Juan Gabriel Pérez, executive director of Invest in Bogota talks to European Business Magazine regarding the highly exciting period of interest Bogota is experiencing from the International Business Community.
You’ are one of the heads of communications for Invest in Bogota.What are the biggest challenges you face to promote Bogota as an area of business
JGP: Bogotá faces the constant challenge of competing with the main capitals of Latin America and the world to attract investment. That is why we must continue using the strengths the city has and promote its best attributes to differentiate from their competition. In addition, taking advantage of the job that has been done, the city must remain in the “top of mind” of international investors, who recognize Bogotá as one of the main destinations for investment in the region. Also, considering that Colombia is part of the Pacific Alliance, Bogotá should position itself as a gateway for Asian countries to Latin American markets.
In your opinion, what projects were the most interesting/important ones for the agency
JGP: The strategy of Invest in Bogota is focused on attracting value-added companies that export from the city and improve the working conditions of the inhabitants of the city. As part of our work, from Invest in Bogota we have managed to attract investments from more than 45 countries in the last 2 years. In 2018 we have the goal to accompany the arrival of at least 40 foreign investment projects to the city
We have recently accompanied companies such as Amazon, that announced its arrival in Bogota with a customer service center in which it will employ more than 600 people and in which it will promote work modalities such as work at a distance. That is the type of investment that positively impacts an industry.In areas as infrastructure, Bogotá has important projects ahead that represent business opportunities for
USD13 billion. The projects include transportation systems, a water treatment plant or a new airport. All these projects are part of the work we do here. We help the city find global investors that can help build the infrastructure that Bogotá needs.
JGP: Over the past 10 years, from 2007 to the first semester of 2018, Bogota – Region received more than US$ 21.200 million of direct foreign investment in new projects (greenfield) and expansion. There are more than 1,000 projects of companies from different countries, generating an estimated of more than 118,000 new jobs.
For this period, three countries concentrated on half of the new FDI and expansion projects that Bogotá-Region received: United States (26%), Spain (16%) and France (7%). However, our strategy includes several markets from Europe, America and Asia.
In your opinion, what are the major attractions for global business to come to Bogota
JGP: Bogotá has been recognized over the last years as one of the best cities of Latin America to do business. The city has built its reputation as an investment destination in the region due to a workforce of more than 4.6 million people, a strategic location and a robust economy that also surpasses the countries of the Region as Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay or Bolivia. These factors have contributed to the city receiving some 930 investment projects for more than 20,000 million dollars between 2007 and 2017.
Additionally, the city has the first airport of the region in terms of air cargo movement and the third in passenger traffic, strengths that lead international companies to come to the city and, in many cases, make Bogota the center of regional their operations.
How has Bogota changed business wise in the last five years – there is a big start up community with very talented tech people. How has this come about?
Talent is one of the Bogotá’s most important strengths. A young and qualified workforce of more than 4.6 million people guarantees the scalability of any operation. The 128 institutions of higher education that the city has, enroll thousand students and graduate more than 158 thousand professionals and technicians per year. Additionally, Colombia has one of the most efficient labor markets in Latin America.
In the technology sector, the city has become an important player, with international companies that have stablished their regional hubs in the city, that has approximately 84,000 graduates of engineering professionals related to the IT sector over the past 15 years.
Can you say a few words about the future? What does it look like for Invest Bogota and how will the city deal with transport issues and what is the situation with the proposed project for the Metro?
Bogotá’s current infrastructure projects will bring a positive change for the city. The improvement of transportation systems is also accompanied with new housing and industrial projects that will keep making Bogota a key destination to invest.
For the coming years, Bogotá has a defined north in terms of productive development, which is marked by the Smart Specialization Strategy of the city. This is an exercise through which the Chamber of Commerce of Bogota, the Mayor’s Office, the private company and the academy have defined an integrated agenda of productive development collectively constructed for the transformation of Bogotá and Cundinamarca based on knowledge and innovation.