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Investing in paradise

Article - September 27, 2013
Barranquilla has been ranked as one of the top 10 major cities with the best FDI strategies in the Americas. Mayor Elsa Margarita Noguera explains why her city deserves to be on the list
ELSA MARGARITA NOGUERA, MAYOR OF BARRANQUILLA
“My office could easily be mistaken for one dedicated to investment attraction. The reason is this: nothing dignifies a person more than the possibility of generating his or her own income” says Barranquilla’s Mayor Elsa Margarita Noguera, who explains that creating job opportunities for the people of Barranquilla is one of the main focuses of her administration.

“The government is not an ideal employer because it is too bureaucratic, too big. We have to become a government that creates the right conditions for foreign investors, so that the productive sector is the one that generates employment and opportunities for our people.” And she certainly seems to be on the right track to achieve that goal because fDi Intelligence, a division of The Financial Times, has named Barranquilla the eighth city in the Americas with the best FDI strategies. 
 
In the last decade foreign direct investment (FDI) has become the major economic driver of globalization. fDi Intelligence is one of the largest organizations specialized in the analysis of FDI impact all over the world. One of the categories it studies is which cities are implementing the best strategies to increase foreign investment that will benefit the locals.

Two Colombian cities were on that list (made up of 126 cities): Barranquilla (for the second time) and Cali. The other cities on this particular list were Managua, capital of Nicaragua, Chicago and Phoenix in the U.S., Guadalajara in Mexico, Buenos Aires in Argentina, and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. 
 
The Financial Times announcement definitely means good news for the people of Barranquilla and Colombia in general. As Ms. Noguera explains, it also puts more pressure on the local administration to work harder and faster to reach its goals: “This increases our commitment because it means we are not only on the map of local investors; now Barranquilla has begun to position itself on the international business map.” Being in that position also means that many adjustments have to be made in the city, so that investors can see it as a great possibility for their companies.

Ms. Noguera says her administration will put special effort into “investing in transportation infrastructure and consolidating the city’s finances.” 
 
But not all the changes that the Mayor plans to make – and has already started making – are as tangible as improving roads and general infrastructure. She also considers it to be highly important “to have a solid government, one that inspires trust and plays by very clear and simple rules.

This way, investors will see the government as an ally and an associate.” Colombia has had a longstanding democracy – one of the longest in South America – and its economic policies clearly show that investors are welcome here and that they have the guarantee of investing in a stable, rapidly growing country. Barranquilla is on the road to becoming one of the cities that better show the welcoming policy that reigns in Colombia. 

 
This coastal city has a great privilege: it is located exactly at the point where the Magdalena River (the country’s main waterway) and the Caribbean Sea coincide. This means that Barranquilla is the perfect point of entry not only into the country’s coast but to its inner regions too. In the words of Ms. Noguera: “Colombia has to connect with the world through Barranquilla and, at the same time, the world has to connect with Colombia through Barranquilla.” This geographical position has been of great help in the growth of the city, just like the free trade agreements that the national government has signed in the past few years. 
 
Another of the Mayor’s main goals during her administration is to close the social gap that, sadly, still exists in Barranquilla today. “We spend at least half of our time attending our social programs and our most marginalized people,” she says.

To achieve that goal, Ms. Noguera’s administration has a development plan called ‘Barranquilla blossoms for everyone’ and its results have been gratifying: “In our first year with this development plan, Barranquilla was the city that made the biggest efforts to reduce poverty: we achieved an 18% reduction in poverty and a 30% reduction in extreme poverty.”   
 
It seems that for Barranquilla, the future can only be brighter. fDi Intelligence ranked the city in the eighth position this year. Maybe in their next review they will find that improvements have been such that Barranquilla deserves to be positioned even higher on the list. 

  4 COMMENTS



Henry Ramirez
01/10/2013  |  14:12
100% of 1

¡¡ Qué divina la alcaldesa !!

Ana María Orejuela
01/10/2013  |  15:10
100% of 1

Esta mujer es un ejemplo para todas las personas, discapacitadas y no-discapacitadas !!

Jeff Kingsley
09/10/2013  |  3:35
100% of 1

Bless her, she seems to be really inspiring

Pitix
11/10/2013  |  15:03
100% of 1

La tierra de Shakira, ¡¡ debe ser una maravilla !!