SAN ANTONIO _ If President Clinton needs a positive example to
help sell the pending North American Free Trade Agreement to the
public and Congress, he need look no further than the Alamo
While northern cities such as Detroit complain about losing
jobs to Mexico, a recent study of companies in San Antonio found
at least 200 of them doing business with Mexico.
And, city officials say, those companies employ more than
65,000 workers who directly or indirectly interact in commerce
south of the border.
"And the investments aren't going one way," Mayor Nelson Wolff
said. "The investments are going both ways."
Wolff pointed to the study, which found about 30 Mexican-owned
companies established and conducting business in San Antonio.
Those Mexican-owned companies employ about 350 San Antonians,
"Not only is San Antonio perfectly positioned geographically
as the first and largest metropolitan area past the border," said
Clinton Bolden Jr., director of the city's Economic Development
Department, "but San Antonio also has a population and a culture
that is friendly toward doing business with Mexico."
If the free-trade agreement survives an expected close vote in
the U.S. House this fall and goes into effect Jan. 1, Bolden said
San Antonio is well-positioned for companies seeking a "home
base" for capturing trade among Canada, the United States and
The accord with Canada and Mexico over 15 years would phase
out most barriers, including duties to the free flow of goods,
services and investment.
"San Antonio has the potential of being just as strong a
commercial trading center as Hong Kong is to China," Bolden said.
"San Antonio can be that to Mexico."
Businesses in San Antonio have known that for years.
Nelwyn Graham, business manager for Allied Feeds Inc., said
about 10 percent of their livestock and pet feed business is with
"We sell more to Nuevo Leon and Monterrey in particular," she
said. "We are just now starting to get farther south in the areas
north of Mexico City."
Allied Feeds, which employs 30 people in San Antonio, has its
corporate headquarters in Cuero.
But having a feed-processing mill in the Alamo City has
benefited the development of links to Mexico, Graham said.
"There are so many people from Monterrey _ and from Mexico in
general _ who come to San Antonio and feel comfortable doing
business here," she said.
Allied Feeds has two other plants in Texas, but Graham said
all the Mexico business flows through the San Antonio operation. …