The CaliBaja megaregion, as the entire world, has been suffering the economic impact of COVID 19 for a couple of months now. While experts say the situation could last at least between 3 to 6 months, organizations on both sides of the border are already joining forces to face the pandemic. Technology and collaboration have become their best allies.
There are no winners in the global pandemic. Some companies will suffer, others will survive, and a few will thrive. But there is light at the end of the tunnel.
The impact of the CaliBaja megaregion in the world during the COVID 19 crisis.
In recent days, organizations like the Tijuana Economic Development have been putting together the broken pieces of the industrial community in the city. Using video conferencing and other technological tools, they are finding a way to keep moving the city. In the same order of ideas, the San Diego Regional EDC has been offering guidance and support to San Diego businesses and residents.
During a virtual conference between both organizations, Jesse Gipe, Director of World Trade Center San Diego & Senior Manager at San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, affirmed that they are spending most of their time helping businesses to have access to the resources they need to continue to survive this current crisis. Still, they are already beginning to think what the road to recovery -long term- looks like for them.
He also referred to the importance of keeping the border open, since the impact of the region (CaliBaja) in the world during the COVID 19 crisis -especially in the medical device cluster– is more critical than ever. He added that collaboration between institutions and companies of different industries in Tijuana must be done because each business has different needs, and working together and relying on the expertise of each sector will help us find a way out as a city, in the long term.
In the same meeting, Carlos Higuera, President of the Tijuana EDC, highlighted that the business communities on both sides of the border must work closer than ever to keep the economy running. It’s something that they have been doing in the last weeks using video conferencing.
🎥 #WeAreLive Today we talk to Jesse Gipe, Director of World Trade Center San Diego & Senior Manager at San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, about "Binational Mega Region Reactivation".#TijuanaEDC #InvestInTijuana #COVID19
Posted by Tijuana EDC on Tuesday, April 21, 2020
The manufacturing industry in Tijuana has a long history dealing with economic downturns. Every time, the community has found the way to come out of the problem stronger and renewed. There’s no doubt that this time the result will be the same. But the coronavirus pandemic has no precedent, and the effects are still to be seen. The business landscape in the world has changed.
While some businesses seem to adapt quickly, other industries in the region such as Leisure, Hospitality, and Transportation were struck by the lockdown restrictions, that they are still waiting for a way out. Hotels and restaurants located in the coastal zone of Baja California are among them.
Elisa Calvillo, a member of the Sales and Marketing department at the Rosarito Beach Hotel -the biggest hotel in the region with about 500 suites- told me that the times of coronavirus have been complicated for them as well.
Since most of their clients live on the other side of the border, the majority of the reservations are being canceled. 2020 is their 96th anniversary, but they are now postponing the celebrations. Nevertheless, they are doing everything in their hands to keep up with the times.
One of their strategies is to keep close communication with their clients. The use of digital platforms such as email and social media allows them to share real-time updates and information related to the sanitary crisis. Also, it’s a great tool to share special discounts or promotions that may help them reactivate the economy. In times of uncertainty, optimism, and useful information are important to thrive.
Meanwhile, local restaurants, coffee shops, wineries, and other small businesses are also trying to adapt to using the technology available. Home delivery has become the only way for them. Mobile applications such as Rappi and UberEats have become very popular these days. Other owners have decided to use their own delivery systems to keep things running smoothly.
I had the opportunity to talk to Roberto Cruz, Operations Manager at Softkitect -a software development company in Tijuana- and he told me that the software industry is going to be impacted by COVID 19, but not in such away.
According to Cruz, software developers are very familiar with working from home. The lockdown is not affecting the way they work, only the projects. While some projects are being put on hold, others are arising. As priorities change, companies will redirect their efforts to new areas. Technology and innovation are needed now more than ever.
Following the steps of Big Tech brands, some companies in Baja California are offering their products and services for free to help companies in the region face the economic impact of the virus.
I talked to Lorís Maymes, Business Development Senior Manager for PCM Corporativo, an international consulting firm with offices in Tijuana, she told me they are helping -free of charge until the contingency ends- different organizations in Mexico to monitor the health status of their staff and keep them informed of the latest updates on COVID 19.
“Facing difficult times requires creative and innovative solutions; communication becomes crucial. That’s the main reason why we are joining the battle against the global pandemic by offering our remote communication services completely free through our App Mi Kiosko. This platform is helping companies and their collaborators to stay communicated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, sharing advice on how to avoid infections and take care of their families,” -added Maymes.
Regarding the higher education sector in Tijuana, Martha Pineda, Corporate Trainer, Marketing Consultant, founder of Intramarketing and professor for two important universities in Baja California, told me that private universities switched into virtual classes mode one or two weeks before spring break. By the time the break was over, students had fully transitioned into taking classes online.
“A quick transition had to be made. Although this may sound easy, it was a massive endeavor that involved a great deal of effort, collaboration, and commitment from students as well as from teachers and school authorities” -she said.
“All parties involved had to close the technological gap rapidly and for the institutions that also represented scheduling last-minute training for teachers and in some cases making unscheduled major investments in licensed platforms. Only about 6 weeks after the transition started, the higher education system is moving forward through the web” -Pineda added.
Finally, she shared with me that in her opinion, as challenges continue to be overcome, it is also providing the future workforce with a skill set that will increase their competitiveness. Online learning and collaboration are contributing to expanding the traditional four-wall classroom into a global one.
While the economic footprint of the coronavirus pandemic in the CaliBaja megaregion is still to be seen, institutions and businesses on both sides of the border are finding new ways of dealing with the situation. Business creativity, innovation, technology, and collaboration seem to be the pillars of what might be, a soon restored, and renewed economy.
Written by Luis C Jimenez,
Marketing Director of Voxcentrix, Americas Survey Company and Softkitect