A shared past does not guarantee a shared future.

While a map may tell the story of two states separated by an international border, political and business leaders in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico, say there is room to grow together by investing in new technologies.

KGUN 9 is sharing several conversations with influential figures in economic and trade agreements, who themselves are watching two governors navigate a regional economy.

“I’m really, really proud of the work that the Arizona-Mexico Commission has done for 64 years,” Jaime Chamberlain said.

This past march, Chamberlain, president of the Nogales food distribution company that bears his surname, said he did not take the news he was removed from the commission’s board as a personal affront.

In her first term, Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs has the executive power to clean the slate for this at-will board.

Chamberlain, sharing his impression hours after learning he could reapply to the commission, said he was optimistic Hobbs could reassemble a team.

The group, he said, should leverage their rapport with leaders in Sonora, many who may already have a connection to current governor Alfonso Durazo.

“That goes on whatever administration that is,” Chamberlain said. “I think that’s the that’s the value of the Arizona-Mexico commission; 64 years through many different administrations going forward, looking at that continuity of relationships.”

From Chamberlain’s hometown to a convention center room in downtown Tucson, business leaders and entrepreneurs see a future that grows both states’ economies. The key will be smoother trading so both sides can each invest and grow their chosen manufacturing focus.

“Maintaining a good neighbor policy is essential for the prosperity for both states,” envoy David Figueroa said. “Working together increase(s) the opportunities for trade, investment and infrastructure. It also strengthens the cultural and friendship ties that give our region its identity.”

Figueroa works in Phoenix as Gov. Durazo and Sonora’s representative. He said political leaders look forward to putting Sonora’s new State Sustainable Energy Plan into a higher gear.

Already, he said, there’s a solar energy park in Puerto Peasco (Rocky Point) which, according to Figueroa, can generate a gigawatt 1,000 megawatts of energy. Their plan doesn’t stop there.

“We have five more in the pipeline to install in Sonora, to open a major capacity to produce clean energy,” Figueroa said.

For the long term, the Sonoran energy plan wants to spur electric vehicle production and keep supply lines with the U.S. strong. On the Arizona side, communities have already seen major companies invest billions of dollars to supercharge the production of critical semiconductor chips.

“It’s an enormous opportunity and there, is where we’ll complement each other, Sonora and Arizona,” Figueroa said. “It’s the logic that I’ve mentioned before: we have to see and treat each other as allies, as one region.”

Chamberlain said, from his perspective, he’s seeing that wave of re-investing “nearshoring” jobs and factories once shipped to other countries because of globalization manufacturing in North America.

“Even if (companies) are relocating in the U.S., there are some parts, some things that they do make in Mexico so their proximity to the border is important,” he said. “You see an explosion in Tucson; manufacturing and companies coming in and headquarters in whether it’s in Chandler, Casa Grande, etc.”

Nogales may offer a model for other border cities to follow. Chamberlaid said, based on recent discussions, the AZ-Mex Commission played a role in persuading U.S. Border Patrol to join a new project as partners.

Food and manufacturing distributors, he said, want to test an EV program where trucks, piloted by qualified drivers, can cross between checkpoints every day, several times a day, while also reducing their vulnerability to ever-increasing fossil fuel prices.

“There are lots of drivers in Mexico that bring products to Nogales, Sonora, who don’t have a visa. So they drop them off with certain carriers that come back and forth multiple times during the day,” Chamberlain said. “(They can) bring in already completed manufactured goods, or come in to drop off produce to one of our warehouses.”>

Figueroa, in his optimism for the future, borrowed a quoted phrase from former AZ Gov. Paul Fannin.

“‘If life (God) made us neighbors, let us be good neighbors.’ What a simple phrase, but at the end of the day, you’ll find a wealth of logic and wisdom in it.”