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Minority Business Owners Encouraged To Participate In SkyBridge Development

The Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority is developing a new customs facility to be used for American goods headed to Mexico.

The SkyBridge project is the first international air cargo customs hub between the U.S. and Mexico, and when complete, is expected to cover 360 acres at the airport.  Frankie Jo Rios is president and CEO of the East Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She said the chamber’s mission is to bring what she calls the “economic powerhouse of the Hispanic purse” to big projects like SkyBridge by getting minority-owned small businesses to participate in a way that benefits their business.

“When people want to send things to Mexico, it takes about maybe two to three weeks to get to its destination. And now with this hub here, it’s going to take two to four days maybe to get to the destination,” Rios said.

Reduced shipping time means a faster collection of payments which can make a big difference in the cash flow cycle for small and family-owned business. A January estimate from the airport totaled air freight trade between Arizona and Mexico at $390 million annually, growing 180 percent from 2011 to 2015. By 2025, air freight trade is expected to exceed $650 million. 

Mesa Mayor John Giles said last year the cargo program makes Mesa appealing to online retailers looking to send goods to Mexico. Developers estimate the entire project to generate approximately 17,000 new jobs.

Heather van Blokland was a host at KJZZ from 2016 to 2021.