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This week, the North America Competitiveness Working Group will convene in San Diego for its third session to discuss advancing North American economic integration. The group will cross the border into Mexico to experience both the unique challenges of integration as well as some of the creative solutions that have been developed in the region. The second day will be devoted to in-depth policy conversations about human capital, border infrastructure, and energy in North America.
The first stop includes a briefing at the El Chaparral facility, a newly constructed border crossing built by Mexico between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, part of a major investment by both governments to increase the capacity of the busiest land border crossing in the world. This multi-year project, with a total price tag of almost $1 billion, is an example of the U.S. and Mexican governments working successfully to coordinate border infrastructure projects – and, at the same time, a case in point of how this cooperation can fall short.
The group will also visit two more locations that serve as testaments to some of the innovative thinking found in the region. One site is the Cross Border Xpress, a terminal in the Tijuana airport that can be accessed by passengers who park in San Diego, process through customs and immigration, and walk across the border via a skywalk bridge. This allows San Diego-based travelers to benefit more easily from the Tijuana airport’s Mexican, Latin American and trans-Pacific route network without the potentially long delays associated with crossing the border at a typical vehicle checkpoint.
Another site is Energia Sierra Juarez, Sempra Energy’s wind farm located east of Tecate, Mexico. This wind farm is located entirely in Mexico, but currently sells all the electricity it generates to consumers in San Diego. This is a great example of the opportunities of cross-border energy trade – and points the way toward private-sector engagement in Mexico’s electricity market as its reforms take effect.
These site visits will give the working group a more realistic picture of the challenges and successes along the border, as well as valuable insights into the policy objectives of the North America Initiative.
Ashley McConkey manages communications for the George W. Bush Presidential Center and is responsible for message development on behalf of the Economic Growth, Human Freedom and Military Service initiatives.
Before joining the Bush Center, McConkey worked in the communications and public policy arena in Austin, Texas for both non-profit and corporate entities. She also served as a Budget and Policy Adviser to Texas House Speaker Joe Straus.
McConkey grew up in Greenville, Texas and moved to Austin to study Political Science at St. Edward’s University. She and her husband reside in Dallas.Full Bio
Laura Collins serves as Director, Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. Collins previously served as the Director of Immigration Policy at the American Action Forum. She has experience in politics, working as a Senior Research Analyst at the Republican National Committee for the 2012 election cycle and in the Texas House of Representatives for the 82nd Legislature. A former practicing attorney, Collins earned a JD from The University of Texas School of Law and a BBA from the University of Oklahoma.Full Bio
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