I’ve been at the helm of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber (THCC) for over 4 years. During this time, our business community has struggled during the economic recession, but they’ve also sought out new revenue opportunities on which the THCC has focused. Our business community has an often overlooked market opportunity in the fast growing Hispanic market in Arizona. Our mantra in the chamber is that by 2035, the State of Arizona will be a majority Hispanic (DATOS 2013) and we work with our member businesses on the impact on their marketing, supplier and human resource strategies. Our chamber has focused on providing demographic and market information and encouraging the development of bi-cultural and bi-lingual efforts in for-profit, non-profit and government entities throughout Arizona.
The Tucson Hispanic Chamber has also developed a strategic vision for the economic advancement of the Arizona Sonora region. Many businesses throughout the State of Arizona have an interest in identifying suppliers and business customers in Mexico. Likewise, Mexican businesses have the same need. Our chamber has worked closely advising business owners in Mexico who are interested in expanding or distributing their product in Arizona. Our vision has included strategies that enable member businesses to open new markets and strengthen communication between our two countries to identify new business, investment, promotional and commercial trade opportunities for our region.
The $11.9 billion Arizona-Sonora cross-border trade boom is one of North America’s great success stories. Yet despite the remarkable growth, something has been missing: a comprehensive directory of the pivotal businesses, trade groups, economic development entities and government agencies on both sides of the border.
The Arizona-Sonora Business Resource Guide, the result of a joint effort of the Arizona Daily Star and the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, will fill that gap. The Guide will be an exhaustive directory backed up with economic data and profiles of key players, as well as tips from cross-border trade pros on how to get started or expand.
Businesses in the States of Arizona and Sonora who participate in international trade may be listed in the Directory at no cost by visiting www.arizona-sonora.com. English and Spanish editions of the 70+ page Guide will be distributed in Arizona and Sonora in the spring of 2014. Events will be hosted in Hermosillo, Tucson, and Phoenix to reveal the Guide and provide an opportunity for networking and education. Information on the events and sponsorship opportunities can be found at www.TucsonHispanicChamber.org.
The Guide will be pivotal for businesses, trade groups, economic development organizations and government agencies on both sides of the border. As our chamber team meets with businesses, one of the first needs identified is for contacts and connections. Certainly, we’ve all heard of the importance of building relationships and trust in our bi-cultural region. The Guide is the first step in identifying resources and our chamber will continue to work at building relationships by hosting Conexiones (events to promote international trade) and hosting Trade Mission Trips to Mexico. In fact, we are hosting a Trade Mission Trip to Cananea February 27th and 28th to meet with managers at the Grupo Mexico Mine which is doubling in size. This is a great opportunity for our business community to explore becoming vendors and suppliers to this large mine and others in Sonora. The trip is open to the public and information is on our website at www.tucsonhispanicchamber.org.
The Tucson Hispanic Chamber is also hosting a Trade Mission Trip to China April 3-11th. The trip will encompass key tourism sites in Beijing and Shanghai and study the American Manufacturing relationship with China and opportunities for Mexico. Mexico’s hourly wages are about a fifth lower than China’s, a huge turnaround from just 10 years ago when they were nearly three times higher, according to new research by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Increased manufacturing in the Northern states of Mexico will positively impact Southern Arizona. The deadline to register for this trip is January 31st. The cost is $2390 per person which includes airfare from Tucson, hotel accommodations, and all meals.
There is a lot of activity related to improving trade relations with Mexico. Recently, Congressman Matt Salmon held a congressional hearing in Tucson related to trade opportunities at which I was honored to testify. Several of our cities are planning offices in Mexico City. Mexican tourism dollars remain strong and efforts are ongoing.
The Tucson Hispanic Chamber will continue our advocacy role for additional infrastructure investment and pro-trade policies on both sides of the border and our work in building businesses connections. Partnerships like the Arizona Sonora Business Resource Guide with the Arizona Daily Star will help meet the critical need of cross border connections and have a positive effect on the economy in the Arizona-Sonora region.