The Baja Experience

On Tuesday, October 21, a group of 25 CIBU students ventured over the border to Tijuana, Mexico on a guided tour to gain an inside view of this cutting edge city’s thriving business culture. Students were able to browse through Tijuana Innovadora, to uncover trends in a variety of industries and experience the corporate and start-up environments in Tijuana.  The San Diego / Tijuana region is truly becoming a global center for manufacturing and trade.

Tijuana Innovadora, held every two years at Tijuana’s Cultural Center, demonstrates the global trend of building bridges between nations across the globe. Students visited the traditional Mercado Hidalgo, full a colorful marketplace, a Mexican feast for the senses! Our adventurous students tried new treats such as Chicharrón, atún, and nueces japoneses (fried pork rinds, tuna, and Japanese nuts).

As the group made their way to the iconic Avenida Revolución they enjoyed shopping and a glimpse of Bona! Fashion Arts and Café, a collaborative workspace for creative entrepreneurs launching new businesses. The idea for Bona was conceived by a group of local architects who, after witnessing the closing of several businesses on Avenida Revolución, were concerned about the appearance of the famed boulevard. Students learned how the group also approached the city to get permission to re-purpose the old bus terminal into this shared workspace. The result, Hub Station, is a visually stimulating mix between history and innovation, with handmade tiles, wrought iron staircases, and rustic painted walls mixed in with the latest technologies, glass-walled offices, Wi-Fi, and a variety of games for co-working members to play! The entire building is lit by beautiful natural sunlight filtered through a stained glass ceiling. It is an environment where entrepreneurs with vision, passion, and determination can gain inspiration and collaborative support in launching their business concepts!

At the other end of the developmental spectrum was a visit to BIT Center, promoting the newest hi-tech ideas within a streamlined and modern shared work environment. We learned that management is currently working on two major initiatives: the first, to promote new businesses through the development of a comprehensive website featuring each and every company member, and the second to offer those seeking services of these new companies an opportunity to research their products, service, and customer satisfaction. Students ate lunch at the premier restaurant of master chef Hector Plancencia,  “La Mision 19”, and the late afternoon featured a visit to one of Tijuana’s “maquiladoras”, MotorParts of Mexico (MPM). Students attended a presentation by the site’s Chief Operating Officer, and a walk through of the huge manufacturing facility. MPM demonstrated how they keep their employees motivated throughout the day, with group exercise breaks, food preparation are for employees to make lunch.  The manufacturing facility is located in a community close by in which to live and raise families.

CIBU is thankful to the City of Tijuana’s Bi-National Affairs Office for helping to coordinate our trip, and ensuring the safety and smooth border crossing for participating students. We look forward to more adventures across the border to explore this beautiful country just south of San Diego!