ProBarranquilla, one of Colombia’s regional investment promotion agencies, claimed to have brought in investments worth more than US$1.3 billion over the past five years.

The investments have led to the creation of more than 16,000 jobs, local media El Heraldo reported citing Vicky Osorio, director of the agency.

ProBarranquilla said it has supported approximately 200 investment projects in the northern department of Atlantico, where Barranquilla is located. About 56% of these investments came from foreign countries, with the rest coming from different regions of Colombia.

Osorio said ProBarranquilla not only helps businesses set up shop in Barranquilla, but it will also support existing businesses in expanding their operations.

Most of these investments came from companies based in countries such as Chile, Peru and the United States, according to Aquiles Mercado, president of the agency.

“We not only compete with other cities in Colombia to attract businesses, but also with other countries in Latin America or the world, as investors seek the best destinations,” Mercado added.

Many BPO companies, such as Sitel and HGS, have expanded their operations to Barranquilla. The agency attributed the growth of the BPO sector to the “English for Work” program, designed to increase the number of bilinguals.