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Cross-Border Consulting Program Unveils Economic Potential in Imperial Valley and Mexicali Region


The Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation (IVEDC) is set to benefit from an innovative program known as Cross Border Consulting, aimed at identifying and addressing economic development opportunities in the region. The program is based out of the Wendy Gallespi Center for Advancing International Trade located at San Diego State University. This collaborative initiative brings together MBA and various graduate level students completing degrees in Global Policy, International Affairs, and Human Resources. These students are from prestigious universities and will work closely with business clients, enabling them to tackle cross-border challenges and explore untapped potential.

The Cross Border Consulting program is a four-month research endeavor that allows consultants to conduct in-depth research on the Imperial Valley and Mexicali region. By delving into the unique needs and opportunities present in this cross-border area, these students will provide strategic insights to businesses and organizations, ultimately fostering economic growth and development.

Under the program, a consortium of regional universities, including San Diego State University, University of San Diego, CETYS – Tijuana and Mexicali, and University of California San Diego, have joined hands to offer their expertise and resources. By leveraging the knowledge and skills of these talented individuals, the Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation aims to unleash the untapped potential of the region and create a more prosperous future for its residents.

Timothy Kelley, President and CEO of IVEDC, said that Mexicali and Imperial County lack the data to be able to market this area because the population (190 thousand) of Imperial County falls below the threshold of site selectors. Not only is our workforce greater together but our economy as well.

“We can show that our economy does not stop at the border there are positive impacts that Mexicali has on Imperial County and Imperial County on Mexicali,” Kelley said. “We are actively trying to gather that information as a tool for us to market the regional collaboratively.”

Kelley added that having a third party analysis on the region is very helpful and highlights the availability of land, water, energy, training facilities, cost of operation, and workforce. 

Imperial Valley, located in the southeastern part of California, boasts a strategic geographic location that presents immense opportunities for cross-border trade and investment. With Mexicali, the capital city of Baja California, Mexico, situated just across the border, has the potential to emerge as a vital economic hub. However, to fully harness this potential, it is crucial to identify and address the specific challenges and opportunities that exist in this unique cross-border environment.

Through the Cross Border Consulting program, graduate MBA students will work directly with businesses and organizations in the region to conduct comprehensive research. By understanding their needs, aspirations, and challenges, these consultants will provide valuable insights and recommendations to enhance their operations and unlock growth opportunities.

According to Alberto Guzman Romero, a consultant on the cross-border project attending the University of San Diego, the comprehensive analysis they are working on is to better address the border regions across U.S. and Mexico, the challenges they face and how the Imperial Valley can show a value proposition for businesses looking to come to the Imperial Valley. The availability of land, infrastructure, workforce, and utilities and make the Imperial Valley competitive. Its proximity to the border makes import-export opportunities ideal.

“The analysis is going to be statistical and will include surveys and information we can obtain by talking to our Mexican counterparts,” Guzman Romero said. Programs such as Foreign Trade Zone, North American Development Bank, and others add to the uniqueness of the region. 

Paula Jaramillo, graduate student from Colombia attending UCSD, added that the goal is to compare the Imperial Valley with other areas that have seen an increase in population, more housing, and job creation, analyze those trends, and see how that can become a guide to attract investment to Imperial Valley. 

The Imperial Valley Economic Development Corporation recognizes the importance of nurturing cross-border collaborations and leveraging the talent and expertise of students from prestigious universities. By engaging with the Cross Border Consulting program, the IVEDC aims to strengthen the region’s economy, attract investment, and cultivate a favorable business environment that benefits both sides of the border. This project continues two previous initiatives founded by IVEDC, Calibaja Binantional Mega Region, and Imperial-Mexicali Binational Alliance

IVEDC is a partnership of private enterprise and local government united by the common vision of expanding and diversifying the economy. As Imperial County’s official economic development organization, IVEDC promotes a robust and diversified economy. With the collaboration of strategic alliances and the border community, IVEDC facilitates regional development and stimulates target industries such as agricultural production, energy, data centers, biofuels, mineral extraction, logistics and manufacturing. 

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