- Associated Press - Monday, February 10, 2014

CHICAGO (AP) - A new center opening in Chicago will be a hub for Midwesterners with ties to the central State of Mexico, Gov. Pat Quinn and visiting Mexican officials announced Monday.

The center - named the Casa de Estado de Mexico - is for people in the U.S. connected to the central state, which is adjacent to Mexico City. The idea is to help people with social and legal services, such as processing marriage and birth certificates.

The center’s director, Esther Burgos Jimenez, estimates there are 500,000 people in the Midwest with such ties. The center is similar to one that exists in Texas.

Quinn and Gov. Eruviel Avila of the State of Mexico stopped at the center on the city’s near West Side for a celebratory ceremony and called it a chance for the two entities to continue a dialogue into other issues.

Quinn and Avila met last year while Quinn was in Mexico for a trade mission. The two men met privately at Quinn’s downtown Chicago office Monday to discuss water issues and education before visiting the center, Quinn said.

He said that such center will create a stronger link between the two entities.

“It really helps with our commerce, our connection on culture and education,” Quinn told reporters after the event.

The center is paid for by the State of Mexico, Burgos Jimenez said. It opens for business next week. Illinois officials said no state money was used for the project but it could help serve as a liaison with state authorities.

Avila and a contingent of other leaders and artists from the State of Mexico are visiting Illinois for two days, including a stop at Springfield’s Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Also, university officials from the state of Mexico are expected to sign an agreement with Illinois and the University of Illinois to collaborate in the sciences, such as veterinary medicine and animal genetics. The orchestra of the State of Mexico - Orquesta Sinfónica del Estado de México - was scheduled to play a free concert at a Chicago high school later Monday.

Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, has touted trade between the two countries. Since 2010 Mexico has purchased $1.9 billion in agricultural products from Illinois, according to Quinn’s office.


Follow Sophia Tareen at https://twitter.com/sophiatareen.

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