Mexican Consul Eduardo Baca’s Tri-City stop is part of an effort to strengthen economic relations between Mexico and Washington state.
The two days jam-packed with meetings with Tri-City port officials and business leaders were the newly appointed consul’s first official visit outside Seattle.
Last year, trade between Mexico and the state doubled to about $3 billion, Baca said. That trade includes not only agricultural products such as apples, but also transportation and energy.
“I think there is still room for growth,” he said.
The Tri-Cities’ large Mexican community and its agricultural and high-tech industries are among the reasons Baca said he was visiting the Tri-Cities.
Friday afternoon, Diahann Howard, the Port of Benton’s director of economic development and governmental affairs, gave Baca and his team an overview of the Tri-Cities Research District, the Wine Science Center and the Tri-City Development Council’s request for 1,641 acres of uncontaminated land in southern Hanford for economic development, including an energy hub.
Baca also heard about the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory from Cheryl Cejka, PNNL’s director of technology deployment and outreach. Baca told them PNNL’s focal points are very much linked to priorities of the Mexican government.
He said they have been looking at environmental issues, including climate change, as well as ways to address energy issues.
He said his nation may be able to benefit from the Tri-Cities’ energy industry, specifically nuclear energy and biofuels.
Energy reform is currently a hot topic in Mexico, and whatever reform occurs will create a need for the nation to keep up with innovation and technology in energy, Baca said.
Howard, who serves as the Tri-Cities Research District’s executive director, said they hope the consul’s visit will help create opportunities for partnership in clean energy and research and development.
The Tri-Cities may be able to help Mexico with some of its energy issues.
She hopes they may attract something like GCL Solar, a Chinese company that opened a research and development office and a small lab in Richland.
It’s the first time Howard can recall that the Mexican consul from Seattle has made a business visit to the Tri-Cities.
Baca said he hopes it will be the first of many visits to create business opportunities between the area and Mexico. They hope to find opportunities not only for Mexican investment in the state, but also for local investment in Mexico.
Also visiting with Baca was Itzam de Gortari, CEO of TechBA Seattle, which is funded by the Mexican government to help small Mexican companies compete internationally. De Gortari told Howard he can bring in scientists, companies and investment.