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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Tijuana

June 25, 2018

After Thermo Fisher Scientific opened its software development center of excellence in September 2016, the technical capabilities of Tijuana’s workforce have caught the attention of numerous San Diego companies. One of those companies is Red Door Interactive (RDI), a San Diego-based digital marketing firm poised for rapid growth. Rather than growing its team in Indonesia, RDI approached EDC with a preference to expand closer to its headquarters in downtown San Diego. EDC worked with RDI over the proceeding months to assess the company’s needs and get leadership acquainted with the Tijuana market.  

RDI’s leadership was encouraged by the success of Thermo Fisher’s software center, which grew from 40 to more than 250 employees over two years. However, Thermo Fisher’s line of work ranges greatly from RDI’s, which is focused on SEO optimization, web development, and data analytics. The digital marketing industry is highly competitive, and subject to cost pressures and workload fluctuations. To keep with demand, RDI needed a solution that allowed it to increase agility and scale its staffing capability without greatly increasing overhead.  

After meeting with RDI’s leadership, EDC organized a site visit to showcase numerous software development operations in Tijuana. Alongside EDC, the company toured examples of different operational models including BIT Center, MindHub Tech Incubator, and Thermo Fisher. These companies shared insight on talent availability and resources. RDI’s leadership left the site visit impressed and ready to move ahead. To move quickly on an expansion, EDC and Tijuana EDC facilitated an introduction between RDI and IVEMSA, a Tijuana shelter company that works with U.S. companies to simplify the process of establishing an operation in Mexico.

Soon thereafter, RDI and IVEMSA toured through several available office locations, ultimately selecting one to begin operations. RDI is currently opening their Tijuana operation, investing more than $40,000 and achieving an immediate three percent growth in employment, with projections for growth up to 15 percent.

"Thanks to the EDC, Red Door Interactive is now expanding our footprint in the broader San Diego-Tijuana region. EDC made the daunting process incredibly approachable by walking us through the process every step of the way,” said Reid Carr, CEO, Red Door Interactive. “They facilitated site exploration and establishment via critical and vetted introductions and they provided valuable information to support our decisions. We can now capitalize this diverse regional asset to complement our established presence in San Diego.”

 

February 28, 2018

Last Friday, San Diego hosted Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, as a follow up to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and WTC San Diego's "World's Greenest Cities” trade mission to Vancouver, Canada.

The day began with a public Mayoral Forum on North American Competitiveness and Sustainability, held at the University Club in downtown. Mayor Faulconer and Mayor Robertson were joined by City of Tijuana COO, Bernabe Esquer, in a moderated discussion on cross-border cooperation and city leadership in economic and environmental issues. The event was attended by more than 100 civic and business leaders.

Building on the theme of sustainability, Mayor Robertson was taken on a tour of San Diego-based Measurabl, the company responsible for the world’s fastest growing sustainability software for commercial buildings and facilities. The local startup develops cloud-based software that collects data on energy consumption, creates investment-grade sustainability reports and alerts companies to improvement opportunities for added efficiency. The company visit showcased how San Diego companies play a leading role in developing green technologies that get adopted around the world.

Mayor Robertson left that evening for the C40 Mayors Summit in Mexico City with much report on his visit to life-changing San Diego. At the forefront: San Diego’s working relationship with Tijuana can be a model for border cities like Vancouver in addressing issues that span national boundaries.

 

February 22, 2017
The largest city in the state of Baja California, Tijuana sits at one of busiest land border crossings in the world. Together with San Diego, Tijuana is part of a dynamic cross-border metropolis where deep economic and cultural linkages result in the creation of value, jobs and exports. The unique dynamics of this mega-region provide local companies with an important comparative advantage in the global economy. Since April 2016, EDC has participated in a greater initiative to streamline cross-border economic development efforts by refining our approach to servicing corporate retention, expansion and attraction interests. This “bilateral cities exchange” called for a deeper understanding of Tijuana’s economy as a critical component of economic growth throughout the region. 
 
As such, EDC partnered with UC San Diego’s Center for US-Mexican Studies to create an economic overview of Tijuana – a seven-page document that provides a data-driven summary of Tijuana’s economic drivers, talent, quality of life, global connectivity and cost. This resource will help inform clients and partners of Tijuana’s diversifying economy while touching on the unique benefits of doing business in our binational mega-region.
 
Highlights include:
  • Economy: Tijuana is a medical device manufacturing powerhouse; 97 companies employ 21,000 workers who produced $600M worth of product in 2014. 
  • In 2015, Tijuana graduated more than 8,000 university-level students – 29 percent of which received STEM degrees.
  • Tijuana ranked #8 on the New York Times' 2017 list of must-visit destinations around the world.
  • Between 2012 and 2016, FDI in Baja totaled $5.6 billion – 63 percent of which came from the U.S. Other sources of FDI include South Korea, the Netherlands, Japan and Spain.
  • When compared to China, Mexico is estimated to have 13 percent lower labor costs and an overall average direct manufacturing cost that is four percentage points cheaper than China. 
 
Read the Tijuana Regional Profile here.
September 26, 2016
This week, Thermo Fisher Scientific, the global life sciences and biotechnology company, cut the ribbon on its Software Center of Excellence (COE) in Tijuana. Thermo Fisher Scientific is a world leader in serving science with $17 billion in revenues and approximately 50,000 employees in 50 countries. The company develops, manufactures and sells a wide variety of innovative biotechnology products including analytical instruments, equipment, reagents and software, and provides services for research, manufacturing, analysis and diagnostics.
 
Thermo Fisher’s expansion into Tijuana is exemplary of the cross-border collaboration between Mexico and San Diego – one of the leading life sciences hubs in the country. To stay current in a climate of rapidly evolving technology, the company made the critical decision to expand its software engineering division. Thermo Fisher was eager to explore the viability of opening software operations in a location with quality talent and in the same time zone as its corporate headquarters in Carlsbad. 

 
With the support of San Diego Regional EDC, UC San Diego and partners from Mexico including the city of Tijuana, state of Baja, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California and Tijuana EDC, Thermo Fisher completed several trips to Tijuana to explore viability. With this strong network of partners, Thermo Fisher made the decision to construct a world-class office facility just minutes from the San Ysidro border crossing and less than an hour drive to its Carlsbad office.
 
Software engineering talent in Latin America, in particular Mexico, has been emerging as a source for many companies such as Thermo Fisher, providing an alternative to hiring employees overseas where distance and time zones prove to be ongoing challenges. While Tijuana is traditionally recognized as a hub for advanced manufacturing, Thermo Fisher’s software COE highlights the availability of local talent in the software sector. The company successfully attracted an extremely skilled group of software personnel from around Mexico, all of whom were excited about the opportunity to be a part of Thermo Fisher’s software center. As of the ribbon cutting, the Thermo Fisher employs around 45 employees, with space to grow its team to 150 within the year. 
 
As a result of expanding operations to Tijuana, Thermo Fisher is realizing accelerated rates of innovation with less financial risk as well as unequivocal improvements in collaboration between its teams in Carlsbad and Tijuana.
 
“...being just one hour apart makes an amazing difference in how the teams are productive together," said Mark Field, CTO of Software Services, Thermo Fisher Scientific
 
April 15, 2016

Over the past year, EDC has partnered with the Brookings Institute’s Bilateral Cities Exchange to refine the economic development approach between Tijuana and San Diego. In parallel, EDC’s recent engagement with the site selection industry through Explore San Diego – a tour hosted for 12 site selector consultants earlier this year – enabled our facilitation of a cross-border business attraction project that will provide jobs and investment on both sides of the border. Per terms of confidentiality, this project is being referred to as Project Scout.

During EDC’s inaugural Explore San Diego tour, we focused not only on success stories in San Diego, but highlighted companies who had set up operations on both sides of the border, including Thermo Fisher and BD. Although we frequently hear about cross-border collaboration in San Diego, we soon realized that it was a story that many outside the region – including these site selectors – hadn’t thought about; companies can easily do business on both sides of the border.

In early March, EDC received a request from an Explore San Diego attendee whose client was looking to scale manufacturing operations outside of its current high-cost pilot facility. Given the consultants’ recent exposure to the bi-national mega region, San Diego-Tijuana made the long list of 20 potential sites. In response, EDC provided data, real estate market figures and other strengths regarding our cross-border economy. Just two weeks later, a call came in that San Diego-Tijuana had made the top three, alongside North Carolina and Texas.

In a tour on behalf of Project Scout, EDC rallied the necessary business and political partners in order to put the region’s best foot forward – making the case for a cross-border operation. With partners including CaliBaja, city of San Diego, city of Tijuana, San Diego Mayor Faulconer, Tijuana EDC and UC San Diego, EDC showcased Tijuana’s dynamic manufacturing facilities. Here, the group shattered stereotypes by exposing not only the quality and efficiency of Tijuana manufacturing, but also the cross-border collaboration that makes our region so unique.

Project Scout ultimately chose to scale 80,000 square feet of manufacturing operations in San Diego-Tijuana – beating out North Carolina, Texas and other competitors. The local operation will provide jobs on both sides of the border beginning in August.

Stay tuned for more as Project Scout develops. 

March 4, 2013

CaliBaja MegaRegion

How many positive articles about Mexico does it take to confirm a trend? Three seems about right, but add in a major think tank calling 2013/2014 the “Year of Mexico,” and you’ve got a full-fledged movement going on.

First came Chris Anderson’s New York Times opinion piece titled “Mexico: The New China,” where he describes his cross-border company 3D Robotics. With facilities in both San Diego and Tijuana he is able to do what he calls “quicksourcing,” where the short supply chain between the two locations enables the company to innovate faster and control inventory more efficiently. Anderson, who was the editor of Wired before he left to join 3D Robotics full time, compares the Hong Kong and Shenzhen special economic zone of the late 1990s and early 2000s to today’s experience working between San Diego and Tijuana. “The sense of possibility I felt when I first crossed from Hong Kong to Shenzhen in 1997 is what I now feel when I cross from San Diego to Tijuana,” said Anderson.

Flat-worlder Thomas Friedman weighed in from Monterrey, Mexico on “How Mexico Got Back in the Game,” with stats on Mexico’s trade with the U.S. – a staggering $1.5 billion a day. Friedman cites The Financial Times reporting that Mexico has signed 44 trade agreements, which is more than any country in the world, and exports more manufactured products than the combined exports of all other Latin American countries. “Better integration of Mexico’s manufacturing and innovation prowess into America’s is a win-win. It makes U.S. companies more profitable and competitive, so they can expand at home and abroad, and it gives Mexicans a reason to stay home and reduces violence,” wrote Friedman.

Violence is where USA Today’s article “Mexico’s commerce crawls back from drug war’s chaos,” started – but the story focused on the fact that border violence has been dropping steadily in the last year –  quoting a study from the University of San Diego’s Trans-Border Institute citing that organized crime-related murder in Mexico dropped 21 percent in 2012. In Mexico’s six border states the drop was a dramatic 32 percent.  San Diego Regional EDC’s Christina Luhn, who leads the Cali Baja Bi-National Mega-Region initiative, worked closely with the reporters and introduced them to people on both sides of the border.

EDC Vice President Sean Barr was in Washington DC last week for meetings at the Brookings Institution regarding their Metropolitan Export Exchange program where teams of metropolitan leaders are working on developing Metropolitan Export Plans to improve their global trade strategies so the nation can remain a center of growth and innovation for years to come. At the meeting Brookings announced that 2013/14 will be the “Year of Mexico.” According to Barr, the ongoing reshoring and nearshoring trends have attracted their attention. Their effort will start with an in-depth study of US-Mexico supply chains.  “The Mega-Region Initiative is of considerable interest to them,” he told the EDC team.

Let’s make sure it’s really the year of cross-border progress.