I’m writing in response to “Mayors on Both Sides of the Border Want to Break Down Barriers.” The San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation is encouraged by the collaboration between San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and Tijuana Mayor Carlos Bustamante. The EDC shares their vision of this binational region, which we call CaliBaja. There’s no question we need to work together to ease border waits, which is why we’re working with the Tijuana EDC and other organizations on both sides of the border to fix this long-standing problem. It’s not an overly ambitious goal like ending poverty. This is very doable.
San Diego County, Imperial County and the state of Baja California in Mexico have become one of the leading mega-regions in the world. With a combined population of more than 6.5 million people, a 27,000 square mile footprint, two major international airports, three land ports of entry and two major seaports, CaliBaja offers incomparable development opportunities for global businesses. We have the talent to innovate, design, develop and manufacture the products that will lead the next wave of global economic growth.
Standing in the way of our enormous potential is a heavily congested border that no one looks forward to crossing. Most of us would rather go into the office on a Saturday than sit in traffic for hours inching toward the border.
Each year, an estimated $20 billion in goods cross the border at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. But, as your story notes, the San Diego Association of Governments estimates the region annually misses “out on $7.2 billion and more than 62,000 jobs due to the long waits.”
That’s an extraordinary loss, especially in these challenging economic times.
As we all strive to build a world-class economy for our region, the further development and expansion of the border is vital to our ongoing competitiveness and success.
Together with the Tijuana EDC, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, SANDAG, the San Diego/Tijuana Smart Border Coalition and others, the EDC is working on reducing border congestion and promoting the region for investment opportunities. It’s an issue we regularly discuss with elected officials, business leaders and others on both sides of the border.
We all share the same goal: We want CaliBaja to thrive.
Border waits, unfortunately, are not new. The collaboration and commitment we’re seeing from leaders on both sides of the border is not unprecedented, but it is growing, and it will play a key role in resolving this regional issue and building a stronger economy for years to come.
Mark Cafferty is president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation.
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