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April 7, 2014

Boomtowns at center of economic growth in Mexico


Although most news Americans hear about Mexico concerns drug cartels, violence and illegal immigration, the country’s economic growth is bringing economic stability and safety to a growing number of Mexico’s 120 million people.

At the center of Mexico’s burgeoning new economy are boomtowns like Querétaro, which last year had the highest growth in foreign direct investment of all the cities in the world.

Among the companies investing there are Bombardier, American Airlines, Aeromexico, Samsung, Honda, Siemens and General Electric. Bombardier, a Canadian company that produces the Learjet aircraft, has grown its Querétaro division from 45 employees to 1,800. Two dozen more aviation companies joined them in the area.

To provide the skilled labor needed to work at these companies, Querétaro’s leaders established an aeronautical university in a vast hangar next to the city’s air field.

The Mexican government plans on implementing reforms that hope to extend economic stability and safety beyond places like Querétaro.

Last year Mexico’s 47-year-old president Enrique Peña Nieto began his term of office with a dramatic series of reforms to open up the Mexican economy, including breaking the state’s 75-year monopoly on oil and increasing competition by passing new tax and banking reforms.

Though Mexico’s economy slipped in the last quarter of 2013, economists expect growth to rebound. And this February the credit agency Moody’s upgraded Mexico to an A rating — on hopes Peña Nieto’s government will put those reforms into action.

Warm up questions
  1. Where is Mexico?
  2. Typically when we hear of Mexico on the news, what do you hear about?
  3. How does the news advance certain stereotypes about people? How does the news shape how we think about particular countries and their citizens?
Discussion questions
  1. How are states like Querétaro changing their economy? What role do foreign investors play?
  2. How could their example be replicated in other parts of Mexico or even the United States?
  3. How is the economic boom changing the lives of the people who live in Querétaro?
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