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Barranquilla's big little helper

Article - December 19, 2013
Barranquilla is one of Colombia's most investment friendly cities, thanks to its geographical advantages and the work of an organization called ProBarranquilla
Executive Manager Ana María Badel has been at the head of ProBarranquilla for less than a year, but her many efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. The organization she presides over is in charge of looking for investment opportunities from foreign and national investors and helping them locate in Barranquilla with as little difficulty as possible.

“This generates employment and economic development in the city and the region, and that is our ultimate goal,” explains Mrs. Badel. The organization does more than just look for possible projects, in fact, it focalizes on investment attraction and promotion, and after an investor decides to establish himself in the city, ProBarranquilla helps him through the whole process. 
“Who owns ProBarranquilla? 116 national, foreign and local companies that support investment attraction and promotion through this organization,” says its Executive Manager. These companies are affiliated to the organization and they voluntarily support and finance its work in the hope that the economy will become more dynamic – something that would eventually benefit them directly. Other organizations that support ProBarranquilla are the local Mayor’s office, the regional government, the metropolitan area, and the Barranquilla Chamber of Commerce. 
The idea is for ProBarranquilla to help bring in new and different businesses that help develop the region in many ways. Not only does more investment mean more jobs, it also means that people will become more professional and will have greater and better training in different skills that apply to particular areas. “This means we contribute to the general investment environment in the city and that we also help our people by identifying the needs of the new companies and setting up training projects specifically directed at meeting those needs,” explains Mrs. Badel. 
In the process of helping investors settle in and make the best decisions suited to their businesses, ProBarranquilla helps with general information, contacts, connections and all the necessary tools. “The information we give investors is particularly suited to their needs, depending on the field they are getting into or the type of project they are commencing. We have a database with information on many subjects and, in the rare case that we don’t have what the investor needs, we make the necessary contacts so that he can acquire it,” says Mrs. Badel about their work process. 
Thanks to the company’s experience, it already knows what investors of each area usually need or require to settle in, and that makes the process much more efficient. ProBarranquilla also has very well prepared multilingual advisers divided by sectors, which means each of them is an expert in the subject or area they handle, and this too is a great benefit for investors. 
Barranquilla is a city on Colombia’s coast, but it isn’t just any coastal city. It is located exactly at the point where the country’s main waterway, the Magdalena River, and the Caribbean Sea coincide, making it the perfect point of entry into the country. In Colombia, Barranquilla is known as the free trade agreement capital and this year it made the FDi Intelligence’s list of cities that are implementing the best strategies to increase foreign investment. 
“There is trust in our institutions, and political and judicial security, along with a sustained economic growth that makes the region more competitive,” explains Mrs. Badel, a believer in the city’s possibilities.