The administration of Governor Miguel Márquez Márquez left office on Wednesday, with Diego Sinhué taking over the highest position in the government of the state of Guanajuato. Márquez became Governor in 2012 and led a state administration that supported the development of its automotive industry.
During his term, Guanajuato received a total FDI of US$10.9 billion, which was 125 percent higher than the state captured in the previous administration. During this period, several OEMs arrived and either started production or prepared to start operations.
For instance, Ford opened a new transmission manufacturing plant in Irapuato in 2015 and Volkswagen arrived to Silao in 2013 and started producing engines at one of Guanajuato Puerto Interior’s industrial parks. In terms of vehicle assembly processes, Mazda opened a facility in Salamanca in 2014, Honda opened two plants in Celaya in 2014 and 2015 and Toyota arrived to Apaseo el Grande with plans to start assembling vehicles in 2019.
Upon receiving the Automotive Leadership Award in 2014, Márquez underlined the role that automotive production played in the state’s economy. “What is good for the automotive industry is good for Guanajuato,” he said. “It has become the backbone of the state.”
As the twilight of his government approached, Mexico Automotive Review approached Governor Márquez to find out what were the most important automotive milestones reached by Guanajuato and where the state could be headed under a new administration.
This is an excerpt from an exclusive interview with Miguel Márquez Márquez, former Governor of the State of Guanajuato, that was first published in the 2018 edition of Mexico Automotive Review. Get your hard copy of the book or check out the digital version to get the full article plus more insights from key decision-makers shaping the Mexican automotive Industry.x|
Q: What would you consider the highlights of your administration regarding new investment?
A: During this administration, we have consolidated Guanajuato as the biggest automotive cluster in Latin America. We have assembly plants belonging to OEMs such as Mazda, Honda and GM, as well as component manufacturing facilities from others such as Ford and Volkswagen. Toyota will shortly finalize the construction of its new venture in the country. By 2020, we expect Guanajuato will be the main vehicle producer in Mexico and Latin America.
In terms of foreign direct investment, we had projected a total of US$5 billion by the end of the administration but we will close our six-year period with almost US$13 billion in new projects. Consequently, we have had a great impact on the state’s unemployment rate, driving it down to 3.5 percent, which is barely above the national average of 3.1 percent. Guanajuato has recently been among the main states regarding job creation and by the end of the administration, we will have generated 300,000 new positions. Only in 2017, 62,000 new jobs were created, leading to an average of 50,000 new positions per year.
Q: How is Guanajuato helping SMEs to adopt digitalization and technology into their processes?
A: In 2017, Guanajuato was the first state in the world to declare a year focused on innovation. We collaborated with UNESCO to diagnose how the state was doing regarding
technology and what we want to achieve by 2040. This initiative went beyond the industry and included cultural, sports, agricultural and other elements that could help Guanajuato reach the concept of Industry and Company 4.0. We also organized the Innovation Forum, which was one of the most important technology events in Latin America, and we established the basis for this to be an annual event in Guanajuato.
We want the state to be committed to the idea of Industry 4.0. Today, we have eight innovation parks, supported by a strong network of universities and research institutions. Moreover, Guanajuato is third for patent registrations nationally according to the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property and first in GDP generation due to patent registrations according to UNESCO. We went from zero innovation in the state to leading our nation’s committee to the World Educational Robot Contest with nine students from Guanajuato out of the 15 that traveled to Shanghai to compete.
Q: Considering Guanajuato’s 2040 vision, what should be the state’s priorities to maintain the growth momentum?
A: Creating and maintaining trust of new investors should be a priority. Our administration was built on trust and delivering on our promises regardless of the contracts we might sign. Especially in an uncertain environment, the best thing we can offer companies is confidence regarding their investment no matter what. Furthermore, we must consider ourselves as account managers, which means that we must follow up on any relationship we establish with new investors. We are allies and partners throughout the lifetime of their investment and not just while the plant is being built.
Education must also be a priority to ensure growth. The state must continue supporting academic institutions and incentivizing the establishment of dual-education programs. At the same time, we must not lose our logistics competitiveness. By the end of the year, we will deliver the Celaya railway bypass and in our 2040 plan we foresee the construction of another bypass in Irapuato. Similarly, Guanajuato must focus its efforts on the development of an integrated mobility strategy that includes a passenger train for people that travel from one city to another on a daily basis. We also met with Hyperloop One in Los Angeles to learn about their project to build a hyperloop train that would go from Mexico to Queretaro, Leon and Guadalajara. We will pass that information to the new administration.