The Florida-Colombia Connection
Holland & Knight – one of the many Florida companies eyeing opportunities in the Bogotá, Colombia – moved in eight months ago with growth in mind. It plans to expand from six attorneys to 25 in about a year. A decade ago, many American businesses wouldn’t have even thought about opening an office in a country then considered one of the world's most dangerous.
"You would never leave the office of the client without having a bodyguard with you – usually two of them – and a driver," said Colombia Practice Co-Chair Bob Grammig. "You couldn't go 10 kilometers outside the city of Bogotá or else you were looking for trouble." Today, Mr. Grammig describes Bogotá as a "normal city" where people walk the streets without bodyguards and use public transportation. Because of its proximity to Colombia, Florida is expected to benefit more than other U.S. states – exports to Colombia, Florida's No. 2 trade partner, are expected to increase by as much as $345 million over 2010 levels.
Colombia Practice Co-Chair Enrique Gómez-Pinzón moved back this year after a 14-year stint in Washington, D.C. "Nowadays, we can confidently state that the government is in charge," he says.