Interview: Juan Manuel Carreras
What are the main economic strengths of San Luis Potosí, and what are the economic and social priorities of the state over the long term?
JUAN MANUEL CARRERAS: Although our economy originally started as a mining state, in the 21st century we transformed ourselves into a highly sophisticated manufacturer of steel, chemical products, foodstuffs, home appliances and vehicles. The growth of these key industries not only has positive economic implications, but has the ability to lift people out of poverty and share in the prosperity. While investment, employment and income are objectives of the government, strengthening the educational sector should continue to be a priority.
More professionalisation ultimately leads to a formalisation of the economy, which has a direct effect on the development of a whole range of other sectors. With more formal employees comes more necessity to develop and invest in social security services, which are essential to maintaining and improving the health and well-being of the country. Finally, it is important that we always consider the environment while enjoying economic and social development, and make a concerted effort to live within our means for the benefit of all.
How are links between universities and industry being improved to match the state’s growth and ensure a necessary supply of human capital?
CARRERAS: The government plans to establish a new, bilingual technological university to expand and strengthen links between industry and academia, specifically focused on manufacturing. The use of dual education in universities is an essential tool in widening students’ perspectives by linking up with companies and learning technical practices first hand.
It is also important for the indigenous population, who need to be given the opportunity to study in higher education establishments and feel a benefit from the growth of the state. As such, programmes at the Universidad Intercultural de San Luis Potosí act as crucial tools in combating and reducing social exclusion, as well as providing an equal educational opportunity for the state’s substantial rural population.
How is the location of the state being leveraged to provide better economic and social development for businesses and individuals?
CARRERAS: At the city level, the capital and other large urban centres are experiencing high growth, with real estate, construction and service development all springing up on the fringes of cities. Business tourism is also benefitting from the vast expansion of facilities being offered in these areas. In the case of the capital, the strategic importance of the city centre is being complemented by growing suburbs, and the government is incorporating seven municipalities to form a larger, more integrated urban zone with more government-backed services as a result. This more effectively structured centralisation means authorities are better able to provide essential social programmes, such as childcare centres, which in turn increases the economic contribution of women to the state. In return for economic growth, there has to be tangible social and economic benefits for the people. For the first time in many years, industrial development is occurring outside the capital. The state’s fourth largest city, Matehuala, is booming and attracting significant investment infrastructure. This is finally starting to address the state’s historical spatial development imbalance.
At the national level, our strategic geographical location in the centre of the country is crucial for links with neighbouring states that are also experiencing high growth levels. Additionally, Saltillo in Coahuila and Monterrey in Nuevo León – and other cities in Tamaulipas – are crucial trading partners in the well-developed north-east region. We are also part of the booming Bajío region in the centre of the country, which is one of the most important platforms for developing Mexico’s manufacturing capability in global value chains.
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