A regional partnership between the Mexican state of Tamaulipas and Texas will have a powerful impact on international trade and tourism, said Tomás Yarrington, governor of Tamaulipas, during a visit Thursday to The University of Texas-Pan American.
Yarrington's comments came in his speech, "In the Frontier of the Future - A Regional Partner with a Global Vision," before more than 250 people at the Engineering Building auditorium. It was preceded by a brief breakfast meeting with dignitaries from both Texas and Tamaulipas.
UTPA President Dr. Miguel A. Nevárez welcomed the group, saying its work was extremely important and the University wholeheartedly supported its efforts.
"One of the main missions of the University is public service, and we have 18 centers on this campus whose mission is to improve cross-cultural relations and contribute to the economic development of this region," Nevárez said.
Prior to his speech, Yarrington and mayors from cities ranging from Laredo to Brownsville in Texas and Nuevo Laredo to Matamoros in Tamaulipas signed a cooperative agreement between the two states promoting commerce, industry and tourism.
"The spirit of this conference and of the agreement we sign today demonstrates that there are no barriers to creating initiatives and solutions to our common challenges," Yarrington said.
"On the contrary, they show that Tamaulipecos and Texans live in an era of interaction - where cooperation, respectful association and good understanding are the characteristics that best describe it."
The accord has 19 goals, including creation of a strategic regional plan, development of the "Winter Texan" market, establishment of new border crossings and promoting the cleaning of the Rio Grande. UTPA officials will work with partners in Mexico at the Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas and Monterrey Tech on the initial benchmarking analysis.
"With this agreement, we set bases on key points of our economic and social life. We advance toward a better design for a joint strategic plan," Yarrington said. "We take concrete actions to promote investment, organize commercial missions, complement production processes and promote the establishment of cross-border corridors for the handling of goods, among many other aspects."
Yarrington reiterated those points in his speech, specifically focusing on the importance of education and job creation.
The governor listed five goals to improve education - strengthen the overall system, get professors more involved, improve cooperation between families and schools, increase infrastructure and school accessibility to everyone, and add new telecommunications and technology.
Reaching these education marks will result in more jobs, Yarrington said. He noted more than 47,000 jobs already have been created during his first year in office, well above the 30,000 initially proposed.
"As neighbors, we are facing many common challenges," he said. "I am convinced we have the capabilities to find common solutions."
Following the 10-minute speech was a 25-minute question-and-answer session with the public and a brief teleconference with officials at the Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas. Yarrington responded to questions about higher education, water and Mexico1s drinking laws.
"Governor Yarrington is one of the most dynamic leaders in Mexico today," said state Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville. "As we start the 21st century, we're on the right road for prosperity on both sides of the border. S We're fortunate to have this rising young star as our neighbor and our friend."