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Costa Rica to build its first industrial park for small- and medium-sized businesses

The Costa Rican Chamber of Industries (CICR) on Wednesday said that next year they will begin a preparatory stage for building an industrial park that will host only small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The Millennium Industrial Complex will house approximately 40 SMEs that have “export potential,” chamber president Enrique Egloff said.

The project is in a planning stage, and CICR experts are outlining logistics including financing strategies and a location.

“The exact site has not yet been defined, but it most likely will be somewhere west of the Greater Metropolitan Area,” Egloff said.

In coming weeks the CICR will disclose a list of requirements and procedures for businesses to apply for a spot in the park.

The industrial complex will be the first of its kind in Costa Rica and initially will be financed by a trust fund created by CICR associates, public banks and international cooperation organizations.

The CICR hopes the model can be replicated in other parts of the country. To do so, the chamber will solicit support from public agencies that are part of the government’s SMEs Support Network, including the Foreign Trade Ministry, the Science and Technology Ministry, the Foreign Trade Promotion Office, and the National Training Institute, among others.

International aid organizations and partner countries with which Costa Rica has bilateral cooperation agreements also will be invited to join the project.

The complex is expected to provide companies with infrastructure and “a number of technological platforms to supply all their logistics, financing, training, marketing, health and other services to facilitate their operations,” Egloff said.

The Economy Ministry in 2013 reported that 10,200 SMEs are officially registered in the country, and only 6 percent of them export products or services.

SMEs last year produced the equivalent of 33 percent of Costa Rica’s gross domestic product and provided some 30,000 jobs, the Economy Ministry study found.

Contact L. Arias at

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Ken Morris

I’d be interested in better understanding the rationale for this project.

As a rule, I oppose industrial parks, as well as other forms of planned segregated space. These make for lousy urban areas, and often aren’t even necessary. Market forces are usually plenty to persuade mutually-dependent businesses to locate in some proximity to one another, and this voluntary clustering usually produces a more vibrant urban area than a planned industrial park.

(Indeed, the very fact that these blights are called “parks” tells you that something is afoul.)

The question is therefore of what advantage is a planned industrial park? The advantage I fear is pooled business clout to garner subsidies and tax breaks, just like big businesses do, but this isn’t anything that is necessarily in the public interest, is it? I’m not sure that governments should be in the business of picking winners, and therefore creating losers.

On the flip side, I do strongly favor small and medium businesses, and believe that governments and other nongovernmental organizations do have to be proactive about nurturing these. These are often the stepchildren of the economy, and not treated as well as the big businesses. Banding together and pooling their clout can be a good thing for small and medium businesses, as well as for the rest of us.

I guess I’m stuck on both understanding the agenda of the banding together and why it has to be done in geographic space. Perhaps there are solid justifications for this, and if so I’d like to hear them. This article though doesn’t tell me enough to enable me to make up my mind, or dislodge my suspicion that industrial parks aren’t good things to build.

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