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Colombian Ambassador hopes to land more Cincinnati business

Colombian Ambassador to to the United States Luis Villegas is no stranger to Cincinnati. He lived here 38 years ago while an exchange student at Xavier University. Now the Ambassador is touring the country trying to drum up business for what he calls a "new Columbia," one largely free of the drug-running, crime-ridden country of the past.

Thursday, the ambassador was in Cincinnati; and in an interview with WVXU, Villegas said Columbia has the third biggest economy in Latin America behind Brazil and Mexico, one that is growing 5.5%. He also touted low inflation and low unemployment.

He was also was scheduled to meet with Convergys and General Cable in Cincinnati Thursday. On Friday,  he will meet with Procter & Gamble. All have operations in Colombia. Villegas hopes they will expand.

The focus now is on mid-size and smaller companies

"The most well-known companies here are present in Columbia,'' the ambassador said. "Now we are targeting the next ones, the next level. That would be manufacturing; that would be services."

He's looking for:

  • financial services
  • transportation
  • steel
  • agribusiness
  • manufacturing

Call centers and back-office technology is taking off in Colombia. Villegas says that market has grown from zero jobs five years ago to more than 200,000.
Frost Brown Todd is hosting a seminar Thursday on "How to do business with Colombia" with the Ambassador. The Cincinnati USA Hispanic Chamber will host him Thursday night.