From April 10-16, 51 high-level representatives from 24 countries visited Arizona and Southern California to explore global and regional partnerships and economic development opportunities through the 5th America’s Competitiveness Exchange on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
The delegation toured advanced technology centers, innovation hubs, public-private partnership ventures, and strategic investments in cities ranging from small towns like Gilbert, Arizona, and Vista Escondido, California, to major metropolitan areas like Phoenix and San Diego.
In Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, the delegation learned about the cutting-edge work being done at the University of Arizona (UofA) and Arizona State University (ASU) to revolutionize the fields of optics, biosciences, medicine, business, technology transfer, and many others.
Tours and information sessions included stops at ASU’s BioDesign Institute, which represents Arizona’s single largest research infrastructure investment in the biosciences, and the UofA’s Biosphere 2, a unique facility dedicated to the research and understanding of global scientific issues.
In Yuma, Arizona, with its rich heritage and unique position at the crossroads of the Southwest, EDA proudly spotlighted its nearly $4 million investment in the Yuma Airport Authority’s Aviation Industrial Complex, which helped to build the defense contractor’s aircraft maintenance, testing and technology facilities there.
These critical facilities provide the space that companies involved in the testing of avionics equipment and other defense-related activities need to grow and thrive.
In California, the delegation visited Imperial Valley Community College where they learned about how EDA’s Communities that Work Partnership program is working under the Department of Commerce’s “Skills for Business” initiative to strengthen regional skills development strategies that meet both businesses’ and workers’ needs.
And, in San Diego, the delegation toured Qualcomm National Headquarters, learned about tech-transfer and innovation initiatives at the University of California San Diego, and visited the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy facilities at Point Loma.
In addition, the San Diego visit also featured the signing of an important Memorandum of Cooperation between the U.S. and participating countries to support initiatives that grow trade and investment partnerships and create new job opportunities, particularly in technology. Importantly, the agreement recognizes EDA’s comprehensive economic development strategies process as a hemispheric best practice, which will help countries focus on their communities and regions like never before to help them set their unique roadmaps for the future.
The ACE is a regional initiative included in the Inter-American Competitiveness Network (RIAC) Work Plan for 2016-2018 to facilitate collaboration on the more than 200 successful experiences that OAS Member States shared in the 2012-2015 Signs of Competitiveness Americas Reports.
Canada is looking forward to hosting the 6th Americas Competitiveness Exchange in 2017.