Douglas, Arizona, is a city of commercial, historical and cultural importance to the state of Arizona and the United States more generally. The closure of the Phelps Dodge smelter in 1987 marked the end of an industrial economy in Douglas and the rise in the relative importance of crossborder retail and logistics as principal drivers of City sales tax revenue as well as employment. This study was undertaken as a way of reevaluating the crossborder component of Douglas’ economy and what overlooked opportunities might be attainable for the City of Douglas and its business community.
The importance of crossborder shoppers from Mexico to the City’s fiscal health is difficult to overstate. A 2017 study commissioned by the City of Sierra Vista and the Sierra Vista Metropolitan Planning Organization found that over 90 percent of Mexico-residing border crossers surveyed for that project identified Douglas as their trip destination. The significance of this largely one-sided visitation phenomenon is apparent when you look at the larger picture of crossborder visitation to Douglas: in 2016, approximately 2.9 million car passengers and nearly 852,000 pedestrians used the Raul H. Castro POE – with the vast majority of these being residents from Sonora.
The North American Research Partnership and Crossborder Group appreciate the opportunity to do this research project for the City of Douglas, Arizona.