Collaborative project to assist Mexican agricultural producers

Author: Dennis K. Brown


The University of Notre Dame has received a $300,000 award from the U.S.-Mexico Training, Internships, Exchanges and Scholarships (TIES) Initiative to develop a project titled ?Cooperation on Rural Economic Development and Small Business Entrepreneurship.?p. p. TIES is a multi-million dollar public-private alliance designed to spur social and economic growth in Mexico by supporting university partnerships, educational programs and scholarships. It is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) with the goal of helping Mexico take full advantage of opportunities created by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Representatives from Notre Dame and 12 other U.S. colleges and universities, each with a partner institution from Mexico, were recognized earlier this month at a ceremony announcing the awards in Mexico City. Antonio O. ?Tony? Garza Jr., U.S. ambassador to Mexico, spoke at the event, urging increased collaboration between higher education and business to address regional challenges. He was joined by Edward Kadunc, director of USAID/Mexico, and Reyes Tamez Guerra, the Mexican Secretary of Education.

Working in cooperation with the University of Guadalajara and colleagues on campus, Notre Dame accounting professor Juan Rivera created a project designed to assist the small agricultural producers in Mexico who have been unable to realize the benefits of NAFTA due to poor financial management skills and marketing savvy and an inability to adapt to global competition. Focusing on the agricultural region of the Bajio surrounding the University of Guadalajara, the project will establish an ongoing program at Guadalajara of business training and outreach for Mexican nationals.

More specifically, over the next three years, seven faculty members from the MORE Add 1/Mexico projectbusiness and economics master’s programs at Guadalajara will receive academic-year visiting fellowships at Notre Dame. In the summers of 2005 and ?06, Notre Dame faculty will provide instruction in rural development and NAFTA markets to Mexican graduate students on the Guadalajara campus. In the third year of the program, Mexican faculty members who have returned from visiting fellowships at Notre Dame will assume the teaching responsibilities. The project also will include annual eight-week summer internships in Mexico for teams of three Mexican graduate students working in collaboration with three Notre Dame MBA students.

Joining Rivera as codirectors of the project are Christopher Welna, associate director of Notre Dame’s Kellogg Institute for International Studies, and Adrian de Leon Arias, who earned his doctorate in economics from Notre Dame and now is academic provost of the University Center for Economics and Business at the University of Guadalajara.

Other Notre Dame faculty members scheduled to participate in the program are Michael Etzel, professor of marketing; Rev. Daniel Groody, C.S.C., assistant professor of theology; Kwan Kim and Jaime Ros, professors of economics; and Lee Tavis, C.R. Smith Professor of Finance. Faculty and staff from the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies in the Mendoza College of Business also will provide training.

Notre Dame’s Mendoza College and Kellogg Institute have provided additional funds for the project.

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