Insight in the Minds of Spanish Business Owners
Alliance staff often takes trips abroad to engage with the business community and take the pulse of business leaders as they look to expand operations in the US. In 2013, these trips helped the Alliance build a connection with Spanish-based company, Cosentino North America. This relationship led to Cosentino selecting Hampton, Virginia for their new east coast location with an capital investment of $2.2 million
Cosentino, the largest manufacturer of natural quartz surfaces in the world, is well-known in the Spanish business community. Following their lead, more Spanish business owners are looking for investment opportunities on the east coast of North America.
In the first quarter of 2015, Spain’s economy grew at the fastest pace in seven years. Optimism is high and that means a renewed focus on the US market. We recently traveled to Spain and held conversations with business leaders about their plans for future growth.
Here’s what we learned:
- Spanish business owners see Hampton Roads’ strengths as a low cost of operation, logistics and skilled labor force. They view our weaknesses as not being a “well-known area” and the lack of an international airport.
- Leaders of average middle-sized Spanish companies are generally unaware of Hampton Roads. They are more familiar with Florida or New York because of a common language and past marketing efforts. Once they learn about our region, they recognize the potential of operating from the middle of the East Coast (ex: cost efficiency, logistics and serving the broader market).
- Often times, Spanish businesses realize Miami isn’t the best choice along the East Coast because:
- It’s geographically located too far south, which makes it hard for companies to reach the rest of the US consumers.
- Cost of doing business is high
- Traffic is bad
- Hampton Roads is attractive to Spanish businesses because of our port and the ability to export goods to the world.
- Spanish business owners we spoke with view Hampton Roads as a natural candidate for expansion in the nutraceutical industry (vitamins), due to the strength of existing food and beverage processing capabilities in the region.
- Spanish executives also like how Hampton Roads is the first region in Virginia to have an operational light rail system.
In the coming months, we will continue to share the sentiments of business owners in Europe and elsewhere.
It’s important to understand how the world views our region, and we’re excited to be able to deliver that information to our partners.