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Celebrating the Past and Planning the Future of Wichita and Tlalnepantla, Mexico 

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  • Celebrating the Past and Planning the Future of Wichita and Tlalnepantla, Mexico 
Wichita Trip to Tlalnepantla

In July, Friends University, Wichita Area Sister Cities, Kansas Global Trade Services, and two Wichita City Councilmembers – Maggie Ballard and Jeff Blubaugh – traveled to Tlalnepantla de Baz, Mexico. The purpose of the trip was a combination of the Friends University Global MBA study trip and a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Wichita’s Sister City relationship with Tlalnepantla.   

For this year’s trip, the Global MBA students were tasked to perform market research on assigned economic sectors of interest for both cities. Before the trip, the students conducted online research. While in Tlalnepantla, the students talked with government and business officials about Tlalnepantla’s economy and their specific sectors. By the end of August, their reports will be finalized and presented to the City of Wichita to determine how the two Sister Cities might better build their economic relationships in the coming years. In future years, GMBA students will continue to investigate economic opportunities each summer as part of their study-abroad trips to cities and countries around the globe.   

Although a suburb of Mexico City, Tlalnepantla is significantly larger in population than Wichita, with approximately 700,000 people. Mexico City and other neighboring suburbs surround it. Like the Wichita area, it is a logistics hub moving products into and throughout Mexico. With over 2,700 companies located in Tlalnepantla, the city also has a variety of industries, such as chemical products, food processing, and machinery production. We had the opportunity to tour a food chemical plant in one of Tlalnepantla’s industrial parks. In addition, the Mayor of Tlalnepantla convened a forum with multiple Tlalnepantla companies for our group to determine what potential economic relationships might exist.  

The immediate economic connections were not clear on the ground. For example, Tlalnepantla is not an aviation hub in Mexico. However, the growing trend of “nearshoring” – bringing U.S. manufacturing back to North America – was discussed as a potential area in which Tlalnepantla may be able to work with some of our manufacturers in the future. Tlalnepantla has plastic and metal manufacturers that could supply component parts to industries in Wichita and Kansas.  

Beyond Tlalnepantla itself, we traveled to Mexico City and visited Xochimilco, the remaining canals of the former Aztec water system. Today, colorful gondola-like boats take tourists up and down the canals while food vendors, artisans, and mariachi bands float by on their boats. This more touristy visit sparked an idea amongst our group to re-create something like this experience for our community along the Arkansas River. One of the GMBA students asked to change their research project to a business plan to make this idea a reality. Sometimes the import of ideas from other places can be a significant economic contributor to our community!  

In addition, we met potential artisans in and around the Mexico City area that would like to participate in Kansas Global’s upcoming Global Holiday Market in December at Riverfront Stadium. We met with jewelry makers, carpet and textile weavers, potters, etc., who we hope to bring into Wichita to represent the diversity and creativity of Mexican cultures.  

Our trip to Tlalnepantla and the Greater Mexico City area was multi-faceted. We celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Wichita-Tlalnepantla Sister City relationship; the students performed on-the-ground research to supplement their desk-top investigations; and we grew new relationships with Tlalnepantla’s government and business communities.