Ground was broken by Grupo Karim’s on the Altia Smart City in Tegucigalpa, Honduras on Tuesday, and Nearshore Americas was on hand to be part of the festivities. The mixed-use development has already signed on StarTek, a U.S.-based BPO firm that has 12,000 employees in five countries, including 1,100 based at an existing Grupo Karim’s-developed facility in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. StarTek expects to substantially grow its base of 500 employees already in Tegucigalpa when the new facility opens, expected to be in 2016.
Innovative for anywhere, not just Honduras, the Smart City concept takes mixed-use real estate development to a new level by integrating next-generation sustainable infrastructure and utility services (renewable and redundant power, fault tolerant data connectivity, etc.) with a planned community that generally will include office and often, laboratory space for knowledge workers, an academic campus, lifestyle amenities for the tenant workforce, and often retail, hospitality, and public sector services as well. For example, in January, Courtyard by Marriott announced that it was to break ground for a new business hotel at Altia’s existing facility in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
A Major Tech Park
“I would like to share with you that Altia Smart City will employ eight to ten thousand workers and the investment will total 100 million dollars in the next years,” said Mohammad Yusuf Amdani, CEO of Grupo Karims, the developer of Altia Smart City. “The impact of those employees in Honduras will permit the solidification of a new industry that has come to the country: the professional services industry. We firmly believe in the capacity of Honduras to provide services at a global level.” Amdani added: “Large multinational enterprises that accompany us can testify that the human capital of Honduras is the most valuable resource here.”
The new facility in Tegucigalpa will host a technology park, the keystone of the development. The technology park offices are designed with an eye towards BPO and contact center tenants, though the space should be well suited to IT tenants additionally.
“The addition of another center in Honduras was driven by client demand,” said Chad Carlson, StarTek’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “The market in Tegucigalpa is great for our business with a highly educated labor pool. San Pedro Sula was our first center and also introduced our industry to the country. We anticipate Tegucigalpa to be another great location for us.”
Carlson explained at the groundbreaking ceremony, “We came here and saw the vision that Yusuf had in San Pedro Sula. At StarTek we believe very strongly that people do business with people they trust. Yusuf is a very compelling visionary with what he expected to do in San Pedro Sula, and we bought in, and Yusuf and Gustavo and the team delivered. So when the opportunity came as we grew too big for San Pedro Sula, they said ‘How about Tegucigalpa?’ and we said ‘Let’s go!’”
Opportunities for Students
Unitec University has announced a tenancy, and with a curriculum focused on English and information technology, both employee-tenants and student-employees can take advantage of the synergies presented by the close proximity and interaction between academia and the tech sector.
“We have exceptional youth,” said Unitec rector Luis Orlando Zelaya. We are proud to be part of Altria Smart City as an allied educational institution and strategic partner. We will create a positive synergy and send a message to the world that Honduras is different. Honduras isn’t the negative headlines, but it’s this. Honduras is different.”
“We have made a pact with five educational institutions to develop an English language training program so that in one year, someone with no English ability will be fluent enough in English to work in a call center,” said Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez at the groundbreaking ceremony. “The level of productivity of Hondurans is superior. We are a community that works.”
A lifestyle shopping center, Altara will be located on the site with planned food courts, fitness clubs, supermarkets, banks, etc., and a well equipped modern hospital, AltiaMedical Center, able to handle not just the needs of the onsite employees, but those of the larger Honduran community and even international patients and medical tourists. There will also be an integrated rest and recreation area, dubbed REC-Zen designed to provide balance and creative stimulation for all Smart City habitants, regardless of job function or title.
“Today we in Tegucigalpa Support this kind of development that betters the infrastructure of society, and of the city,” said Tegucigalpa Mayor Nasry Asfura. “We have a firm commitment with Grupo Karim to support this kind of development, completely friendly to the environment, which demonstrates a sustainable use of resources. We support the investors that come to better the life of our people.”
The first phase is the completion of the 130,000-square-foot office tower and the REC-Zen R&R facility. The complete project will cover almost 30 acres and is domestically funded and operated by Grupo Karim’s.