FRONTIER TOWN

Mexico 2014 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Silvano Solís, Director General, Interpuerto Monterrey, on public-private collaboration, the social impact of the project, and plans for expansion.

Silvano Solís
BIOGRAPHY
Silvano Solís has 22 years of experience in the industrial real estate business, having studied technology in Monterrey, and completing two postgraduate programs in urban design at the Universidad Politécnia de Catalunya in Spain. He has participated in forums on property development and logistics organized by the Mexican Association of Private Industrial Parks, the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, the Association of Latin-American students of Harvard Business School, and by the Secretary of Economy, among others. Until June 2011, he was Managing Director and President of ProLogis Mexico, and in 2006 was part of the team that created the ProLogis México Fund. Prior to this, he was vice-president and director of sales of FINSA. In addition, he is member of the editorial board of INMOBILIARE magazine.

What are the advantages of what is Mexico's largest inland port, and how will it turn Mexico into an international platform?

The origins of the Interpuerto Monterrey project are related to the logistics of the location. The other key point is the connectivity between road and rail. Interpuerto Monterrey is one of the few places in Mexico where Kansas City Southern and Ferromex converge, connecting Interpuerto Monterrey to major sea ports–both Atlantic and Pacific–as well as inland ports within the US. The NAFTA agreement borders are erased, and we can have goods moving seamlessly between the US and Mexico. By establishing operations at Interpuerto Monterrey our customers can reach a population of 70 million people within a 900-kilometer radius. This provides an advantage to our customers when time to market is a concern.

Can you speak about collaboration between public and private institutions?

Interpuerto Monterrey was conceived in response to the need for a fully integrated manufacturing and logistics hub for Northeast Mexico and as an integral part of the State of Nuevo León's infrastructure platform. The government undertook the responsibility to build and develop new road and highway infrastructure. Meanwhile, the private sector was tasked with finding land and developing the park. We are privately owned by a group of investors from Nuevo León, and we first set out to establish a grid for all infrastructure required for the project. We searched for roads, rail, power, fiber optics, water, sewage, and gas. The only place where all these elements converged was Interpuerto Monterrey. Usually, a development results from a parcel of land and then infrastructure is brought into it. At Interpuerto Monterrey, we did things the other way around. The slogan 'The New Crossroads,' references the crossing point of roads, and the other infrastructure required for a project of this size.

What will the social impact of this investment be?

A triple bottom-line principle is very much needed for this type of development, combining economic feasibility, environmental responsibility, and the addressing of social concerns. The matter goes beyond having a sound business model; it involves a business model that is sustained by the economics of the business, the social aspect of the project, and the environmental impact of the development. Once Interpuerto Monterrey is fully developed, it will create 35,000 to 45,000 jobs. One of the most important considerations of the development is that it is a 1,350-hectare master plan development that will provide new jobs in Monterrey's Metropolitan area, and of course for the country. Interpuerto Monterrey's location has a strong industrial base for jobs. Many people living there today spend a significant portion of their day traveling to and from work. Added to the fact that transportation costs must be factored into the equation. Therefore, bringing work to communities can improve their quality of life. With the additional benefit of reducing auto emissions as transportation time declines.

What is the total investment for the project?

There will be about 80 hectares of land absorbed annually, giving Interpuerto Monterrey a spread that ranges from 10 to 12 years. It is hard to gauge the total investment involved, but we have calculated an investment of $130 million for the first phase, which is 350 hectares, and you can extrapolate from this a total investment of $500 to $600 million, although we cannot foresee the future entirely at this point. Currently, we are catering to the requirements of 20 to 30 hectares.

What were the benchmarks for Interpuerto Monterrey?

Zaragoza is a benchmark for us, and is a model that we are aiming to mirror. CenterPoint and Alliance can also serve as good inspirations. We want to build a network of inland ports around the world that can improve connectivity, and we are also working on a customs pre-clearance process. This will require a considerable time to achieve as we are dealing with two countries, which involves policy amendments. We want goods to be cleared by the US customs officers at the site, our advantage for doing so is our location: 200 kilometers from the Mexico-US border with direct highway connection.