Expansion beyond national borders often means Miami base
Venezuelan conglomerate Cisneros Group's selection of South Florida
for its operating headquarters demonstrates a growing ongoing trend
where Latin American firms expand beyond national borders.
happens is you find some corporations that have reached a certain
level of sophistication and volume of operations," said Mario
Sacasa, vice president of international business development for the
Beacon Council. "Their next step is to go out and explore markets.
US market is very attractive to some companies from Latin America,"
Mr. Sacasa said. "This is part of this globalization process
that is going on that is basically erasing some boundaries and making
the world very small in relative terms."
March the Cisneros Group announced plans to run its worldwide operations
from a Coral Gables office. A subsidiary, Cisneros Television Group,
already was based in Miami Beach.
Sacasa said the Beacon Council is working with Cisneros on relocation
of some of the company's New York-based operations. The Cisneros Group
also is a partner with America Online on AOL Latin America.
anticipate that they are going to have, once they are ready to be
announced, a significant economic impact in our area," Mr. Sacasa
said the Beacon Council is also working with other companies from
Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina and Brazil interested in opening Miami
said Beacon Council representatives will attend the governor's trade
mission to Brazil in July, hoping to meet with prospective Brazilian
the past three years, Latin American firms moving to Miami included
a Peruvian transportation company, Bus 1, that located on LeJeune
USA, an Argentine distributor of hydraulic lift equipment, moved to
Miami-Dade County's northwest sector in 1998. Miami Depot, manufacturer
of polishing compounds, moved to the Kendall area from Venezuela.
Save the Children Foundation moved to the Miami Free Zone from El
and more, yes, I think there will be a trend of companies setting
up operations at different levels," Mr. Sacasa said. "Some
are just a few people. They coordinate all their purchases and all
their financial arrangements from here. Others are more aggressive
companies, he said, come to Miami to set up distribution channels
or manufacturing operations.
don't see this as a wave but as a medium- to long-term trend because
of the advantages that Miami offers multinational regional companies
in terms of the access to both markets, North America and South America,"
said Manuel Lasaga, president of Strat Info.
some of the regional companies begin to expand," Mr. Sacasa said,
"Miami can be viewed more as a neutral location in terms of a
regional headquarters rather than establishing the regional offices
in one of the countries themselves."
advantages as a regional center include transportation through both
airport and seaport connections, telecommunications and international
financial infrastructure, he said.
think that increasingly as you have other groups in Latin America
beginning to take on a hemispheric view in terms of their marketplace,
I think you're going to see more of them setting up shop in Miami,"
Mr. Lasaga said. "Setting up a regional headquarters here, basically
they are establishing themselves in the biggest market that they are
likely to have. This gives them a definite advantage in terms of distribution
of their products as well as being able to oversee the other markets
in Latin America.
hard for them to go beyond their borders residing mainly in their
own economy. Establishing a major regional presence in a place like
Miami gives them a better view of opportunities in other markets,"
are," said Manuel Mencia, senior vice president of international
trade for Enterprise Florida, "some significant companies from
Latin America that either made a decision or are seriously considering
establishing an operation here.
are sales, logistics and distribution operations. At least one is
a purchasing operation. I think this has been a growing trend through
a significant hub of Latin American multinationals that have some
sort of presence here, although oftentimes their presence is very
discreet," Mr. Mencia said.
governments and the press in Latin America tend to have a negative
view of companies leaving the country and taking away jobs, Mr. Mencia
said Latin American companies tend to avoid publicity when making
the past it has been frowned upon, so companies tend to be subtle
and oftentimes establish communication through a third party,"
Latin American companies are less likely to seek assistance from government
agencies such as Enterprise Florida or the Beacon Council, "it's
important to go to them, to go knocking on doors."
the growing trend, a corporate move by a company such as the Cisneros
Group is still a unique event, Mr. Mencia said. Even in the US domestic
market, he said, corporations rarely move their corporate headquarters
from one state to another.
said it's more common to see North American companies opening Latin
American headquarters or marketing and logistics operations in Miami.
very rare," Mr. Mencia said, "to see one company pick up
and move from one country to another."