Earning the title ‘City of the Year 2012’ the capital of Antioquia has been and praised for having implemented innovative and sustainable measures for improving the quality of life for its close to 2 million inhabitants. As Colombia’s second largest city and one of the vital engines of economic growth in country, Medellín has always taken pride in being a key hub for banking and mining companies as well as an attractive place to do business, given an ideal location close to the coffee axis and the coasts of both the Pacific and Caribbean.
Already the hub of Colombia’s textile industry, Medellin is home to the country’s powerful Sindicato Antioqueño Group of insurance and finance companies and one of the nation’s largest private banks, Bancolombia, recently inaugurated their new corporate headquarters on what used to be a derelict industrial park. After winning over 25 other global gateways for the Citigroup – Wall Street Journal award, Medellin has also witnessed a steady growth in tourism, increasing 13.7 percent so far this year, over total figures for 2012.
As an optimistic gateway to doing business in Colombia, the new business “boom” of Medellín has been accompanied with the arrival of foreign companies working in software development and the B2B cluster. Velocity Partners, whose clients include Amazon and Microsoft was one of the recent United States-based companies to choose Medellín over other cities in Colombia given a clear investment objective by the mayoralty to push the technology and BPO sectors, reported an article in El Tiempo.
As more foreign business look the Medellín as a prospective business capital, the city’s international airport José Maria Cordova has embarked on an expansion of its infrastructure to accommodate this increase in passenger traffic. In 2011, the nation’s only low-cost carrier VivaColombia chose Medellín over Bogotá as their main base of operations, and recently U.S carrier JetBlue started daily service from their Fort Lauderdale hub to Antioquia’s capital.
Another important U.S firm which opted for Medellín this year is Instiglio. As a nonprofit social enterprise, the company emits social impact bonds (SIB) and works on results-based financing programs in low and middle-income countries. With a mission to empower leaders in the social, public, and private sectors, Instiglio, follows IT service providers Globant and American Express in choosing Medellín as a gateway to this country.
With plenty of positive exposure in the international press given its important cultural attractions as well as, the host city for the high profile fashion fair ColombiaModa, Medellín has been on the offensive to distance itself from the negative stereotypes associated with the cocaine trade and a cartel which was entrenched in the city during the early 1990s. “Medellín’s transformation has been remarkable if one considers that only a decade ago people feared for their lives with the mere mention of our name,” states Andrés Henao, a tour operator who works closely with multi-nationals.
Making social inclusion and equality a bastion of local government policy, Medellín remains determined in attracting big names in business as it does in offering its citizens educational attractions such as the Explorer Science Park and Botanical Gardens. Many of the city’s main attractions are located in struggling neighborhoods encouraging the mingling of people from different backgrounds.
Home to many Colombian “blue chip” corporations, part of Medellín’s success comes down to good governance and use of public funds. But above all, it’s a philosophy on progress – putting people ahead of politics.