.

Let’s all hope that these early efforts by the airport authority meet with success along the way!

Richard Dittbenner is the director of the Public Information & Government Relations for the San Diego Community College District

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