November 11, 2005

High-Tech Mega-Development Showcased

First there was Silicon Valley. Then there were Silicon Mesa in New Mexico and Silicon South in Austin, Texas. If Daniel Hill has his way, the Baja California border city of

Mexicali will be the high-tech world’s next hotspot, Silicon Border. The director of the Silicon Border Development project, Hill unveiled his plans at the 32nd Convention of the National Council of the Maquiladora Export Industry, held in the old Pacific Coast tourist resort of Acapulco this past weekend.

Speaking before the captains of the Mexican maquiladora industry, Hill outlined his vision for a massive, Mexicali industrial park that’s planned to attract 150 foreign firms and employ upwards of 100,000 people dedicated to manufacturing semi-conductors and other high-tech gadgets.

The projected industrial site will cover more than 12,000 acres. According to Hill, the model for Silicon Border is the Hsin-Chiu development in Taiwan. He presented Silicon

Border as North America’s opportunity to shift some production away from Asian plants, which dominate the world’s semi-conductor manufacturing.

“That’s why we can’t let a market get away that brings in $240 billion dollars and has the capacity to control the electronic and high-tech industries,” Hill urged.

Hill said initial construction of the Mexicali industrial complex could begin as early as this year and be finished within the next two years. Launched in 2001 by National Semiconductor company veteran Hill and others, Silicon Border got a boost in the form of a grant from the federal Mexican and Baja California state government for developing the industrial park. Billed as the “Science Park of the Americas,” ground for the industrial park was broken last summer.

In his Acapulco speech, Hill credited Mexico and Baja California for possessing the basic elements to turn Mexicali into the next high-tech mecca. The high-tech business promoter pointed to the North American Free Trade Agreement and other international trade agreements signed by the Mexican government, ample labor, land, Colorado River water, and available electricity as the ingredients for a success. The industrial park is in close proximity to power plants operated by the Intergen and Sempra companies.

For workforce development, the publicly-operated Autonomous University of Baja California and the privately-run Technological Institute of Monterrey will be drawn in to train employees, according to Hill.

Hill said the highest levels of the Mexican federal government are giving enthusiastic support to the Silicon Border development.

“President Vicente Fox has given all the facilities for the construction. He is a businessman and understands perfectly what we want to do,” Hill said, adding that the Mexico’s federal budget and taxation ministry has agreed to give 10-year tax breaks to manufacturing companies setting up shop in Silicon Border. Silicon Border has reportedly raised eyebrows in Guadalajara, the current center of Mexico’s small high-tech industry.

A strategic goal of the Mexicali project is to create a high-tech corridor between the industry’s brain center in northern California and its future production facilities on the border. Hill said Intel, Phillips, Sharp, Samsung, and Sony are among companies interested in locating in Mexicali.

Reprinted from Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news Center for Latin American and Border Studies, New Mexico State University.

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