Queretaro’s industrial and technology parks have played a key role in the growth of the state’s economy, bringing enormous activity in the aerospace, automotive, information technology and biotechnology sectors. Today the state is becoming attractive for global companies like Huawei. The Chinese telecom maker recently announced a US$1.5 billion investment to construct an Innovation Center comprised of four ITC facilities that will be built over the next five years and will generate more than 1,000 jobs.
According to the latest data from Mexico’s National Institute of Geography and Statistics (INEGI), Queretaro reported one of the fastest growth rates of all Mexican states in 2014. It also features prominently among the ten Mexican states that receive the most foreign direct investment and hopes to raise as much as US$700 million per year.
Currently there are just over 20 industrial, logistics and technology parks located across Queretaro and the surrounding municipalities of El Marques, Corregidora, San Juan del Rio and Tequisquiapan. These include: the Queretaro Aerospace Park, the Bernardo Quintana Industrial Park, the Benito Juarez Industrial Park, the Finsa Industrial Park, the Queretaro Technology Innovation Park, and the most recent addition: the Vortice ITech Park, built by ICT cluster inteQsoft.
“The Queretaro Industrial Park is one of the oldest and has both a technology and metal-mechanics department, where businesses such as Samsung can be found. Given its significance, it has been classified as an industrial park par excellence,” stated Jorge Castañares, Business Manager at Aguirre Newman Mexico and real estate specialist and professor, in an interview with Nearshore Americas. “Recently we have seen the development of several new parks, such as those located in El Marques, or the Bernardo Quintana Park. They are much more modern and of world-class quality.”
The Queretaro Technology Innovation Park (PTIC) is one of the newest parks in the state. Built by Advance Real Estate in the municipality of El Marques, with an investment somewhere in the area of 600 million pesos, PTIC covers a total area of 170 hectares, 130 of which are split up into 100 lots ranging from 8,000 square meters to ten hectares, explained Development Manager Mauricio Solana. “We work with well-thought out, grounded building regulations that we have developed based on experience we’ve accumulated while working on other projects. These regulations are clearly structured to protect the investment of those building and operating the park,” Solana said.
The park currently accommodates over 25 businesses, including Alestra, Nike, Guhring, Oechsler and Aceros 2000, among others. This figure could well rise to 200 over the next few years, while, according to Solana, the second and third stages of development will be completed in the coming year, leaving the park completely urbanized.
Solana emphasized the support provided by the state’s Economic Ministry, which is in contact with a large number of foreign investors who are looking to invest and operate in Queretaro and are searching for a space to set up. Advance Real Estate also provides the services of its marketing and sales teams, who work closely with organizations such as ProMexico and with local brokers.
The PTIC accommodates businesses specializing in technology as well as businesses from the aerospace, automotive, food and services sectors. “It’s a space open to anyone wanting to advance the industry and its business production,” Solana said.
Construction of the Vortice IT Park has recently commenced. This park makes “living labs” and spaces for innovation space available to technology businesses, universities and research centers.
The park’s director, Cuauhtemoc Acevedo explained that it is an initiative of the Queretaro Information and Communication Technology cluster (inteQsoft), which was founded in 2006 and currently includes 108 ICT businesses, 11 academic institutions and three research centers.
“Vortice IT Park is located in the area known as Ciudad Maderas, adjacent to the Queretaro metropolitan area. As a project, it has backing from both federal and state government, as well as from private initiatives,” Acevedo said. The project comprises three buildings. According to Acevedo, the first building will have room to accommodate 22 businesses; the second, around 30; and the third (and largest) will have room for another 50 or more enterprises.
“The project is enormous and we are advancing by stages; we’re talking about an area of some 2.5 hectares. It’s a project based on the concept of creating smart cities in Mexico,” he notes. “We are looking to add value and knowledge – building the cities of the future.”
In this sense, Ciudad Maderas will be the first smart city of its kind in Mexico. Stretching over nearly 400 hectares, it will include technology businesses, hotels, universities, residential areas and even a church, and will use sustainable energy such as wind power and solar.
According to Acevedo, there are four “anchors” involved in the development of this city: the Mondragon Contemporary University, a hospital, a hotel and the Vortice IT park itself. “As regards the conformation of a smart city; many services will be shared. At least in the anchors, there will be no perimeter fences – we will share the same access control, security, parking and a variety of services on offer in Ciudad Maderas.”
Construction of the building from which the Vortice IT Park will operate is expected to conclude in May 2015. Acevedo states that currently they are working with financial advisors as well as fiscal and real estate consultants in order to set prices for the work spaces, as well as the services that will be provided.
Waves of Growth
Queretaro has gone through three stages of growth, says Jorge Castañares, Business Manager at Aguirre Newman Mexico, The first came about following the earthquake experienced in Mexico City in 1985, when a great number of the capital’s middle class residents looked to Queretaro as an attractive alternative when it came to the issue of deciding where to settle. “This first wave put Queretaro on the map,” Castañares said.
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When the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed in 1994, Queretaro’s geographic position gave it an advantage when it came to economic interchange with the United States and Canada. In fact, according to Castanares, Queretaro is positioned on what is known as the “NAFTA Highway” – Highway Number 57 which links Mexico City with the countries to the north. “This highway quickly became the most transited by logistics in Latin America,” he explained.
The third stage started with the construction of two key communication channels: the outer ring of the State of Mexico and the Northern Ring. These two highways run through the center of the country, connecting the Pacific Ocean with the Gulf of Mexico, providing Queretaro with much greater mobility.
Castanares highlights the arrival of four big businesses to the city of Queretaro. Santander moved its call centers and systems, along with 13,000 workers, to Juriquilla, part of the Queretaro metropolitan area, nearly 20 years ago. Kellogg’s and Michelin also set up their corporate headquarters in the Benito Juarez Industrial Park, which resulted in around 3,000 people moving to Queretaro. “What set Queretaro up as an attractive area to invest was the creation of the aerospace cluster comprising Bombardier, GE and Eurocopter, among others. In turn, this resulted in the international airport being expanded and a specialized university being set up to train aeronautical professionals,” Castañares added.
As can be imagined, real estate prices have soared over the last 20 years. It has gone from being an average city, with below average prices for land per square meter, to being a world-class real estate sector. According to Castañares, the residential market has seen the largest growth, followed by office spaces and finally, retail. Current prices range from 20,000 pesos ($1,500) per square meter for a residential condominium to $18-25 per square meter for office space rental and an average of up to $150 per square meter for retail space. “Land is getting more expensive, but there is still much room for growth and the development of a great variety of products. Queretaro is crying out for world-class products – and it is getting them,” Castañares said.
Castanares stated that Queretaro is looking to establish a technology cluster on a par with those found in Guadalajara where businesses such as Intel, HP and IBM operate. As yet, it has not quite managed it. It has however, managed to consolidate an aerospace cluster and a cluster for suppliers to the automotive and household appliance industry, while currently consolidating a technology cluster, although, at the moment it “is still disintegrated.”
However, as Jorge Butron Arriola, inteQsoft President and President of the National Software Board, has stated on several occasions, Queretaro is well on its way to becoming the second favorite location for IT development after Guadalajara. And Queretaro has the advantage as it is works with all the different aspects required in the IT field.
Obviously Queretaro has proven itself capable of meeting the requirements of the automotive, aerospace, logistics and technology industries, and the creation of industrial and technology parks will help businesses from this state to enter the national scene.
“Queretaro, without a doubt, is a twenty-first century city that will feature on the national scene alongside Mexico City, Puebla, Monterrey and Guadalajara. I can guarantee that it will be one of the country’s flagship cities,” Castanares concluded.