The Sunnyvale, California-based Motif is one of a growing cadre of foreign companies setting up shop in Costa Rica. Now with 185 employees, up from an initial 100 in late January, the company projects growing to 500 employees by 2012, said Andrea Centeno, communications director at the Costa Rican Investment Board (CINDE).
This week marked the inauguration of Motif’s renovated 2,200-square-meter building in the America Free Zone in Heredia, north of San José. It joins Hewlett-Packard, StarTek and others at the facility near the Real Cariari shopping mall. Described on its website as “a business process outsourcing company serving Fortune 500 clients,” Motif’s Costa Rica office will provide telephone and e-mail services in both English and Spanish to clients of a prominent U.S. travel agency.
Costa Rica has benefited from its position as what Centeno calls an “efficient, or cost-effective, destination for foreign direct investment primarily in the areas of services (call center-type operations), advanced manufacturing (including microprocessors, automotive parts and aeronautics, among others), and medical device manufacturing.” While these three areas are all “very dynamic sectors of the economy,” Centeno described the service sector’s 2,800 percent increase in jobs over the past nine years as “wild.”
Costa Rica excels at providing attractively priced, highly trained workers, a growing number of whom have enough mastery of English to provide customer services to U.S.-based businesses via phone and e-mail. While countries like Chile attract natural resource-oriented investment due to their mineral riches, and others attract foreign investment for access to their markets, Costa Rica’s competitive edge lies in its human capital, said Centeno.