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MEXICO
From Site Selection magazine, January 2016
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Decades in the Making

The Monterrey region’s rich educational resources did not appear overnight, and they are growing.

MEXICO
by MARK AREND

Why have more than 2,900 foreign companies already established operations in Nuevo León? If Mexico was their intended market, only in this northeastern Mexican state — particularly in the Monterrey region, could they find the education assets and talent they required for their higher-end manufacturing. Even now, potential investors are surprised by the vast talent pool that awaits — not just large numbers of production workers, but of technicians, engineers and post-graduates local to the area.

The Monterrey area is close to the US geographically, offers an economically active population of 2.3 million and has a quality of life that appeals to investing companies. But it’s the region’s labor supply — though costlier than elsewhere in Mexico — that tends to seal most deals, according to those working with existing and potential investors. Felix Tejada is director general at The Alles Group Monterrey, a leading real estate service provider in the area who knows well the region’s location attributes.

Top Mexican Projects by Investment (US$) for 2015

Company City State Product Investment (US$M)
Ford Motor Co. Irapuato Guanajuato Transmissions 1,300
Ford Motor Co. Chihuahua Chihuahua Gasoline Engines 1,100
Toyota Motor Corp. Celaya  Guanajuato Automobiles 1,000
Volkswagen Puebla Puebla Automobiles 1,000
Lego Operaciones de Mexico, S.a. de C.v. Cienega de Flores Nuevo Leon Plastic Toys 800
Grupo Bafar, S.a.b. de C.v. La Piedad Cavadas Michoacan de Ocampo Meat Processing 650
Grupo Simec, S.a.b. de C.v. Apizaco Tlaxcala Steel 600
Constellation Brands Nava Coahuila Breweries 575
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. San Luis Potosi San Luis Potosi Tires 500
Heineken Meoqui Chihuahua Breweries 474
APM Terminals Management B.V. Lazaro Cardenas Michoacan de Ocampo Freight Terminal 350
Grupo Modelo, S.a.b. de C.v. Hunucma Yucatan Breweries 329
Spectrum Aeronautical, LLC Mexicali Baja California Aircraft 300
Elementia, S.a. de C.v. Tula de Allende Hidalgo Cement 250
Frisa Industrias, S.A. de C.V. Garcia Nuevo Leon Steel 200
Grupo Modelo, S.a.b. de C.v. Hunucma Yucatan Beer Cans 182
Brose Mexico S.a. de C.v. Santiago de Queretaro Queretaro de Arteaga Seat Frames 170
Minera Fresnillo, S.A. de C.V. - Zacatecas Silver Ore 155
Magna International Inc. Colon Estado de Queretaro de Arteaga Auto Parts 135
Mado Corp. Arteaga Coahuila de Zaragoza Steering Systems 130
Crown Holdings, Inc. Juarez Nuevo Leon Metal Cans 120
Evercast, S.A. de C.V. Irapuato Guanajuato Auto Parts 120
Landsteiner Scientific, S.a. de C.v. Toluca Mexico Pharmaceuticals 117
Thyssenkrupp Ag Huejotzingo Puebla Auto Parts 100
Oracle Corp. Zapopan Jalisco Cloud Solutions 86
Source: Conway Projects Database

“On a per capita basis, the Monterrey region has the highest level of education in Mexico,” he relates. “It is established. It’s not just that we can produce graduates. It’s a generational trend of higher education from entry-level skill sets to graduate and post-graduate. You can’t readily find well-trained welders with sophisticated levels of training and safety in just any city in Mexico. You have to look in a mature market with an established industry — in this case the steel industry. But that’s not something that happens overnight. It takes decades, and Monterrey has that.”

By the Numbers

Just how extensive is Nuevo León’s labor supply? Consider these statistics from Nuevo León Unidos, the Secretariat of Economic Development:

Technicians:

  • More than 135,000 enrolled students, age 15 to 19
  • More than 109,000 students enrolled in vocational schools
  • More than 230 technical careers and 150 available vocational programs
  • More than 11,000 technicians graduated per year

Graduates:

  • More than 146,000 enrolled students
  • More than 7,500 engineers graduated per year
  • More than 66 percent growth in postgraduate enrollment in the last 10 years

Post-graduates:

  • More than 1,000 Master’s and Doctor’s degrees conferred per year
  • More than 15,500 enrolled students in post-graduate degree programs

Institutions:

  • More than 90 colleges and universities with more than 150,000 students
  • More than 60 bilingual schools

Tejada says that with those numbers, companies will find no shortage of production workers capable of operating machinery and equipment in the Monterrey region.

“But if you are looking for people who just do line assembly, no skill sets, Monterrey is probably not a good market, because the wage scale is high,” he says. “Investors looking for that would go to a smaller city where they are a bigger player. Monterrey is better suited for industry that is specialized, be it automotive, injection molding, welders and operators of specialized machinery. I refer here not to the engineer, but to the position at the notch below. That is consistent with a more mature market where your wage scales will be higher. It’s not a cheap market, both in terms of labor and project implementation — real estate is not cheap in Monterrey,” he points out. “We have elements of the aerospace and automotive industries and everything involving steel — metallurgy, specialized metal processes. A lot of companies in Monterrey have global footprints that source their steel laminates from Monterrey.”

The Monterrey area is home to seven mature industry sectors: automotive, auto parts and components; home appliances and components; software and IT services; specialized medical services; electric and electronic equipment; metalworking; and steel, glass, cement and beverages. The first four are considered to be formalized clusters. Additional, growing industries include biotechnology and nanotechnology, chemicals and petrochemicals and financial and health services.

“Monterrey can give you what any major city in the southern US can, other than the setting in a different country and the cost proposition being lower,” says Tejada.

Mark Arend
Editor in Chief of Site Selection magazine

Mark Arend

Mark Arend has been editor in chief of Site Selection magazine since 2001. Prior to joining the editorial staff in 1997, he worked for 10 years in New York City at Wall Street Computer Review, ABA Banking Journal and Global Investment Technology. Mark graduated from the University of Hartford (Conn.) in 1985 and lives near Atlanta, Georgia.

 



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