Editor’s note: This is the first in a week-long series of notes and thoughts from the trade mission to Chile and Argentina organized by the Nashville Health Care Council and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. For background on the mission, click here for a Q&A from this week’s City Paper.
What better way to start an international trade mission to South America than to hear a perspective from Kathy Barclay, principal of Asesorías KCB Ltda. An American who has lived in Chile for 25 years and a former global execitive with JPMorgan Chase, she is an international strategic advisor focused on cross-border opportunities between Chile and the Americas, including the U.S.
She painted a picture of a Chilean economy that is flourishing after 30 years of sustained growth. The GDP has grown 216 percent since 1987 with the poverty level reduced to 15 percent. Why? According to Barclay, there is political and institutional stability. With the restoration of a democratic government in 1990, she described their effective executive, legislative and judicial branches as “stronger than the U.S.” And, its low corruption rate comes close to mirroring that of the U.S. A strong independent central bank, respected legal tradition, a transparent regulatory environment and “clear rules of the game” round out her reasons for U.S.-Chilean business partnerships.
“Chile has a deserved reputation for treating foreign investors fairly. That’s because they treat foreign investors the same as they do locals.” What is so special about Chile? She said the country has strong domestic financial markets, broad access to international markets, advanced telecommunications and IT infrastructure and a strong physical infrastructure.
We experienced that firsthand, coming in from the airport through a modern, four-mile, multi-lane tunnel under the river. With a strong workforce, high-quality professionals, strong national literacy rates and high ethical standards, it sounds almost like a business Utopia. But, Barclay did point out some challenges. While there is general prosperity, there is a disparity between the very wealthy and the very poor. Plus, the country is small and distant and vulnerable to commodity price fluctuations.
So what about health care opportunities? That is, after all, why we are here. Among them, Barclay said, is the need to rebuild hospitals destroyed or damaged by the recent earthquake. Delegate James Bearden, CEO of Gresham Smith & Partners, said that the competitive landscape she described may make it harder for U.S. companies seeking to compete for business here because they will be looking globally for partners.
“It’s a great opportunity for a group of U.S. companies to get together and demonstrate how to compete globally,” he said. Bearden said he was pleased to hear what an open business environment they have here. “I thought it would be harder. Between the number of U.S. companies already doing business here, the number of trade agreements between our two countries, the government’s desire to have more public-private partnerships, and the number of health care projects coming up that are tailored for American participation, it is very encouraging.”
Gresham, Smith and Partners, a leading national architecture, engineering, interior design and planning firm, is pleased to announce that it received an award from the Historical Commission of Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County for outstanding efforts toward the preservation of Davidson County's architectural heritage. The award recognizes design efforts related to MC3 at Martin Corner, phase three of a multi-phase East Nashville infill project being developed by Martin Corner GP. The award was announced at the 34th Annual Preservation Awards held on Thursday, May 21. MC3, which anchors the southeast corner of South 11th and Fatherland Street, is part of a masterplan for the Martin Corner area of east Nashville. Consisting of three buildings forming a private courtyard in the center, MC3 includes 20 residential condominium units. Exterior materials include dark brick, white metal, polished masonry units and translucent glass. MC3 is designed as a contemporary statement to harmonize with the mixed-use buildings from the early 20th century.