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Mexicali's proximity to the United States presented an advantage for exporting companies to establish manufacturing plants. Coca Cola, Nestle, Televisa, Black & Decker, Emerson Electric, Goldstar, Mistubishi and Sony are just a few companies who have moved south of the border.

Mexicali is also the center of one of Mexico's largest and most important agricultural regions. The Imperial Canal, which transverses the city from east to west was constructed in 1902 and brought with it a large number of Chinese immigrants who were engaged in the construction. Many locals intermarried and their Chinese ancestry is evident in many Mexicans from this region.

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