Flavio Olivieri, Director of Tijuana's Economic Development Corporation
Leslie Sebastian, CEO, Cartha Labs.
CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. Tijuana is hosting a showcase of creativity and innovation for the world to see. International leaders in high-tech, business, and the creative arts will speak and lead discussions on a variety of themes focused on the future of innovation. My guests, Flavio Olivieri is the director of Tijuana's economic development corporation. Welcome to the show.
OLIVIERI: Thank you very much for having us.
CAVANAUGH: Lesley Sebastian is CEO of Cartha labs, which does business on both sides. The border.
SEBASTIAN: Thanks for having us.
CAVANAUGH: What are the goals of the Tijuana Innovadora?
OLIVIERI: The San Diego and Tijuana region has been consolidating for a lot of innovation, and business, and we're positioning ourselves worldwide as a region. So the purpose of this showcase is to highlight all of the good things that the region has and bring together opinion leaders and thought leaders on the process of innovation, on the process of creativity, and how we can better position our region. So it's a celebration, the good things that are going on, and also to understand and learn how to better position the region.
CAVANAUGH: As I understand it, you have broken this down into a series of themes. Give us an idea of some of the subjects that are going to be discussed.
OLIVIERI: Well, it's a great program. It's very wide. There's a lot of topics. And it's 10 days. So we have created different theme blocks. One of them is focused on creativity itself. The other one is focused more on industry and manufacturing and other industrial sectors like aerospace, electronics. And then there's a focus on people and human development. Creativity, leadership, entrepreneurship, social works or civic movement. It's really in those three main themes that we've distributed the speakers according to their expertise.
CAVANAUGH: And tell us about the speakers.
OLIVIERI: We have some very renowned people, and people who are opinion leaders in their own sectors. Maybe they're not very famous for everybody, but they're very well known within the sectors. Some of the most well known speakers are Steve Wozniak, the cofounder of apple. Theresa Anderson, the coeditor of Wired, magazine. Steve Berlin, he's one of the most renowned technologists and writers about technology from the more human side. Blake Mycoskie, who is the founder of Tom's Shoes. He's going to talk about especially responsibility and how companies can really be doing both things at the same time.
CAVANAUGH: Let me bring in Lesley Sebastian to our conversation. Since you do business on both sides of the border, how important is an event like this to companies like yours?
SEBASTIAN: It really helps highlight all of the opportunities and demystifies the region in general. Doing business in Mexico is such an opportunity in many, many ways. We're a company that sells to consumers, so there's a ready market there for us, and we're also a company that has to look at our profit and loss statement every month, and in these trying time, Mexico offers unbelievable opportunities. And it's a lot easier to deal with than regions such as China. Here's a neighbor that offers us leveraging opportunities for operations. This shows everyone the expertise and gets everyone familiar, and connects us with a whole bunch of experts.
CAVANAUGH: You used a word, demystify what it is to do business south of the border in Tijuana. What do you mean?
SEBASTIAN: Unfortunately I think everybody is patently aware of how Tijuana and the region has been portrayed. It's almost how unfairly we had in the United States are portrayed, as being rude Americans that do drugs and have guns. And Mexico is portrayed as the people shooting everyone and wringing the drugs across. And that's not correct. So what happens is when you go to the region and spend just a couple hours really seeing what's going on there and the quality of services and the quality of professionals, you're able to see how easy it is to do business there, how easy it is to enjoy what's available there, and how important it is as a region for us to come together. We are a region that must come together, and in some aspect, we are so lucky, some of the luckiest people in the world because we have these two great cities, San Diego, you can't say enough about it, and here we have Tijuana that has just exploded into this region of opportunity both for creativity, the arts, for businesses, consumers, it's unbelievable.
CAVANAUGH: Absolutely. [The|Ed] way you have been describing this, Flavio, it reminds me a little bit about the Ted Talks. I think a lot of people are familiar with those, where brilliant people in a variety of fields come together and talk about what's going on in their field. How does this compare?
OLIVIERI: It's very similar. We bring together these thought leaders. They're there to tell us about their perspective on how we can better improve our region or our world in general. So that is very similar. Also the format is similar in terms that there's short presentations, most of them are in panels, specific topics, and each one has, you know, 10, 15 minutes, very quickly present their idea, their thought, and then there's some discussion. So I think it's a very packed program. Every day we have 2 blocks, one in the morning, 1:00 in the afternoon, starting early in the morning, 8:00 in the morning and in the evening, they start at 3:00 in the afternoon and go up to 8:00. And we have transportation available for San Diegans that want to enjoy this event. And there'll be simultaneous translation available as well. The transportation is a shuttle. They'll be able to get this subtle at the Santa Fe station? Downtown San Diego. And they'll have expedited border crossing.
CAVANAUGH: Where are these events held in Tijuana?
OLIVIERI: At the Tijuana cultural center. This is a cultural center that is really a renowned center for the arts and for culture in general, for all of the northwest of Mexico. It's the premiere museum for art, and it's also one of the main historic museums as well. So this is the venue, it has many different areas where activities will be going on at the same time. Besides the speakers at the main theatre, we're going to have pavilions all throughout the museums, and the lobby. So companies and organizations will be able to share information and be more interactive, it's not like a divisional trade show where you go to a booth. This is more interactive. Companies like TJO global which is a company from Vista, they're going to have a big pavilion there. They had about 500 employees and then expanded into Tijuana about 15 years ago. Now they have about 2,500 employees in Vista. And they have another 20 or 2,000 in Tijuana. So they're just growing phenomenally.
CAVANAUGH: I cannot leave this subject without talking about the way it ends. It seems to get worldwide coverage, this dance across Tijuana. Tell us about that.
OLIVIERI: One of the features is that we're integrating many cultural activities. So there will be concert, opera singers walking around and singing opera, and there will be several dance performances, a fashion show, there'll be a culinary battle, and finally at the end will be this megadance that is going to be performed all throughout the city, and some other parts of the world. It's been rehearsed every day. And so this is just to close it off, a megadance being done simultaneously around the world.
CAVANAUGH: Let me ask you, how can people find out about attending?
OLIVIERI: Our website, Tijuana2012.com. And they'll see the full program there, and they'll have information how to buy tickets online, and where to call to reserve for the transportation.
CAVANAUGH: And it begins today, Thursday, runs through October 21st. Thank you both very much.
SEBASTIAN: Thank you.
OLIVIERI: Thank you.