By: Chaz Brown, Head of the International Education Department, Coordinator of the Language Center, Universidad Tecnológica de la Costa Grande de Guerrero, Petatlán, Guerrero*
The southern Pacific coast of Mexico has been a social, cultural and economic hotbed for thousands of years, specifically, the Costa Grande (“Big Coast”) region of the state of Guerrero. This region (similar to a county or Providence) encompasses 250 kilometers of tropical paradise, starting from the city of Acapulco, stretching through Petatlán, Zihuatanejo, Ixtapa, and all the way to the northern most part of the city of La Unión.
The state of Guerrero is located on the tropical Pacific Coast. The state has a long history of rich economic activity, but now has one of the highest indices of poverty.
The Costa Grande region of Guerrero stretches from the city of Acapulco to the border of the northern neighboring state of Michoacán.
In spite of the fact that Guerrero has a long history of rich economic activity, it also has one of the highest indices of poverty and constantly stands out as a hyper-marginalized territory in Mexico – second only to Chiapas1. (INEGI, 2010) For these reasons, among many others, it is important to highlight the most recent international happenings in the region – from the new multi-billion dollar foreign investment project in the city of La Unión to the opening of new locally-inspired and internationally-rooted educational programs, the Costa Grande is alive and well both locally speaking as well as in the international arena.
The most talked-about current event in the region has to do with the recent approval and development of the “Special Economic Zone” housed in the neighboring state of Michoacán which is forecasted to generate billions of dollars’ worth of economic activity and that will have a resounding impact on the immediate area surrounding the port of Lázaro Cardenas, Michoacán which includes La Unión, Guerrero.
The new “Special Economic Zone,” housed in the neighboring state of Michoacán, is forecasted to generate billions of dollars’ worth of economic activity that will have a resounding impact on the area, including the state of Guerrero.
The project is projected to generate more than 50,000 jobs in 15 years through the liberalization of trade and commerce policies that have proven very attractive to a number of multinational corporations (MNC) and promises more than 5,000 new jobs for the region in the first year of implementation2. The organizers of the initiative stipulate that there are two main anchor MNCs (unspecified) that have already committed to the project and will be building their facilities in the region exclusively for and because of the new Special Economic Zone.
Interestingly, this project is not only impacting the large port cities and their surrounding suburbs, but it is also having direct implications 150 kilometers down the coast in the small town of Petatlán. This can be seen in the opening of the new academic department of International Trade and Commerce in the local Technological University of the Costa Grande. The decision to inaugurate the International Trade and Commerce Department was based on the economic projections in the region and, particularly, the recently approved Special Economic Zone of Lázaro Cárdenas. The idea is for the university to prepare its local citizens to enter the workforce by arming them with technical degrees in the field of international commerce and, thus, secure the newly created professional positions for their community members.
The “Special Economic Zone” project is expected to generate more than 50,000 jobs in the next 15 years. The Universidad Tecnológica de La Costa Grande de Guerrero, located in Petatlán, Guerrero, has opened a new department of International Trade and Commerce to prepare local citizens with technical degrees to enter the workforce.
This is the same strategy that the technological university system in Mexico has been using since its inception 25 years ago – open and support (with federal and state funds) educational institutions with the specific objective of supporting the local and regional economic activities of the host community. The case of the International Trade and Commerce major is an obvious example of this dynamic and illustrates the importance of the Costa Grande region on the local, state, national and international levels. Theoretically, we have in our mists a clear example of the relationship between the famous idiom of “thinking globally while acting locally.” We will have to wait for the coming years to see if the practical outcome of this relationship holds true to the theory.
About the Author:
Chaz Brown holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management and Spanish Language from Gustavus Adolphus College and a Master’s Degree in Latin American Studies from Ohio University. He is originally from Minnesota; however, Professor Brown has lived and taught in Mexico at UTCGG for the past 5 years.
- Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía – Economía. (2010, December 31). Retrieved August 18, 2017, from http://www3.inegi.org.mx/sistemas/temas/default.aspx?s=est&c=23824
- El Puerto de Lázaro Cárdenas Ahora es Zona Económica Especial.
For more information about Ixtapa Zihuatanejo and the surrounding areas, see: