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A stroll across the facility’s vast production floor, which opened in January, gives one the sense of being surrounded by life-sized sections of a model airplane.

“This is the tail, and this part is where we put the rudder,” said Mr. Rodriguez, pointing to various sections of plane spread across the production floor. “Over there, those are the wings.”

Passing through the building’s spanking new corridors, meanwhile, can feel a bit like crossing the lobby of an international hotel. Dutchmen, Americans and Mexicans work side by side, with English the common language among them.

In one section of the plant, Daniel Gerardo appeared beside a half-built airplane wing to announce that he was having a “great experience” at the new plant.

Mr. Gerardo said he lived in Colorado for 10 years while growing up but later returned to his native Mexico and felt fortunate to have his current job.

“There’s a lot of work here in Mexico right now, but I feel very lucky that I got in here,” the 19-year-old said.

He explained that Fokker hired him in November and sent him through three months of training to prepare for the job of drilling and riveting wing sections together.

Tension over jobs

Mexican aerospace leaders understand that high-tech job creation in Mexico is a sensitive issue when U.S. unemployment rides steadily above 8 percent.

Several executives argued that growth in cities such as Chihuahua is actually sharpening the competitive edge of major U.S. companies on the world stage.

“We’re not trying to take jobs from other countries,” Mr. Mesta Delgado said. “What’s happening is that things are moving in the global market. By investing in operations, jointly or directly, in Chihuahua, a company can become stronger and more competitive on the global market by producing at a lower cost.”

That is why Nordam set up in Chihuahua, Mr. Luis Enriquez added.

“If it weren’t for this facility, we wouldn’t be able to bid competitively on the global level, and that would equate to a serious loss for U.S. jobs, not to mention the ability of the United States to embrace 21st-century thinking about business,” he said.

“Knowing that intensive labor-related jobs are already fleeing the United States, it’s either jump on the train, or you’re going to lose your competitive advantage to other countries like Brazil or China.

“If you’re going to have to go out of the United States, Mexico is a great choice.”

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