Ross Report Cites Mexican City as a Model for Building Sustainable Communities Worldwide
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Ross Multidisciplinary Action Project (MAP) recently conducted an intensive study on standard-of-living improvements at Nuevo Juan del Grijalva in Chiapas, Mexico. Grupo Salinas, a group of fast-growing and technologically advanced companies committed to the modernization of the countries in which they operate, worked to develop the city after a natural disaster in 2007.
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In 2007, Juan del Grijalva was severely affected by heavy rains and a mudslide that destroyed a large portion of the town. Today, thanks to coordination between Fundación Azteca — Grupo Salinas' non-profit organization — and the Government of Chiapas, Nuevo Juan del Grijalva is a developed rural city. A team of students from Ross dedicated themselves to discovering why the city was able to recover — and how other cities might benefit from the same steps.
The study is just one of many MAP assignments first-year students take on as part of the Ross School's commitment to action-based learning. MAP charges students to tackle real problems at real organizations, including corporate, entrepreneurial, and nonprofit projects. All projects require analytical rigor, critical thinking, and teamwork. The goal is to build a bridge between the academic environment and the world of business practice.
According to the students' MAP findings, the project represents important advances for the community in the areas of infrastructure (potable water, electricity, and public roads); housing, including 410 modern homes that were designed to comply with residents' cultural preferences, and allotted space for 590 more homes; services, including schools, health centers, childcare, and adult support venues; businesses that add value to the community and generate long-term jobs; and community development, to consolidate solid public institutions and foster social life.
Fundación Azteca and the Chiapas state government's efforts were supported by the Mexican government and other foundations, as well as by the population of Nuevo Juan del Grijalva, a combination that made possible the significant improvements in the community. The Ross report suggests that Nuevo Juan del Grijalva can serve as a guide to replicate the successful model to other regions in Mexico and the world.
"Nuevo Juan del Grijalva provides invaluable lessons for rural communities or areas recovering from crises around the world," says Noel Tichy, professor of management and organizations; director of the Global Leadership Program; and head of the Ross School task force. "The success of this sustainable city can be replicated in places across Mexico, and the globe such as India, China, or other Latin American countries."
"The dramatic transformations to improve the living standards of the community resulted from accurate planning, proper coordination of material resources, and foremost, the determination of the people of Nuevo Juan del Grijalva to prosper,” says Salinas, president of Grupo Salinas. "The community now has the elements to further promote value-added activities, increase labor productivity, and be an example to improve well-being elsewhere on a permanent basis."
Nuevo Juan del Grijalva concentrates small communities that were previously geographically scattered in order to efficiently provide quality public services that were otherwise unfeasible due to a lack of economies of scale. This has prompted the establishment of businesses that provide jobs and long-term income for workers in the commercial and agricultural sectors.
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Grupo Salinas (www.gruposalinas.com) is a group of companies focused on creating shareholder value, building the Mexican middle class, and improving society through excellence. Created by Mexican entrepreneur Ricardo B. Salinas, Grupo Salinas operates as a management development and decision forum for the top leaders of member companies.
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