Could you talk about your main policies since assuming office three years ago?
We have had an economic model in place since this administration took office under the mandate of Governor Jose Calzada Rovirosa, the main focus of which is the welfare of the people of Querétaro. To achieve this aim we have a strategy based on three pillars. The first is the attraction of investment, both local and foreign. The second is support for local SMEs and companies in general. And the third, which is a challenge that must be addressed in Mexico, is the development of poorer regions in the State and the provision of opportunities for all citizens within it. Just as Mexico overall has a range of economic levels, so too does Querétaro, and there is a need to bring economic opportunities and employment to the poorer people of those regions.
What strategies have you taken to attract FDI into Queretaro?
In general, in terms of FDI in recent years, Querétaro has been considered an important destination, especially during the past six years in terms of security among the various regions of Mexico. FDI started to move from the north of the country to the center, and in that sense Querétaro is a leader in FDI in Central Mexico. We are focused on the four main areas of aerospace, automotive, IT, and biotechnology. This marks the second step of what we began with the food and beverage industry 60 years ago, and companies are moving toward biotechnology, instead of merely the agricultural industry. FDI in Querétaro rose from $200 million a year in 2009 to almost $900 million in 2013, and in 2015 will have risen to around $2 billion. To a certain extent Querétaro has become a focus for FDI partly because of Mexico's wider reality, in terms of security. Furthermore, we have worked on increasing the number of highly skilled workers in the state. We have become a hub for certain industries such as aerospace, biotechnology, and automotive. Additionally, we have pursued programs to support companies in hiring talented people, by training people at our schools, especially our public schools, at different levels, from basic to highly skilled technicians and engineers, with success in many sectors.
Querétaro has been largely praised as a solid address for FDI because of its central location. What will be the importance of the high-speed train between Mexico City and Querétaro for the development of the state?
The train will bring us closer to Mexico City as people will be able to work here and live in the capital. Furthermore, many corporates could establish their headquarters in Querétaro and travel back and forth to the capital when required. The state of Querétaro is moving from a labor-intensive economy to a capital intensive one, which means that we have more companies generating more investment, and in turn reducing unemployment. In that regard the train represents an excellent opportunity to expedite the process.
Can you talk about your programs and initiatives for developing SMEs in the state?
We have two or three strategies. First is the system to link SMEs with large companies, which is a development program for suppliers that we discuss with industry. Secondly, we have established a fund in Querétaro to support SMEs with credit and provide companies that are unable take out loans from commercial banks, whereby we assume the risk. So far we have provided around $340 million in financial support over the past five years, and have supported close to 3,000 companies. We provide them with loans at highly competitive rates of 6% per annum, in stark contrast to the commercial rate of around 14%. Meanwhile, we have established several business incubators to motivate the young population to become entrepreneurs and provide jobs for the state. In fact Querétaro is the only Mexican state to have a Ministry of Youth. This institution is orientated to support young Queretarans starting new companies. The Ministry of Youth has a budget of around Ps700 million to support such programs. We create around 6,000 new companies annually in Querétaro, large, small, medium, and micro, and plan to create around 32,000 jobs per year.
What is your economic outlook for Querétaro for the next five years?
I expect Querétaro to sustain its growth level. While a small state, we have developed a local model for annual growth and have a good business-minded community, focused on doing business and not politics, and I think that Querétaro has done a tremendous job over the past 20 years. Many people are migrating to the state, which is putting considerable pressure on regional growth in terms of the city, public services, and also in terms of job generation. Yet it will continue to grow and set an example for Mexico as a destination for profitable investment.
© The Business Year - February 2015