What do you do when you inherit thousands of square meters all of a sudden? Panama has strugled with this idea for a while, when if finally got hold of the Canal Zone previously run by the United States. Several military bases along with infrastructure and services where handed over by the Torrijos- Carter Treaty in year 2000.
So what have they done with them? City of Knowledge (at Clayton base) has turned exactly into that: a technologic park with space for universities and innovation. And now, it is the turn for Howard airforce base.
The goal: to generate about fourty thousand jobs, build 20 thousand homes and about a million square meters (multiply by 11 to get ft2) of commercial space. Sounds crazy, but is already happening at Howard, one of the old US military bases that where transfered back to Panama in 2000.
The new buildings are hosting already important regional headquarters for companies such as Dell. A long term project run by Londong & Regional, will be developed through the next 40 years. Alreayd 18 companies have signed up to move into this “business city”. Caterpillar, 3M, 3PL Panamericana, Howard Kids Academy, IP leather, Magen David Academy, MEC Repairs, North American Aricraft Services Panama, River Latinoamerica Industrial, Technologic University of Panama, Radio Holland Group, Panama Aerospace Engineering, Accel, Cabo Drilling Corp, Giangranco Agency and Outsourcing S.A. among others, whose businesses run from education to airplaine and ship maintenance. “The facilities we are providing plus the tax incentives for exporting are attracting businesses as ours” said Marvin Castillo from MEC Repairs.
This year will be full of activities. They expect to have ready by August most of the storage space and for November all the office buildings. The estimated cost of the entire project is 705 million dollars from which a 100 will be executed this year. And all of this only 15 minutes away from Panama´s second touristic attraction: Casco Viejo. Suddenly, Panama´s old quarter will be positioned equidistant from “modern Panama City” and this upcoming multimillion international business park. For a world that is actively looking for places with good fundamentals to invest, this might be an important opportunity to think about.