Colombian investment promotion agency ProBarranquilla is hopeful of creating 2,500 jobs by the end of this year by bringing in $700 million in foreign investment. The agency, celebrating 25 years in service, claims to have contributed to 50% of investment in the Colombian province over the past decade.
IT and BPO companies appear to be its favorites, because the sector accounts for nearly 20% of foreign investment in the region. Of 21,500 jobs created in the past ten years, 68% should be attributed to ProBarranquilla, says the agency’s Director Anne Badel.
Initially, ProBarranquilla’s primary job was to lobby for local businesses in the government, but its aims have since changed and it soon started devoting all its time to luring investors to the area.
Thanks to its lobby, Barranquilla has grown into the fourth largest city in Colombia, after Bogota, Medellin and Cali. The agency currently presides over WAIPA, the world association of investment promotion agencies.
With about 116 members, ProBarranquilla works alongside the local chamber of commerce and persuades the government to improve the investment climate. BPO firm American Sykes, U.S. steel company Corpac Steel and the Chilean firm Portoazul Clinic are some of the foreign businesses the agency successfully persuaded to launch operations in Barranquilla.
Analysts say that a business-friendly government, high-skilled labor and the expanding industrial parks are the major drivers of foreign investment in Colombia.
ProBarranquilla claims to have supported more than 50% of companies invested in Barranquilla in the past nine years, the majority of them from Chile, the United States and Spain.
“We have supported 354 of 616 companies that invested in the state of Atlántico,” said the agency. Barranquilla is the capital of the northern state of Atlántico.