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The Enabling Firepower of Infrastructure

Reading about the astonishing new international airport being built in Beijing. Commissioned on 5 years ago, it is nearly ready to open on a grand scale. It will handle as many passengers as the present facility within another 5 years. They need it to keep up with the expansion of travel in a burgeoning vibrant economy. Read about in the New York Times new, and very informative, series on the Chinese miracle.
That government can sure get things done. The new cities, railways, highways that have allowed its employment engine to get legs have a boldness that is breathtaking on our side of the Pacific. Of course, there have been a few casualties – displaced people, lovely rustic villages bulldozed – but the overall uplift for the majority has been likewise staggering.
This is not government posturing or political bluster. This is real, tangible enabling change.
I’m perched on a verandah overlooking a cove along the golden morning coast in Huatulco. A radiant morning sun greets me from the tiled palapa protected patio – the gentle lulling of surf below. Yes, we are looking east. Go figure. I’m all turned around.
Palms wave gently opposite, looking across from this stepped down hillside “B and B” – the Aqua Azul [“Blue Water”] niched into the crown of a colline.
It’s hard to believe 25 years ago, this stretch of coast was nothing. Well, not nothing, but an undeveloped paradise.
It was then that the government put its finger on the map and said, “Build it here!”
So shall it be.
An international airport, 4 lane roads, power, water, sewer followed and not long after, the first few hotels. Flights began and as sure as frigid northerners follow the sun, prosperity ensued. Thousands of people had jobs, a new economic base had been created.
Sure there were casualties. Former fishing villages found themselves upscaled. Rampant building. Most of it tasteful, from my initial sight.
Generally, give the clean slate, the level of infrastructure here is superior to the rest of Mexico. And that allowed good things to follow.
Our world – back in Canada, and in many parts of the “developed” world – can’t seem to organize a one car parade. Although a stranded Western Canadian oil industry is literally perishing, we can’t build a pipeline to tidewater and gain access to international markets to save our souls. Too many interests to be accounted for. Too many voices to hear and possibly override. Too many constituencies involved.
The last major piece of enabling infrastructure I can think of was the visionary building of the Coquihalla Highway in BC. That one cut the driving time to Vancouver by 2 hours.
I can almost hear the counter arguments. “Yah, but..”. They are so strong, they drown initiative. And kill economic advance.
Sure, all economic advantage is not, per se, a good thing.

  • having been whisked down in 5 hours by our likewise visionary Westjet friends
  • feeling the onset of a warm humid day
  • amidst shadows cast across cream adobe walls and
  • contemplating exploring new beaches and soaking up a few rays,

it’s difficult to persuade me that this one on the west coast of southern Mexico was not a good thing….

PS. If you wish to receive more travel dispatches, hit reply and Suzan will add you to the travel blog list. If you’re already there, you will receive whatever I spiel off during our transit of a new [to us] part of Mexico.


Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

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Bringing out the best in you, your company and your people.

Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


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