Could Guadalajara become the next Hollywood? While the Mexican city won’t host an Oscars ceremony any time soon, it is opening a high-tech industrial park geared toward the electronic entertainment industry.
Guadalajara’s Ciudad Creativa Digital or Creative Digital City (CCD) will enable local businesses to offer their services to global film, animation and media giants, according to Braulio Laveaga, regional director of Mexico’s National Chamber of Electronics, Telecommunications and Information Technology (CANIETI).
Addressing a sizeable audience of students, entrepreneurs and investors at the monthly iTuesday forum, Laveaga promised the CCD will not only attract talent to Guadalajara, it will also encourage the development and retention of local talent.
The CCD was announced in January and work has been steadily progressing throughout the year. Last month Toshiba became the latest major company to lend its financial support to the ambitious project, while Laveaga said the Mexican government is currently targeting the likes of Disney, Pixar, Warner, ESPN, Sony and Nintendo.
Lights, Camera, Jobs
“If we manage to attract the big players in these industries, then there will be opportunities (for local businesses) to offer them services in the creative industry,” Laveaga said. “To produce animated films they will need not only software, but also people with creative talent to work on all the special effects and post-production.”
The development will yield opportunities for both individuals and small businesses to work in the chain of production of video games, animated movies and commercials, he said. Officials believe the CCD will create up to 20,000 jobs in media and technology, a significant number of which will go to local companies, and several thousand supporting jobs in the construction and service industries.
“Ultimately, the most important part of this project is the development of talent,” Laveaga told the iTuesday audience at the sleek, modern campus of the University of Guadalajara’s Center for Administrative and Economic Sciences (CUCEA).
He suggested the presence of major corporations in Guadalajara would create great competition as well as opportunities to learn from them. Local universities are already participating in planning councils, he said, while students can take part in a series of forums to discuss the project with its organizers.
Sharing slides from the recently finished master plan with the audience, Laveaga said the planning stage, which includes plans for business, marketing and funding, will be complete by the end of the year.
He refused to put a time frame on construction, emphasizing it is a “10, 15, 20 year project.” However, he revealed plans to lay down a fiber optics ring in 2013, as well as expectations for building parking facilities, the first creative offices, a large university building and a scientific, technological and cultural museum.
The CCD will be located near Guadalajara’s Civil Hospital, Plaza Tapatia and Avenida Federalismo, with a second, smaller site in the nearby central city. The project just received its certification as a Sustainable Integral Urban Development (DUIS), which makes it eligible for a variety of government funding sources. Government officials have also visited Europe and the U.S. in an effort to raise additional capital.
Guadalajara, which is often referred to as “Mexico’s Silicon Valley,” beat out 11 other Mexican cities to win the CCD, based largely on its existing technical infrastructure, large pool of technical and creative talent, attractive labor costs and availability of a suitable site. In addition, the city is already HQ for multimedia software development companies such as Kaxan, which earlier this year released its first game for the Nintendo Wii.