1 May 2017: The biggest and most successful free zone in Uruguay is going international, and its first step out of its hometown of Montevideo is Cali, Colombia. Zonamerica started building a new $300 million technological park that will house 18 state of the art office buildings in an area of 173,000 square meters with 4,300 parking spaces. Above all, project leaders highlight the area’s potential to generate up to 17,000 new jobs.
The project, which has been under negotiation since 2010, has already been approved by the Colombian authorities and construction started in Q2 of 2016. Zonamerica officials indicated the new area should become fully operational sometime during 2017. Cali’s new free zone will aim at turning the Colombian city into an exporting hub for all kinds of services. Most of all, officials believe the area will be ideal for call centres and business process outsourcing both for the internal and global market, including accounting, financing, technological maintenance, risk management, fiscal management, human resources management, and communication services, among others.
Influencing the choice of Cali as a host were the city’s strategic location, its university network, availability of trained human resources and its level of urban development, which guarantees that all the necessary resources for the free zone will be available. Zonamerica from Uruguay partnered with multinational Carvajal S.A. for its first international venture.
Founded by Uruguayan businessman Orlando Dovat in 1990, Zonamerica boasts a strong track record in the South America region. The zone has a 50-year concession for its 100,000 square meter operating area, 16 kilometres from the centre of Montevideo where it hosts over 300 companies and around 10,000 employees. The zone is particularly focused on logistics, global consultancy services, software development, biotechnology, call centres and financial services, a model likely to be mirrored in the Colombian venture. While most of the companies currently operating out of Zonamerica Uruguay are small and medium sized ventures, the area has managed to attract major international players in recent years, including Trafigura, PwC, Merck, Citibank, Deloitte or Sabre.