Binational initiative wins economic development award

Southwestern Arizona/Mexico alliance increases international business, tourism

YUMA – A binational initiative to increase commerce and tourism in southwestern Arizona and the neighboring region in Mexico, stemming from a collaboration involving border communities and state entities including the Arizona Department of Transportation, has been honored for excellence in economic development.

The American Planning Association’s Economic Development Division selected the 4FrontED Initiative for its Donald E. Hunter Excellence in Economic Development Planning Award, saying the public-private partnership “is adding economic value to a multi-jurisdictional region where it may not have otherwise occurred.”

The 4FrontED region includes Yuma, Somerton, Wellton and San Luis in Arizona, as well as San Luis Río Colorado, Mexico. The Cocopah Indian Tribe is a recent member of the initiative.

In 2013, ADOT, the Arizona-Mexico Commission, the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Arizona Office of Tourism worked with the border communities of Douglas, Nogales and San Luis/Yuma County to create the Arizona Border Communities Roadmap identifying assets and strategies to generate economic development.

The 4FrontED Initiative stems from a binational work program, the Border Business Case, that is the first step of the Border Communities Roadmap. Through the 4FrontED Initiative, communities and businesses in southwestern Arizona and in Mexico formed alliances to increase international commerce and tourism and develop strategies to connect investors with opportunities.

“ADOT recognizes that border communities, because of their binational nature, have unique needs but also present a number of valuable opportunities for growth and development,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “The collaborative approach through the Border Communities Roadmap ensures that we maximize the efforts to promote the region and foster new investment and job creation.”

Yuma Mayor Douglas J. Nicholls, who initiated 4FrontED’s launch, said the initiative’s successes have only just begun as participants unite behind its shared vision.

“We are doing so, in unison, with short-term and long-term goals, to put the region on the global map,” Nicholls said.

The award will be presented Monday, May 8, at the American Planning Association National Planning Conference in New York City.

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