DiCiccio: It’s time to create a new chapter in Ariz. - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Opinion

DiCiccio: It’s time to create a new chapter in Ariz.

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Posted: Monday, February 17, 2014 11:45 am

We did something that most of us want to see happening in Washington, D.C. — we moved past the partisan bickering and came together for the people of Arizona, launching the International Trade and Commerce Committee.

This collaborative effort between state and city of Phoenix officials is unique because it takes the politics out of one of the most important economic opportunities we have: increasing trade, tourism and direct foreign investment from Mexico. It’s time to create a new chapter in Arizona and move forward towards a better future.

For our state to compete in this new global economy we must be faster, better and smarter than our competitors around the world. We also must recognize that we are a small state when you compare us to California and Texas, but we need to compete at that level.

Arizona commerce benefits from about $6 billion annually from our neighbors to the south, which sounds impressive until you hear that California’s efforts generate $40 billion and Texas brings in an astounding $95 billion, each year. Arizona is a small state next to those two power houses and it is critical to work collaboratively to improve job creation and job stability in our state and region. From Phoenix to Page, we must all be headed in the same direction and with the same goals.

While Texas and California also share a border with Mexico, Arizona truly is at the epicenter when it comes to trade opportunities — and we can no longer afford to miss out on our fair share of the economic benefits.

Last year Volaris, Mexico’s largest low-cost carrier, came to Phoenix Sky Harbor, offering direct daily flights between our two nations. This one win now generates millions each day for the Metropolitan Phoenix economy — but it took a commitment to make it happen.

Imagine what a partnership between Phoenix and the state could produce with representatives on the ground in Mexico every day telling the Arizona story and selling the Valley. That is exactly what we are going to do. Instead of hiring a lobbyist to try to sell us, we are creating a trade office, staffed with experts who will build the economic bridge between our countries.

This past year, the Arizona House of Representatives formed an International Trade and Commerce Delegation. Members of this delegation visited Mexico City to meet with key members of the Mexican Legislature such as president of the North America Foreign Affairs Committee, Sen. Marcela Guerra. One of the main topics on the agenda was to build a concrete relationship between Arizona and Mexico. Only by doing this will Arizona and the city of Phoenix be able to build a strong economic backbone and be a leader for international trade.

This bipartisan collaboration will foster direct economic investment in Arizona and Phoenix, creating jobs for our local economy and products to sell back to the people of Mexico. We will also encourage our neighbors to visit our state, increasing the estimated $7 million they currently spend here each day.

The exciting thing about this partnership is that it will pay off, in a matter of a couple of years. We will begin to encourage some of the billions heading to California and Texas to flow our way. This will be a win for the state of Arizona, the metropolitan Phoenix area, our local businesses and our residents.

We broke down party lines and joined together for one reason: the people of Arizona. Arizona’s partnership with Phoenix is only logical and strengthening our economic ties with Mexico is something long overdue.

• Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio, Phoenix City Councilman Michael Nowakowski, Rep. Tom Forese, committee chair, and Rep. Catherine Miranda, committee co-chair.

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