Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Argentina Chile study tour day three

Tuesday March 16 2010

This morning was the academic high point of our visit in Argentina when we visited the Metro-politan Design Center. The Center acts as an incubator for dozens of startups; it also houses the Buenos Aires Fashion Bureau and a research center on design and innovation (which makes it a natural partner for NC State given our university's focus in these areas, especially in the Colleges of Design, Management and Textiles). The Center is housed in what was a seafood distribution facility in a marginal neighborhood, a mere 10 blocks from the largest shantytown in BA. Buenos Aires is one of the first four urban areas labelled as a design center by UNESCO, so the strategy is to leverage this advantage into company and job creation. (Other cities now include Berlin, Montreal, Kobe Japan, Nagoya Japan, and Shenzhen China.)

The students learned first hand from one of the companies how hard it is to get a business started in Argentina and how much harder it is to gain access to export markets. Pictured here is the owner of a slipper design and manufacturing company who sells her product in the chic Palermo neighborhood in BA (and would like to sell abroad).

In the afternoon we learned about Neoris (a spinoff of Cemex from Mexico) which is essentially the Accenture of Latin America. Neoris differentiates itself by focusing on IT deployment (versus IT strategy) and by locating offices in medium size cities that are ignored by the IBMs and Deloittes. Neoris finds Argentina an attractive market place because of the availability of skilled labor at relatively low cost, but it has concerns about political and economic stability -- a recurring theme of our visit.

In the evening most of the group headed for Cabana Las Lilas in the Puerto Madero district for one last beef throwdown.

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