On June 15, 2018, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) Board formally approved funding for the two planned construction phases for State Route 189 (SR 189), Nogales to Interstate 19. State Route 189 is a major freight corridor that moves international commerce efficiently and safely between Arizona and Mexico at the Mariposa Port of Entry, one of the busiest land ports in the United States. The total cost for the full build-out of improvements is $134 million allocated in fiscal year 2019.
On June 15, 2018, the Arizona Office of Tourism and the Commission of Tourism Development of the State of Sonora, signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the joint promotion of tourism in the Arizona-Sonora region as a “two-nation destination.” This agreement will serve as a joint marketing campaign focusing on not only what Arizona has to offer or what Sonora has to offer, but on what both regions combined have to offer, as a full vacation or adventure destination.
The Arizona Department of Real Estate has partnered with Arizona State University to approve their Real Estate Minor Program for licensing credit. This along with the University of Sonora’s diploma for real estate professionals has offered opportunities to develop curriculum and courses that highlighting the economic relationships between Arizona and Sonora. The committee has also worked to improve awareness and access to information about investment in the Arizona-Sonora region through actions such as formation of a Foreign Investor Office in Hermosillo, Sonora. This along with greater institutional collaboration between real estate entities in both states will allow for greater communication and knowledge of legal and regulatory environments in both state’s real estate markets.
The Mining Committee has worked towards developing new ways of integrating the mining industry’s supply chains in the region, in part by establishing a sub-committee on supply chain which has brought together Arizona’s industry with its Sonoran counterparts. In addition, the Committee has developed strategies to increase cross-border supply chain activities by better utilizing the state’s Free Trade Zones (FTZ) and Mexico’s maquiladoras capabilities.
Unified Cargo Processing (UCP) was piloted at the Mariposa Port of Entry (POE) in Nogales and is now being implemented at various land ports along the U.S.-Mexico border. Quantifying the reduction of emissions through speedier processing of cargo will inform the public on air quality improvements and bolster the marketability of the Mariposa POE. The Environment and Water Committee in collaboration with the North American Research Partnership, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Arizona Department of Transportation collected specific data on the type of vehicles crossing the port for calculating emissions reduction. During the months of April-May 2018, the team collected 400 surveys, in two waves, at the Mariposa POE. The surveys identified the vehicle’s weight class, age, where fuel purchased (U.S. or Mexico), etc. The flows were highly variable based on events occurring both at and away from the border, however there was some indications that the UCP trucks have a likely lower emission profile than non-UCP trucks (as they tend to be younger, have more idle reduction technologies, etc.). The next steps include data analysis and a final report.
On May 18-19, 2018, the Health Services Committee in collaboration with the Regional Center for Border Health and the Medical Tourism Association of Sonora organized the first Health Destinations Expo 2018 in Hermosillo, Sonora, with a goal of strengthening and promoting health tourism. The Expo, aimed at doctors and the general public, positioned Arizona and Sonora as a regional and international health destination and integrated a binational network of providers of medical tourism and wellness. The Expo offered lectures on topics of oncology, nutrition, dermatology, obesity, behavior & addictions, taught by prominent doctors of both states in an effort to continue strengthening the network of health service providers in Arizona & Sonora.
On May 26-28, 2018, the Art & Culture Committee participated in Sonora Fest, held jointly with the annual Be Bisbee Festival, in Bisbee, Arizona. Sonora Fest is a cultural festival which aims to promote cross-cultural exchanges and features music, local food and beverage vendors, and artistic goods and performances from the state of Sonora. A highlight from the festival included a performance by the Mariachi of the Colegio de Bachilleres from Sonora before an audience of 5,000 people.
Arizona continues to support Sonora in training course delivery on the handling of Hazardous Materials, which can sometimes run 200 hours in length. These courses include training for hazardous material technicians and training for responding to hazardous material emergencies in maquiladoras. By April 2018, approximately 2, 945 first responders from federal, state and municipal police departments, maquiladoras, Cruz Roja, SEDENA, ARMADA, CFE, SCT, and Unidades Municipales de Protección Civil were trained to respond to hazardous material contingencies on both sides of the border, as well as collapsed structures, hospital safety, evacuation, family emergency preparedness plans, risk assessments, signage and internal programs of civil protection throughout the rest of the state of Sonora.
The Community & Social Organizations Committee (CSO) continues to strengthen understanding between Arizona and Sonora counterparts on the benefits of public-private, private-social, and public-social partnerships to support the growth and improvement of service delivery in vulnerable populations and the community at-large. On April 24-26, 2018, the committee held visits with border community organizations on both sides of the border in Nogales, Sonora and Nogales, Arizona, which set the foundation for knowledge and information sharing between the two states on community and social issues.
The Agribusiness & Wildlife Committee helped facilitate negotiations between the Arizona Department of Agriculture (AZDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to streamline the process for the export of slaughter cattle from Arizona to Mexico. The USDA agreed to provide veterinary endorsement services at the Port of Nogales for the export of slaughter cattle from Arizona to Mexico, as a way to reduce cross-border delays, and allow the international crossing of cattle more efficiently.
The Security Committee has established a Binational Training Program that has provided specialized training in key areas of public safety. Last year, Sonora state police officers were trained in high risk operations with live fire, vehicle traffic and basic high risk stops, and basic dignitary protection. This year, 40 Sonora state police officers were trained in vehicle theft and prevention. These joint programs have increased the effectiveness, efficiency, and resiliency of public safety in the fight against crime. A reduction in criminal incidents has not only improved the public’s perceptions of law enforcement agencies, but has increased opportunities for economic development in the megaregion.
The Financial and Legal Services Committee has actively supported initiatives by Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain, among others, to gather an understanding of government regulatory apprehensions, financial regulations and the unintended consequences of these on the financial industry resulting in banks limiting certain services directly impacting Arizona’s border communities. A key initiative was the engagement of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review and assess access to banking services along the southwest border.
Completing the study, the GAO published in February 2018 its report entitled “Derisking along the Southwest Border Highlights Need for Regulators to Enhance Retrospective Reviews.” In the report, the GAO recommends that “federal bank regulators conduct a retrospective review of BSA regulations and their implementation for banks. The review should focus on how banks’ regulatory concerns may be influencing their willingness to provide services. The federal banking regulators agreed to the recommendation.”
The Energy Committee has gradually increased the number of events it attends and hosts to further promote energy industry networking and knowledge related to renewable energy projects in the Megaregion. In January 2018, the committee attended the 3rd Mexico Energy Infrastructure Projects Forum in Monterrey, Mexico, which covered topics such as energy infrastructure projects within transportation, gas commercialization, energy, renewable energy, and fuels.
The Education Committee has established a Higher Education Consortium to promote strong relationships and strengthen inter-institutional linkages between Arizona and Sonora’s higher education institutions. This partnership has involved the creation of cooperation agreements within the framework of the Sonora-Arizona Megaregion. Each state’s educational sector will be represented by the general coordinators of the committee. The University of Sonora, the Centro de Alimentacion y Desarollo (CIAD), and other educational institutions have partnered with Arizona State University (ASU) to collaborate on cross-border issues. As part of this initiative, the committee launched and publicized sonoraglobal.mx on January 15, 2018, to promote higher education opportunities for Arizonans and Sonorans.
As the result of a joint agreement between Governor Doug Ducey and Sonora Governor Claudia Pavlovich, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and its Sonoran counterpart, SIDUR, launched the first Safety Corridor Program between the Lukeville Port of Entry and Puerto Peñasco, Sonora. The 63-mile safety corridor aims to reduce vehicular accidents and congestion, and also reduce emergency response times for overall safer travel between Arizona and Puerto Peñasco.
On March 14-15, 2018, the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Secretariat of Economy partnered to host the first Arizona-Sonora Business Expo. Nearly 100 exhibitors in key regional industries participated from the automotive, aerospace, electric, mining, agriculture, renewable energy, medical devices, and tourism sectors. The expo also offered opportunities for buyer and supplier business-to-business (B2B) to collaborate on initiatives aimed at improving the overall attractiveness and competitiveness of the region.
On December 1, 2017, the Energy Committee of the Arizona-Mexico Commission and Comisión Sonora-Arizona published the Arizona-Sonora Megaregion Energy Strategic Route, with the objective of working together to promote the Arizona-Sonora Megaregion as the place with the most competitive energy portfolio in the world that will support the creation of new business. This document serves as a tool in the elaboration of the long-term strategic plans for the development of the energy industry in the Megaregion.
On September 8, 2017, a priority action plan for the Arizona-Sonora Environmental Strategic Plan, the Environment and Water Committee of the Arizona-Mexico Commission and Comisión Sonora-Arizona, launched a smartphone app, Air Yuma. This mobile app serves to inform the public in the Yuma/San Luis area on daily air quality conditions and establish an ozone monitor station in San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora with data shared between the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and the Comisión de Ecología y Desarrollo Sustentable del Estado de Sonora (CEDES).
Hosted a 3-day Tri-State Livestock Conference between livestock groups in the states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Sonora to discuss livestock operation and needs that benefit the producers of this region.
Held the 2017 Festival Alfonso Ortiz Tirado in Tucson, Arizona to promote binational cultural and artistic exchanges to over 500 attendees.
Outlined priorities including improving cross-border information sharing, peer learning, and training between governments and communities in the areas of child welfare, substance abuse, and child literacy and education.
Updated joint attraction marketing materials for the Arizona-Sonora Megaregion to include brochures, videos, website, and success stories.
Awarded 11 students scholarships with the Consejo Estatal de Ciencia y Tecnologia (COECYT) Sonora scholarship to attend the Summer of Research Program at the University of Arizona where they developed research skills working with first-rate professors.
Trained a total of 2,266 first responders along 100 km of both sides of the border in hazardous materials management through incident command, hazmat first responder awareness, and hazmat first responder operations courses.
Published the Arizona-Sonora Megaregion Energy Roadmap that describes how the states of Arizona and Sonora will collaborate in energy sector development and serves as a tool for potential investors.
Secured funding to finance five projects of the Strategic Environmental Plan of the Arizona-Sonora Mega Region, two of which were implemented: ozone monitoring in San Luis Rio Colorado and the development of a mobile application to report air quality parameters in the Yuma-San Luis Rio Colorado region.
Worked with Senators Jeff Flake and John McCain, Arizona financial institutions, and border businesses to discuss the federal anti-money laundering and financing terrorism legislation that drove depository accounts and branch closures by banks along the Arizona-Mexico border and explored solutions satisfactory to all parties.
Established an inventory of Health Service Providers from Yuma, Tucson, and Sonora through collaborative efforts with the Regional Border Health Center and the Medical Tourism Association of Sonora.
Outlined priority projects including the creation of a binational map of mines and mining interests to strengthen the development and competitiveness of the mining industry of the Arizona-Sonora Megaregion through sustainable mining, chain of suppliers, research and development, and promotion of the generation of companies.
The Arizona Department of Real Estate (ADRE) has streamlined the process by reducing the amount of days to approve Public Disclosure Report Applications which are needed for purchasers, and before marketing for sale a development in Arizona and Mexico.
Held binational training for public safety officials in Arizona and Sonora with the objective of protecting border areas. The specialized trainings included: high-risk operations training and live fire range exercises, vehicle traffic and high-risk stops, and basic dignitary protection.
Held sports exchanges including three baseball games with the team that represented the State of Sonora in the 2017 National Olympiad as part of their preparation before state educational institutions of Arizona.
Held the Arizona-Sonora Tour Operators meeting with the participation of more than 90 tour operators from both states in an effort to promote tourism and business opportunities between Arizona and Sonora.
Creation of the Border Liaison Unit (BLU) to ensure better communication with the trucking industry on compliance initiatives, including training sessions on new inspection processes and compliance with United States and Arizona security requirements.
On December 2, 2016, the Environment and Water Committee of the Arizona-Mexico Commission and Comisión Sonora-Arizona published the first Arizona-Sonora Environmental Strategic Plan for 2017-2021. The plan outlines 15 priority projects on air quality, waste management, water quality and wildlife. The standard work of the committee is to develop action plans for projects as funding is allocated for them.