From Tequila to Tesla: Mexico’s Silicon Valley Guadalajara Looks to Expand

Lyrics to the 1988 classic Guadalajara  by Vincente “Chente “ Fernandez reflect the romantic charm  of his birthplace, Jalisco’s capital city.  

Loosely translated, it reads:

“You smell clean , the early rose
Bird of fresh river jara
Guadalajara, Guadalajara

You know the pure , wet earth”

Perfectly quaint and uncomplicated – not unlike the low-tech beauty of Puerto Vallarta and its buses with hand-written destination signs and wooden fare boxes, cobblestone streets and taco stands.

While Jalisco Governor Aristóteles Sandoval wants the world to discover Jalisco’s simple charms –  its resorts, beaches and tequila – he’s also pitching Guadalajara for all its high-tech charms.

Guadalajara: The Creative Digital City  

Widely reported across many news agencies, including Bloomberg, Sandoval “has been making his pitch to Silicon Valley (in the US), selling what he considers the world’s second-best technology nerve center to the likes of Facebook Inc. and Tesla Inc.”   

While touring San Francisco’s Bay area in February, Sandoval praised both its past and future potential.We have more than 300 startups…We want Guadalajara to be a creative digital city, to export products and contents. But we must not forget Tlaquepaque, El Salto or Zapopan.”

IBM Took the First Step in 1970 to Distribute Products in Mexico

Indeed, Guadalajara has been a high-tech hub for some time .  U.S. companies began establishing factories in 1970, taking advantage of low labor costs, tax incentives and leveraging federal subsidies against construction costs.

Currently IBM, HP, Motorola, Oracle use Jalisco as a business base in Latin America –  valued at 21 billion dollars in business for the State of Jalisco. And Intel dominates the high-tech imprint in Guadalajara with an engineering center that spans 25 acres.

40 percent of Guadalajara’s Population of 1.5 Mil is Linked to High-Tech 

But Sandoval wants more. In fact, he’s published an open letter to Silicon Valley companies, asking them to consider setting up in Mexico.  

A testament to his desire to expand, he also created the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology to help support his vision.

According to the Washington Post, “the past 15 years recorded an accumulated investment of more than US$ 4.5 billion, exports for US$ 148 billion and over 100,000 jobs, with the prospect of creating 6,000 new jobs each year. Additionally, the standard of living of its employees is higher than the industry average. “

Bismarck Lepe, former Google employee – and son of Jalisco immigrants to the U.S. who worked as agricultural laborers in California – has returned to his parent’s homeland to create Wizeline Inc, a business applications and software company. His reason to return to Jalisco: In Guadalajara both universities and businesses are focused on advancing the technological environment, in Silicon Valley, growth was very organic and took a long time to be given, but support here has allowed development to be faster.”

“Guadalajara, Guadalajara: Thousands of High-tech Workers”

Many are singing the praises of Sandoval and the collective Mexican drive to expand its high-tech fortunes.

If one were to revisit the lyrics of the classic song,  instead of  “son mil palomos to case rio– a thousand pigeons are your village –  it might read  a thousand startups and high tech companies, all flocking to Guadalajara, Guadalajara.