Coming soon: the 'San Diego-Tijuana Innovadora' expo

The event that helped Tijuana's image abroad now seeks to include its northern neighbor

Interim Mayor Gloria then went on to thank the organizers for the invitation to join the Tijuana Innovadora movement and mentioned being convoked about the importance of uniting both borders. His four trips to Baja since becoming mayor are examples to his commitment, he says, towards the binational region and hopes that whoever follows him as mayor will follow his and Mayors Sanders and Filner's examples of visiting Tijuana more. Gloria closes with thanking "all of you for accompanying me from the beginning of this very important binational relationship."

The San Diego advisory council for Tijuana Innovadora was also officially introduced, as well as the names of its members that will aid in the creation of the alliances needed for consolidating a binational event of this scale. Among its members are Charles Shapiro, president of the Institute of the Americas; Todd Gloria himself; Remedio Gómez Arnau, Mexican consul in

San Diego; Malin Burnham, business and civic leader who will also act as the council's vice president; Andrew Erickson, consul general of the United States in Tijuana; Mary Walshok, vice-chancellor associate of the Programs and Dean Extensions for the University of California San Diego (UCSD), among others.

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U.S. Consul General in Tijuana, Andrew Erickson. Photo: Brenda Colón
U.S. Consul General in Tijuana, Andrew Erickson. Photo: Brenda Colón

Both consuls in the region, Remedios Gómez and Andrew Erickson, offered their own perspectives about what Tijuana Innovadora means for a Mexican living in San Diego and for an American living in Tijuana, respectively. They talked about the importance of showing the best Tijuana has to offer and about the opportunities the binational region offers. "We need to work more to show all of them how it is that we are already connected" said Remedios, while Erickson congratulated all those who have managed to make this initiative a reality. The American consul also took the time to remind all those in attendee that the 20th anniversary of the signing of NAFTA is upon them, and for them to think about the overall benefits it has brought to the region.

Others who gave some quick words were Mary Walshok, from UCSD and an education activist, who praised the work Tijuana Innovadora has carried out in education, helping young people through workshops, projects and educational programs. Besides, she said, "We share a love for wine and beer!" in the region, another example about how much both sides have in common. Mark Cafferty, president of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Council, swore that Tijuana Innovadora has been the "best innovation conference" he has seen.

Bob Morris, the Partnerships in U.S. director for Tijuana Innovadora, confessed that it "hurt to see how my fellow San Diegans didn't take the opportunity to experience what I experienced" at the event. He also spoke about the importance of the Mexican diaspora living in Southern California. The United States has the second largest Spanish speaking population in the world, which is why, he stressed, it is important to focus on this group. "We believe that a inspired Mexican diaspora can be a beacon for prosperity and of innovation" for both sides of the border.

Also during the event were representatives from both the Tijuana and Baja California governments. The secretary for economic development in Tijuana, Xavier Peniche, went instead of newly inaugurated Mayor Jorge Asetiazarán, while Mariano Escobedo went in representation of governor Kiko Vega.

Lastly, José Gallicot, one of the co-founders and current leader of the Tijuana Innovadora movement, tried his best to express through a hoarse throat that he "cannot believe what my eyes are seeing, the amount of people [here] who believe that Tijuana is important to them," thanking the attendees for their time and for the active citizen involvement that, he reaffirms, is the only true way to improve our lives.

The meeting ended with shouts of "Yes we can!" and "¡Sí se puede!", encouraged by Gallicot.

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jose.sanchez@sandiegored.com

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