CITY OF DREAMS

Colombia 2018 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Ana María Badel, Executive Director of ProBarranquilla, on building up the city's value proposition, openness to transformation, and work to attract both local and foreign investment.

Ana María Badel
BIOGRAPHY
Ana María Badel's work and commitment to the development of Barranquilla began from the District Mayor's Office, where she served as Advisor to the Special Projects Management of that entity. Since September 2011, it has been part of ProBarranquilla, the entity in charge of connecting Barranquilla and the Atlantic with the global economy. She started as an Investment Promotion Coordinator, promoting investment in the city and the department and supporting facilitation in the installation and expansion processes of investors in the region. Badel is the Executive Director of ProBarranquilla. Since 2013, the entity has supported more than 300 investment projects in the Atlantic, between installed and expanded.

What are the main highlights of 2017 for ProBarranquilla?

ProBarranquilla, like in other sectors, needs to continually revamp and update itself to continue contributing to the development of the region and the country. We have done this traditionally with attractions and amusement; however, now we have the great project of venturing into other strategic areas in this region to make Barranquilla more visible and promote the city. We want to convey the history of Barranquilla to local and international visitors. We want to explain what is happening here, the investment opportunities, the quality of life, and the feelings of pride and belonging in Barranquilla. We are working hard not only to attract investment but also to attract national and international events such as fairs and conventions related to the city's most successful industries. The economic spillover of these events helps to generate business. We also have exciting challenges; we want to move forward and be the pioneers in Colombia in attracting human talent. We will achieve this goal so long as the city has a value proposition that responds to the needs of this human talent. This proposal should consider cultural and educational issues, open areas, security, and everything else that is definitive when it comes to deciding where to live and work

What are the most important attractions of Barranquilla for local and international investors interested in the region?

Barranquilla is a multicultural and migrant port city. It is open to national and foreign investment. Investors who have come here have not encountered resistance, and that is key. However, the most important thing is that Barranquilla is open to transformation. The public and private sectors can work to transform the city. We can see this in the low level of unemployment, high public investment per capita, and significant infrastructure. Barranquilla is a long-term city, and this perspective affects the city in economic, cultural and social aspects, improving the quality of life and social cohesion. Investors find favorable spaces for business, free zones, industrial parks, and ports. In addition, they see excellent human resources, bilingualism, and a city that is committed to positioning itself and taking the business forward.

How has ProBarranquilla worked to promote the city abroad?

They are not missions pointing to a single result nor are they linked to a unique ProBarranquilla strategy. The missions have different objectives, and we have an extremely dedicated team committed to this work to identify sectors and opportunities. Some missions go to events to talk with investors who are evaluating investment opportunities in Latin America; other missions are in charge of completing work to identify and strengthen sectors we want to develop. Barranquilla as a city has a clear commitment to become a complete platform that provides services to the industry to the extent that we have decided to explore areas beyond the Caribbean Sea. ProBarranquilla is part of the board of directors of World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA), and we represent the Latin American investment agencies. WAIPA also has offices in Geneva and Turkey.

What are your goals for 2018?

ProBarranquilla wants to promote international cooperation. We focus on attracting national and international investment. We also want to help local companies expand to develop urban transformation. The sectors with the greatest potential are renewable energy, offshore, chemical industry, plastics, mechanics, and agroindustry.