San Jose, Calif., recently added Guadalajara to its sister city program, which should help boost economic development for both cities.
City officials in San Jose, the California tech mecca in the heart of Silicon Valley, recently formed a link with Guadalajara that comprises the third leg in a “digital triangle” between the two cities and Dublin, Ireland.
The San Jose City Council voted unanimously to approve Guadalajara as a sister city on earlier this month, said Joe Hedges, the international program manager in the city’s economic development office. San Jose has had a sister city relationship with Dublin since 1986. It’s been a strong linkage contributing to the exchange of arts, culture, investment and education opportunities, as well as spurring economic development.
San Jose and Guadalajara already have a strong connection, and Hedges said the sister city affiliation will only fortify that.
Guadalajara and Dublin, which already has a thriving digital hub, also recently became sister cities. The mayor of Dublin recently visited the western Mexican city to share ideas about how to build a thriving digital creative economy, which is something Guadalajara has been working toward with its Creative Digital Cities project and other initiatives.
Pedro Ruíz Gutiérrrez, Guadalajara’s Secretary of Economic Promotion, said the relationships with San Jose and Dublin will help Guadalajara as it develops its own Creative Digital City, or Ciudad Creativa Digital. Local media firm, Kaxan Media Group, recently became the first occupant in Guadalajara’s planned digital hub in its historic downtown.
The idea is to create an ecosystem for creative content producers to thrive in Guadalajara and build upon an existing framework of mobile app and software developers already here. The Creative Digital City can help attract larger digital media production companies, which can then contribute to small and medium sized business growth here.
On top of that is the effort to build upon education opportunities—and to take advantage of international opportunities like those being established with San Jose and Dublin—to make sure there’s available talent in Guadalajara for a productive technology hub to continue growing.
“There’s been an effort to shift to a knowledge economy,” Ruíz Gutiérrez said.
Also, in an increasingly global world, it’s important for cities to develop their own relationships with other international metropolitan areas. While state and federal officials have built such connections in the past, priorities can vary widely among the different layers of government. For example, the state of Jalisco as a whole has a strong interest in agricultural exports, so that’s a prime concern for the governor but not necessarily for city officials in Guadalajara.
Ruíz Gutiérrez said that while local representatives will certainly continue to work together with other levels of the government, it’s crucial that they build their own international relationships, especially those that help build a creative, technological economy.
For its part, San Jose has a rather stringent process for adopting the sister city label and Guadalajara is the first new one in 22 years, Hedges said. The decision isn’t entered into lightly, and it’s only done when there’s a true vision for the two cities to thrive together.
In a letter to San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, Jeff Campbell, Americas Vice President for the networking company Cisco Systems said: “Cisco is very interested in the transformational potential of the San Jose-Dublin-Guadalajara linkages and the synergies they could provide.”
In voicing support for the sister city affiliation, Campbell points out Cisco’s significant presence in the Mexican community. “In addition to the 50-plus employees situated in Guadalajara and through our contract manufacturers we export products worth $6 billion per year from this city and support a significant number of indirect jobs in the region and in North America,” he writes.
Dale Quinn is a freelance journalist based in Guadalajara, Mexico. He’s most recently written about technology, real estate and security issues faced by international companies. His work has appeared in The Financialist, an online magazine published by Credit Suisse, and in the Institutional Real Estate Inc.’s Americas letter. Before moving to Mexico, he worked as a business reporter for the Arizona Daily Star, where he covered the housing crisis in the wake of the financial meltdown.