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May 9, 2013

Host: José Cárdenas

Binational Economic Forum

  |   Video
  • Nine mayors, and a number of other elected officials, business leaders, and economic development staff from the Valley participated in a binational economic forum in Mexico. Litchfield Park Mayor Thomas Schoaf, Chair of the Maricopa Association of Governments Economic Development Committee; and Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane, Chair of the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Transportation Policy Committee talk about the forum which focused on border trade relations and economic development.
  • Thomas Schoaf - Litchfield Park Mayor, Chair of the Maricopa Association of Governments Economic Development Committee
  • Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane - Chair, Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Transportation Policy Committee
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: trade relations, economic development,

View Transcript
Josè Càrdenas: Last month Arizona mayors business leaders and other elected officials participated in a binational economic forum in Mexico. We'll talk to two of the valley mayors who wept on the trip. Here's what a couple of other mayors said at the forum.

Marie Lopez Rogers: Also want to say that there are many cities and towns that understand, that rely, that the economic value between both of our countries. Thank you so much for the invitation. Thank you for welcoming us. I do appreciate the welcome home. Thank you.

Greg Stanton: What is our citizen's face of the future? What can we do with our time, effort and political capital to help the citizens of Arizona? We decided through MAG, we decided that building closer economic ties with Sonora, with Nogales and with Mexico as a whole is one of the best things we can do for representing the people of our community.

Josè Càrdenas: Joining me to talk about the forum is Scottsdale mayor Jim lane. Transportation policy committee. Also here Litchfield Park Mayor Thomas Schoaf. Mayor Schoaf, why is this of importance to Arizona?

Thomas Schoaf: We found when we started looking into the economic development and economic activity in Arizona as one of the reactions that we had to the great depression that we just are coming out of we looked at it about three years ago and found that on average we have 65,000 visitors from Mexico each and every day. Legal visitors that are coming here for business and for leisure and for pleasure trips. We found that they were spending $7 million a day on average each day of the year. So over $2.7 billion coming into the economy in the state of Arizona. Quite frankly as mayors we didn't even know they existed. We didn't know the level of business activity was that high, so that led us down a path of looking for ways that we could improve the business climate here so that we can encourage more business to be done with our neighbor to the south.

Josè Càrdenas: Mayor lane, as I understand it, one of the responses was the precursor to the most recent conference. You did basically the same in Phoenix.

Jim Lane: Exactly. Through MAG, our economic development committee, which is an integral part of this process through MAG, we had an invitation to those officials from Mexico to come here to the valley and visit with us. It was very well responded to and frankly it was a very positive event. It was more introductory as we try to reconnect I suppose this valley and maybe even the state with some of our partners in the past in the state of Sonora. It was a very good start and they reciprocated by the invitation too.

Josè Càrdenas: How would you characterize the one we just went to?

Jim Lane: I would say just as Mayor Schoaf indicated I think you really have a situation where we have recognized historically there's been a great and close association -- I'll focus specifically on state of Sonora because that's our closest state in Mexico that we dealt with for many, many years. And ourselves. That there are a number of things that are happening with our economy both here in the United States and in Mexico. Mexico has had some significant improvements in their investment, availability of investment in their community. That has proven to be one of those areas even now in near shoring production comes back from the Far East, near shoring in Mexico becomes much more attractive. Obviously being that much closer to their markets or the markets that even the Far East has developed here in the United States and in North America, Mexico is a fantastic alternative for it. The labor capital available in Mexico is still on a very positive side but it's growing. I think it's now slated to be the 14th largest economy in the world. So that's going to make it certainly has been a very valued partner for Arizona and our major trading partner for Arizona.

Josè Càrdenas: Mayor Schoaf, as I understand it, the participants that U.S. delegates went there, mayors from the valley here and from Tucson, one of the things the Mexicans tried to impress upon you was the level of sophistication of the industry south of the border.

Thomas Schoaf: That's true. The near shoring is being driven by the cost advantages of doing business in Mexico now as compared to some of the areas in the Far East. But it's supported by the fact that the work force in Mexico is tremendously sophisticated. They have a very strong education system in Mexico to train workers. They have systems so that when we bring in a new plant the local governments and local universities partner and produce literally a trained work force for employers when they open shop. So they were trying to get across to us as their visitor the level of sophistication that's available for those doing business in Mexico.

Josè Càrdenas: As I understand one of the ways they did that was take you to a major operation by a German company in Nogales.

Thomas Schoaf: We visited continental A.G., an automotive supplier worldwide. They have a very significant plant in Nogales in building radios and electronic components used in Ford and I think Chrysler automobiles.

Josè Càrdenas: Mayor Lane, the committee you head is transportation. How does that all factor into this?

Jim Lane: A lot of the focus has been on recently certainly working together with Pinal and Pima County in the Sun corridor, meant to be a developing area as far as an inland port in conjunction with the infrastructure, the union Pacific and sea of Cortez. Those are added attractions for this marketplace in North America because there's an awful lot of routing now going through Long Beach which is running at about 100% even with the economy as it is right now, so there is a need to provide some alternatives that are quicker and easier and frankly for routing into Arizona. To develop an inland port where we would have value add in Arizona, utilize the traffic that exists in our exports on the back whether it goes to the Far East or other parts of the world through those ports in Mexico as well. If I could say, one of the important aspects of this that probably goes beyond all else is the developing of a relationship with Mexico on an even sense of equality of our commerce in the trade back and forth. I don't mean to say we never run a trade deficit one way or the other but that we are basically working with one another for advantages that Mexico has and the advantages that the U.S. has in certain markets and the exchange. It's a positive environment growing very fast.

Josè Càrdenas: Thank you both for joining us on Horizonte.

Education Nation

  |   Video
  • The Education Nation is an NBC News' year-round initiative to engage the country in a conversation about the state of education in America. Arizona Literacy Director Terri Clark and First Things First Vice President of External Affairs, Sam Leyvas, talk about the Education Nation and literacy in Arizona.
  • Terri Clark - Arizona Literacy Director
  • Sam Leyvas - Vice President of External Affairs, First Things First
Category: Education   |   Keywords: education, literacy,

View Transcript
Josè Càrdenas: The education nation is an NBC news year round initiative to engage the country in the conversation about the state of education in America. Last week education nation was in Phoenix. We'll talk to the two people who will talk about the summit as well as literacy issue in a moment. First here's what some of the panelists had to say about the achievement gap in our state.

Rhian Evans Allvin: We should be focusing on making sure that we invest in kids at a really early age. We know from all of the science, from the research if they’ve got language proficiency they will be fine. We really have to say I don't agree this is an issue of race. I think it's an issue of poverty. We have many, many children who are English language speakers who are illiterate and come to school not ready to decode and do all the complex things that the common core requires of them. It's a language issue and the thing that's frustrating is that we know how to fix it. We know what happens when you're in a home where there's a lot of print material and families are having conversations and kids are exposed to high quality learning, they are not just in custodial care when they are in child care, and they are in early learning experiences we know they are going to be okay.

Joy Weiss: I think that we are going to continue to have an achievement gap between white and Hispanics. I would agree it's more about poverty than race. Coming out of the district I'm coming from where a large percentage of our students are refugees, migrant, Mexican Americans. We don't have a lot of the white middle class that we would label kids in those races. We're looking at poverty. When we're so focused on reading we may start to feel we need to narrow the curriculum once again which is what we tried to do with No Child Left Behind. We have to forget that model of narrowing.

Josè Càrdenas: Joining me is Terri Clark, Arizona literacy director. She was on one of the panels talking about early literacy. Also here is Sam LEYVAS, vice president of external affairs for first things first. Before we talk about that, give us some background on education nation.

Terri Clark: Sure. Education nation this year did three local sort of summits. They started in Milwaukee I believe, then New Orleans, ended in Phoenix. It was really exciting. This is the first time they focused on early literacy in one of their panels. They did three sessions of town halls and panels focusing on education and what's innovative and what our challenges are.

Josè Càrdenas: It's going on as we speak and won't be over until Friday?

Terri Clark: There's various events going on throughout the week, but they did an opening ceremony on Thursday, they had four panel sessions of the town hall on Friday.

Josè Càrdenas: You were on one of those that focused on the gap. I want to talk about that in a moment. Before I do that, Sam, this is a subject of particular interest to first things first. Kind of give us a sense of the state of Arizona in this regard from the perspective of your organization.

Sam Leyvas: You're right. It is of particular interest to first things first. 90% of a child's brain development happens in the first five years of life it can lay a foundation for a lifetime. We think it's crucial that we help provide parents tools they need to help kids have stable, nurturing environments. We partner to help parents in their roles as their child's first and best teacher.

Josè Càrdenas: You’re literacy director for the state of Arizona.

Terri Clark: That's one of the reasons we were selected from education nation because it's a unique collaboration. Arizona has a state literacy director, that's my position, actually shared between six founding partners. The State Department of education, first things first, the head start state collaboration office and three education foundations. Piper charitable trust and Arizona community foundation. What the director gets to do is coordinate the services along the continuum. It was clear to us that you can't fix this literacy issue unless you're dealing with the whole continuum, birth to age eight. That critical milestone of 3rd grade is the last stop. The first step starts with day one.

Josè Càrdenas: As I understand it while this was a very useful discussion, some people thought there was too much focus on that critical stop as opposed to getting started at the very beginning.

Terri Clark: I'm probably one of those that felt that. I think the retention policy is important for people to know about and to understand how it might impact them and their child and their student but it's more important to understand that that has to be the last sort of line of defense, not the first place that we focus. How much families can do and what they can do to get their kids ready before they even enter kindergarten. That's the half-way point. That's what we need to look at what. Are we doing in the first few years that are critical to their brain developments, language acquisition and literacy skills that are so important; vocabulary a leading indicator of success later on.

Josè Càrdenas: Everything in the papers, about the last three, four weeks, was or curriculum, standards and whether this was a plot by the U.N. to take over our decision making here. Not much discussion of the kinds of issues you're focused on.

Sam Leyvas: Terri is right. Helping parents to understand that it's really every day moments that can be learning moments. It can be simple as trips in the grocery store, having lots of bridge communication and dialogue working with kids to look at apples and point out different colors. Having lots of rich material, learning reading material around the home. Thinking about the interactions being the important piece of early learning and development, cognitive skills, social skills, development skills.

Josè Càrdenas: How do you communicate that to the parents? What kind of strategies are you employing now?

Terri Clark: We have great family engagement strategies. We're working with our partners to pilot them in a number of our communities, but it's as simple as messaging that reading is important. Reading with meaningful interaction is important, also telling stories and talking. Talking as much to your young children as much as possible in whatever language you're most comfortable in is actually going to set them up for success when they develop and are learning English or are already a dual language learner. We're really trying to teach families what that means to a great example of in the grocery store you can describe three types of parents. One a child points at an eggplant and the parent says, oh, you won't like that let’s go, we're late. Let's go. The second parent may say that's an eggplant and you cook with it. The third parent says, oh, isn't that an interesting vegetable? It's purple. Isn't it a funny shape? You can make lot of yummy things with an eggplant. You can do that any place, anytime, anywhere during the day. It doesn't have to just be when you sit down with a book.

Josè Càrdenas: On the achievement gap, how important is the role that your organization plays?

Sam Leyvas: I think we're one of many partners in the early childhood system. We play an important role but I think getting kids ready for school is really a community role. I think we all have a vested interest in making sure that that happens.

Josè Càrdenas: Thank you both for joining us to talk about this subject. Certainly an important issue for the state of Arizona.

President Obama Latin America Trip

  |   Video
  • President Obama traveled to Latin America. He met with the new President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, to talk about border and trade issues. Arizona State University Assistant Professor for the School of Letters and Sciences, Dr. Jaime Aguila, talks about U.S. ad Mexico relations.
  • Dr. Jaime Aguila - Assistant Professor for the School of Letters and Sciences
  • Arizona State University
Keywords: border, trade, Mexico,

View Transcript
Josè Càrdenas: Thank you for joining us. Last week president Barack Obama traveled to Latin America and Mexico. He met with the president of Mexico to talk about trade and border issues. Joining me to talk about the trip is Dr. Jaime Aguila. Professor Aguila, thank you for joining us. You are a professor of Mexican history This is a subject you're very well-versed on. First, tell us the highlights of President Obama's visit to Mexico.

Dr. Jaime Aguila: Well, any time U.S. president goes to Mexico it's always a boost for the country, a boost for the administration, especially Barack Obama, who has this John F. Kennedy aura about him being our first African-American president, in that regard he has a lot of cache. However he's also president of the United States during an era of economic recession, during a time of troubled border problems. There was a tremendous amount of demonstration by students and young people. It's the economy that Mexicans wanted to hear about.

Josè Càrdenas: There was a lot of talking and buildup to the trip that focus would be on the economy. Quotes from President Pena Nieto that we needed to change the dialogue from security issues, from drug violence to what they consider much more important issue, which is economic trade.

Dr. Jaime Aguila: Especially the first time he's been in the office for years, certainly both administrations need the economy to grow here in the United States, pull us out of the recession to implement their domestic agendas. Certainly immigration and border security are issues that all Americans, all Mexicans want to hear about but without economic growth for both countries and because of the 1994 NAFTA agreement we need economic growth in order to be able to pay for other domestic policies and certainly positive economic times we certainly hope will minimize the border problems.

Josè Càrdenas: Before we talk about the specifics of the discussions of the two presidents tell us about the student protests.

Dr. Jaime Aguila: Well, the student protests really began during Pena Nieto's campaign to win the presidency. Were really attacks on young college students, high school age college students criticizing and warning Mexico of the return back to corrupt practices. There's still a lot of energy. One of the biggest changes is that civic society, especially the younger generations, are much more in power, feel a tremendous sense of power being able to change the dialogue or influence the dialogue. These groups are there and made themselves heard again.

Josè Càrdenas: You said President Obama addressed that.

Dr. Jaime Aguila: On the second day he spoke to a group of students talking about the prosperity, the need for both countries to work on improving relations, breaking stereotypes that frequently marginalize or minimize opportunities for improvement, for better relations. He spoke to improving higher education; certainly that's one of Pena Nieto's objectives. His domestic agenda. So I think that was a smart move on President Obama's part to speak with the younger generation because they are much more educated generation than in years past.

Josè Càrdenas: In terms of the economic issues what did the two presidents talk about and were there any concrete agreements?

Dr. Jaime Aguila: There was an accord to improve exchange programs. It's not necessarily new, but President Obama spoke of using an exchange program, increasing the opportunities for graduate exchanges, undergraduate exchanges, to help both societies get to know each other better, certainly commitment in term of grant money, scholarship money. I'll give you a statistic. In 2006 one out of 20 Mexican immigrants came to the United States both documented and undocumented. One in 20 had a bachelor's degree. Today it's one out of ten have a bachelor's degree. Mexican society still has technical and poverty problems but it's a much more educated society than ten years ago.

Josè Càrdenas: The fact you have so many educated Mexicans coming north is a reflection of the economic problems south of the border.

Dr. Jaime Aguila: Mexican economy recently has been doing well. Pena Nieto promises 5% growth per year during his administration, which I think is a little high but those are her objectives based on 21st century economic growth it's possible.

Josè Càrdenas: They talked mostly about trade. Almost no discussion about drug issues, yet there's been discussion in the media about some tensions in that area. At least not as much cooperation as there had been in the Calderon administration.

Dr. Jaime Aguila: One of the highlights of the Calderon administration was he improved relations between all our agencies on both sides of the border combatting border security. He allowed agencies, their peers in each country to have direct access. Pena Nieto has changed that. They have to go through the Secretary of the Interior so U.S. agencies, DEA, DHS, they are very concerned that the bureaucracy is going to get in the way of dealing with issues that need to be dealt with quickly.

Josè Càrdenas: Is this something we think the two discussed privately?

Dr. Jaime Aguila: Without a doubt. On one hand, as we spoke earlier, Senator Leahy, who is head of the Senate subcommittee that deals with Department of State funding is holding up $256 million until the Mexicans provide Pena Nieto provides specifics about how the new system, this new program of communication is going to work. That had to have been spoken about and had to have been spoken about behind closed doors. That type situation needs to be dealt with, there needs to be a clear understanding going forward in fight the drug traffickers.

Josè Càrdenas: President Obama and President Pena Nieto looks like they are getting off to a good start. Thank you. We hope to have you back soon.

Dr. Jaime Aguila: Thank you.