Cincinnati, OH

Cincinnati is part of the state of Ohio, U.S. Nevertheless, the larger Cincinnati metropolitan Area extends into counties within Kentucky and Indiana as well. It houses several large corporations and manufacturing facilities. Cincinnati is very well connected through a series of highways making inflow and outflow of passenger and goods very convenient. Cincinnati ranks as the 29th metropolitan economy in the US. Its growth relies on the management, business and finance sectors; as well as manufacturing and marketing. In addition, the city has an important international trade (around $6.7 billion in sales outside US) and a high amount of foreign investment, which include several foreign owned companies relocating into the city. Located on the mid-west facilitates the connection of businesses with both the east and west states. This provides an important advantage to the city, which could enable the increase of service providers that could handle business coast to coast from a well-positioned central location. This growth requires a specialized work force and base infrastructure in order to allow competitiveness. To the city’s advantage, the university provides an important amount of the skilled workforce required in the market place. It is also the number one employment provider for the city as well as a development center. Nearby urban centers are tough competitors for Cincinnati, cities like Chicago and Minneapolis-St. Paul are positioned as more appealing than Cincinnati. Nevertheless, improving the cities macroeconomics and continued attraction of businesses and foreign investment behind incentive programs can position Cincinnati ahead of rival cities and propel its expansion.

Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City is one of the most important economic hubs in Latin America. The city proper (Federal District) produces 21.8% of the country’s gross domestic product. According to a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Mexico City had a GDP of $390 billion, ranking as the eighth richest city in the world after the greater areas of Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Paris, London and Osaka/Kobe, and the richest in the whole of Latin America, as measured by the GDP of the entire Metropolitan area. making Mexico City alone the 30th largest economy in the world. Mexico City is the greatest contributor to the country’s industrial GDP (15.8%) and also the greatest contributor to the country’s GDP in the service sector (25.3%). Due to the limited non-urbanized space at the south – most of which is protected through environmental laws – the contribution of the Federal District in agriculture is the smallest of all federal entities in the country. Mexico City has one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and its GDP is set to double. Mexico City has an HDI index of 0.915 identical to that of the Republic of Korea. The level of household expenditure in Mexico City is close to that of an average household in Germany or Japan. The top twelve percent of GDP per capita holders in the city had a mean disposable income of US $98,517. The high spending power of Mexico City inhabitants makes the city attractive for companies offering prestige and luxury goods

Panama City, Panama

Panama has been granted with a privileged geography and location. Historically, Panama has been dependent of world economy and trade. Another important factor is that Panama is a dollarized economy with low inflation rates which provides investment security to investors. The economy is mainly driven by service industries, including the Panama Canal, Free trade zones, financial and medical services. Due to the Panama Channel, logistics operators industry has flourished. Vessel traffic has increased exponentially even beyond the original construction estimates. With increased pressure on reducing transportation cost of goods, the Panama Canal expansion project is already in progress, which will enable larger than Panamax vessels to travel through the channel. Neighboring countries are looking into getting a slice of profit by connecting both oceans. Both Nicaragua (canal) and Colombia (rail link) have been exploring options to drive traffic through their borders. While this remains as an important threat, Panama has been preparing itself getting ahead of the game. In addition, the economic stability, sustained city growth and stricter controls on the financial service sectors have helped Panama to attract foreign investment into the country, allowing GDP growth or even stability during global turmoil. Internally, infrastructure growth investment in roads and transportation is still an opportunity. This will require further attention as it could stagnate the potential economic growth of the city. A collapse in the internal flow of goods and people would quickly impact transportation costs and reduce economic competitiveness. Another opportunity area is education. As the city has grown, demand of skilled workers has significantly increased making it hard for companies to find local talent. This will be an important area to address in order to remain competitive in the future.

San Jose, Costa Rica

San Jose is the capital city of Costa Rica and center of political and economic activity of the country. It is also the main transportation hub and center of the largest working area of the country. The country has been very active attracting foreign investment behind tax incentives, high levels of education, a very good base of skilled workers and a great climate. Economy is driven by the services industry financial and call centers, as well as pharmaceutical, ecotourism and crops (coffee, banana, pineapple). The country is also known for supporting environmental policies focused on sustainability. While not official, the economy is partially dollarized, being a common practice to be charged either in Colones or US dollars, which leads to a confusing market dynamic of speculation. With a well-thought long term growth plan, the country could become one of the most competitive centers in Central America for services and/or flow of goods within the Americas and across continents. Costa Rica has a privileged location and an excellent educational system that ensures availability of talented workers for all types of tasks. On the flip side, the city still lacks investment in infrastructure and maintenance. In addition, the country has been losing competitiveness, especially with neighboring Panama, with increased cost of living indexes and excessive commute times. Ensuring a long term growth master plan is crucial to unleash the country’s potential. An important portion of the transportation extra costs are behind the poor quality and availability of roads; while the workforce spends a significant amount of time commuting which adds up to an significant amount of idle work force reducing overall productivity.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan is the capital city of Puerto Rico. Located in the Caribbean, the country has been able to prosper behind its political status highly dependent on US support. The economy is fully dollarized and is based on manufacturing (mainly pharmaceutical) and services (financial and insurance). The country as a whole has been struggling to attract foreign investment. Since the expiration of the tax exemption (section 936), where companies were exempted of federal tax on corporate income, the island has become less attractive for the industry in general. Another deterring aspect is the fact that US regulations are enforced and there is a high cost for doing business. Cost of living is also higher than the average in the US and Latin America. This discourages foreign countries or investors to place an operation on the island. Future perspective growth is at risk as the island is currently unable to self-sustain. The country is completely dependent on imports of food, oil, chemicals, machinery and equipment. Puerto Rico must undergo a strict and well thought vision change in order to maintain its current privileged status. Given the scarcity of natural resources, a look into service oriented industries; IT, software development, banking and insurance, or becoming the Caribbean transportation hub could enable economic growth continuity versus its current US dependence which is being reduced year after year. Logistics management is central to the islands survival given the need of imported goods (food, chemicals, machinery, petroleum and clothing) and the necessity to make exported goods more competitive in order to maintain a positive surplus balance.