Chihuahua Nurturing Talent Amidst Booming Nearshoring Industry

2 DESEC: Chihuahua develops talent amid nearshoring boom

CHIHUAHUA, Mexico , June 7, 2024 — Chihuahua City, the capital of the northern Mexican state of the same name, has become a reference point for exports, thanks to the arrival of large multinational companies 50 years ago. It is now leveraging the nearshoring boom to develop talent and sophisticate its economy.

While Mexico has lost 3.2% of its maquiladora jobs over the past seven months due to a slowdown in the U.S. economy, Chihuahua has maintained a positive trend linked to the relocation of production, with export employment expanding by 4.4% over the same period.

René Espinoza Terrazas, president of Index Chihuahua, told EFE that the city’s success in attracting additional export jobs lies in the unity of the industrial sector, as well as in the consolidation of talent and infrastructure and better the quality of life for its residents.

“The industry fosters considerable development for the workforce. You certify an operator, and they achieve that level. Previously, the jobs were repetitive with no development, but now you can see people with certifications and a better standard of living,” said Espinoza.

Espinoza said Chihuahua has become a hub for the aerospace industry with companies like Textron Aviation, BELL, Honeywell, EZ AIR-Embraer, and Bombardier, as well as major auto parts manufacturers, led by a plant that makes engines for the auto company Ford.

The 106 export maquiladora facilities presently operating generate 93,000 jobs and, in 2023, exported $10 billion in goods, mostly to the United States. José Luis Rodulfo Mercado, former director of the Maquiladora Association, said that in the 1960s, the city was primarily agro-industrial, livestock, and construction with Cementos de Chihuahua. The arrival of the maquiladora industry introduced a work culture that has persisted since then.

Conrado Rolón Hinojosa, a founding partner of the maquiladora group, explained that export talent has been developing for 50 years since multinational corporations began operating in Mexico based on the success in Ciudad Juárez with the National Border Program, which aimed to employ a wave of Mexicans returning from the U.S.

Located 380 kilometers (236 miles) from the U.S. border, the state anticipates the arrival of three more investments that were arranged during the Paris Air Show 2023 and has its sights set on businesses in the electromobility industry, which it already has skilled workers graduating from its technical institutions and universities.