"It is a new day for Arizona and Mexico," said Arizona Governor Doug Ducey following a glowing 'Welcome to Mexico' and 'let's do some business with Arizona' event by billionaire Carlos Slim Helú in a private dinner reception for the Governor and a group of Arizona business leaders at Mr. Slim's Soumaya museum in Mexico City.
During the event, Mexico City-born 2010 Diamondbacks pitcher Rodrigo Lopez joined the Governor in giving the host a Number 15 honorary Diamondbacks jersey with 'Slim' on the back.
The Arizona group was invited to tour the six-floor Soumaya museum, named for Mr. Slim's late wife, Soumaya Domit, which contains over 66,000 art works from 30 centuries including an extensive repertoire of works by European old masters and other masters such as Auguste Rodin, Salvador Dalí, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo and Tintoretto, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh. A special collection honors the life of Sophia Loren who, in September 2014, celebrated her 80th birthday with Mr. Slim in the museum.
A number of Mr. Slim's family were in attendance at the Arizona delegation reception. Marco Lopez, from Intermestic, a company that represents Mr. Slim's companies in the U.S., led off the evening with a presentation.
"When Mr. Slim was recently in Arizona, he was asked (by Business Journal's publisher Ray Schey) about his greatest accomplishment in life; he answered without hesitation 'My family'. Now, tonight, he shares his greatest accomplishment with you -- a dinner with his family."
Mr. Slim expressed appreciation for being invited to Arizona to speak in a special event two months ago, and he welcomed the group of Arizona business leaders to explore the many open doors of opportunity with Mexico. Governor Ducey responded unequivocally with "Arizona is open for business with Mexico." The Governor thanked those who have worked hard on the cross-border relationship over the years, but said, the best is yet to come, and "we are here today to talk about Arizona and Mexico's future!"
This special event was the kickoff of the Governor's visit to Mexico City to meet with members of the President's Cabinet, the American Ambassador, key business leaders -- and to formalize memoranda of understanding with strategic business-to-business initiatives. David Farca and Kim Sabow of the Governor's transition team and the Arizona Mexico Commission commented that they have worked for many months, to put the event together with the assistance of the State's Mexico City office and other leaders.
Kim Sabow commented, "this took a team effort to make this happen." David Farca commented, "we are committed that this is only the beginning of many other visits to Mexico in the future."
The Phoenix Mexican Consul Roberto Rodriguez was also instrumental in the planning and communications with Mexico City in advance of the trip. I was fortunate to present Consul Rodriguez with the 'Diplomat of the Year' Award from the Global Chamber Phoenix two days earlier.
At his table, Consul Rodriguez discussed with other guests that the dinner at Soumaya was filled with rich symbolism of the exciting opportunities to grow the Arizona – Mexico relationship: "new", "modern" and "breathtaking" aspects reflected in the Soumaya location, a deep and rich shared heritage reflected in the incredible treasures of art and culture on display, and demonstration of commitment and resolve for a joint successful future as reflected by Mr. Slim, the Governor and key leaders from both sides of the border.
Mike Patterson, Shareholder at Polsinelli