Mayors in Yuma County and San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, the Yuma County Board of Supervisors and Cocopah Nation have been collaborating on economic development for several years. The result of this coordination is the creation of a binational regional economic development effort. This effort has been branded 4FrontED. The defined geographic area includes Yuma County, the municipality of San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, and surrounding population from Algodones and the valleys of San Luis Rio Colorado. The combined estimated regional population is 543,247. The estimated population for San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, is 340,000.
Manufacturing is a key industry in San Luis, and maquiladoras play an important part in developing these industries, including the Top 5 industries listed below:
San Luis and the border Sonoran Region includes several universities and technical institutes, such as: Universidad Tecnológica de San Luis Río Colorado, Universidad Tecnológica de Guaymas, Universidad Tecnológica de Etchojoa and Universidad Tecnológica de Hermosillo, all of them in the state of Sonora, Mexico.
Baja California, Mexico:
Mexicali, the capital city of the state of Baja California, is a 75-minute commute from Yuma, Arizona. Its 690,000 residents [2010 census] make it the second most populous municipality in Baja California, and one with a highly skilled and educated population, making it an important part of the 4FrontED vision in the desert region near the U.S.-Mexico border.
Mexicali is a critical center for the maquiladora, or assembly plant, production in industries like aerospace, automotive, telecommunications, and health. Additionally, one of its strongest industries is agriculture.
Mexicali is home to multiple public universities such as: Autonomous University of Baja California - Campus Mexicali, Universidad Politécnica de Baja California, and the Mexicali Institute of Technology. It is also home to private universities: Centro de Enseñanza Técnica y Superior, University of the Valley of Mexico, and Xochicalco University.
4FrontED engaged Mexicali in discussions about possible collaborations in higher education between the United States and Mexico. 4FrontED staff member Paul Melcher, Deputy Administrator for Yuma County, partook in discussions with multiple universities from across the states of Arizona, Baja California, and Sonora, until they all collectively came together in March 2016 to sign a memorandum of understanding. The MOU stated the universities would continue to work together in the binational megaregion on making higher education more accessible to students on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border and that they would be cross-collaborating on programs and academic curricula. Arizona Western College, in Yuma, Arizona, hosted a ceremony on March 29, 2017, commemorating the alliance between the universities known as the “Four Borders International Academic Alliance, which is a five-year, nonbinding understanding encouraging collaborations between the 11 schools on binational degree programs, classes, student exchanges, and research.