By ROBERTO KANE

Reynosa, Mexico — Reynosa is a strong and vibrant industrial center and will likely hold up well to the economic crisis and recession, local officials predict.

Area maquiladora industries will be looking for opportunities to create more jobs and to maintain production in spite of tough economic times, according to Reynosa Mayor Lic. Oscar Luebbert Gutiérrez.

Currently, 189 maquiladoras are in operation in Reynosa and those most affected by the financial crisis and economic recession are involved in automotive and home appliance components manufacturing.

However, other maquila plants specializing in manufacturing electronics and biomedical products are actually expanding some operations. This growth has helped to offset losses in maquiladora industry employment caused by a downturn in the automotive industry worldwide, especially in the U.S.

In addition, the recent creation of an "Electronic Cluster" in Reynosa is a significant advantage for the city, helping Reynosa to boost its economy even under adverse economic conditions, the mayor said. This may even help Reynosa because many companies in North America, facing tough economic times, may see Northern Mexico and places like Reynosa, as attractive sites for relocation of production lines and facilities.

Meanwhile, in Matamoros, the maquiladora industry is also finding ways to adapt to unfavorable economic conditions. In a recent radio inteview, C.P. MÓnica González de Greer, president of the Matamoros Maquiladora Association (AMMAC) said that while there is an economic recession in the U.S., in Matamoros, industries are working on ways to re-invent processes and strategies to effectively cope with the situation.

Manufacturing plants, like Industrias GOBAR, which have for a long time been manufacturing parts and subassemblies for the automotive industry, are now adapting and retooling for making components for the telecommunications and electronics industries, and seeking out new customers.

While the automotive industry is down, other areas like telecommunications and electronics offer opportunities.

González's comments in Matamoros seem to echo the comments of Mike Willis, executive director of the South Texas Manufacturing Association, on KURV 710 AM Talk Radio who said that ‘'because our industrial and manufacturing base here in the RGV is more diversified, the maquiladora industry will weather the financial crisis and recession."

Although the automotive industry is suffering a downturn, other industries, like electronics and medical products manufacturing, are doing better. This is helping our area industries to keep on going, he commented.