Silicon Border is an empty 40-square-kilometre (9,900-acre) development tailored to the specific needs of high-technology manufacturing located in Mexicali, along the western border of the United States of America and Mexico. The effort of the proposed industrial park, which began in 2004, is to transform Mexicali into the world's next semiconductor manufacturing center. The Mexican federal and Baja California state governments have committed more than $2 million to the design and manufacturing of the project, without any referendum which legalizes the use of public money for private projects. To no avail, former President Vicente Fox has also offered 10 years of tax-free status to any firms that locate in the park and invest $1 billion or more, since the park sits empty after the project has been promoted for 10 years. Silicon Border’s vision is to provide Mexico with an infrastructure that enables high-tech companies anywhere in the world to move manufacturing operations to the country and exploit its competitive advantages such as geographical location, human capital, research, legal and tax benefits, intellectual property, international treaties and logistics provided by the country for manufacturing high technology products while allowing research to develop processes, design, fabrication and testing able to compete with Asian operations and costs.
Q-Cells, the world's largest manufacturer of photovoltaic cells, has manifested its intention to develop a major thin film photovoltaic manufacturing facility at Silicon Border. With the global economic crisis of 2008, Q-Cells delayed its plans to settle in the park. A variety of electrical and water facilities are already built at Silicon Border in addition to energy-saving lighting. The infrastructure build-out, financed by ING Clarion, consists of potable water plant and distribution, fiber optic telephone and data cable, power substations, and waste treatment facilities. Silicon Border not only provides manufacturing space to companies creating "green" products, but does so in an environmentally conscious manner.
The Autonomous University of Baja California and CETYS, a private not-for-profit university located in Mexicali, have started new programs such as Aerospace Engineering, Semiconductors and Microelectronics Engineering, Renewable Energy Engineering, Bioengineering, History and Sociology to prepare the required human capital for potential high-tech firms.
California's Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger promoted cooperation with the project and has encouraged economic partnerships with Silicon Border in his radio addresses. At the beginning of 2006, the California governor created the “California/Baja Silicon Border Work Group,” run by deputy secretary of the California Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency, Yolanda Benson. State officials promised to hasten the roadways needed to link up with those being built for Silicon Border in Mexico.
Silicon Border is the only site in North America with abundant and inexpensive electrical power, natural gas and water, as well as a large labor pool of high skilled and motivated individuals. The area is supplied with water from the Colorado River and a major electrical sub-station supplied by three separate power plants. Infrastructure improvements associated with the proposed project include a new highway (under construction) and an additional border crossing. Silicon Border estimates that in ten years following the onset of development, the Silicon Border Science Park could generate 100,000 jobs, both within Mexico and the U.S.
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