Originally Posted: April 12 , 2016
DALLAS (SMU) – SMU will expand its study of the important relationship between Texas and its cross-border neighbor by establishing the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center. The center will be part of the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies in Dedman College and will work in collaboration with the Cox School of Business.
The center is made possible by a total commitment of $4 million from GRUMA-Mission Foods, a Mexican corporation based in Dallas. The corporation made a commitment of $1 million in September 2015 toward the establishment of the unique initiative, first called “The Texas-Mexico Program,” to begin researching and promoting policy-based discussion on the economic, political and social ties between Mexico and Texas.
An additional $3 million from GRUMA-Mission Foods will support the expanded reach of the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center, whose research programs will focus on such issues as trade, investment, dynamic economic sectors, government and political relations, human capital and security.
The additional gift was announced at an April 7 SMU conference featuring an address by Claudia Ruiz Massieu, Mexico’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. She noted that the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center will be pivotal to strengthening the links between industry and the academy, and called the effort a “public-private success story.”
“We share more in common than what divides us,” Ruiz Massieu said. “That’s why this program is so important. America is a beacon of liberty that represents a bridge of understanding, one not built by divisive rhetoric.”
“I’m sure the late Sen. John Tower would be pleased to know that the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center will be rooted in the academic center at SMU that carries his name,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Being able to partner with the Cox School, particularly through its Texas Economic Freedom Project, creates a strategic opportunity for improving relations between Texas and Mexico whose benefits can’t be overstated.”
GRUMA Chairman of the Board and CEO Juan Antonio González Moreno drew sustained applause from conference attendees when, in announcing the financial commitment, he said, “Today we are building bridges, not walls. Working together is the best way to find solutions to common challenges.”
The center will make public policy recommendations based on discussion and research on Mexico-U.S. economic, historic, political, social, and border issues through:
Production of original research, reports, and white papers
Binational, bilingual annual conferences
Academic seminars and public forums
Research conducted through the center will help to shape the growing economic relationship between North Texas and Mexico, between Texas and Mexico, and between the United States and Mexico. The research is expected to stimulate economic dialogue and integration among regions and states in Mexico and the U.S.
The expanded funding will enable SMU to recruit a recognized leader to direct the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center. The executive director will report to the dean of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, home of the Tower Center, and will travel regularly to Mexico to collaborate with partnering institutions and to present findings from center research projects.
Mexico’s Consul General Octavio Tripp noted the appropriate timing of the announcement, occurring during a presidential election season that includes debate on issues of immigration and border security. “This event is like a dream come true … especially at such a relevant time,” Tripp said. “The Center will allow for understanding in a systematic, holistic way.”
SMU and Dallas are at the geographic crossroads of the increasingly integrated market amplified by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Mexico and Canada. The city also is home to the greatest concentration of Fortune 100 companies in the United States outside of New York City. Texas exported to Mexico goods valued at more than $102 billion in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, and imported from Mexico goods valued at over $90 billion for the same period.
“Clearly, the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center has the potential to significantly improve relations between neighbors who depend on each other,” said
Brad Cheves, SMU vice president for development and external affairs. “We are grateful for the opportunity to make a real difference in international relations.” READ MORE