08 Dec
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Piura-Maryland Sister State Mission 2017

Written by Marcie Castañeda, Business & Community Development Manager
Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development

I went to Piura, Peru representing the State of Maryland Sister State Commerce Committee hoping to establish a new benchmark for effectiveness.  This is a testament to the strength of my strategic focus on three key markets: The Environment, Agriculture, and Artisanal trade and their evolving network of key contacts in these markets based on the feedback received on this trip.

Partnerships are Imperative

We want to provide exposure to Peruvian small businesses to some of the principal players in Maryland. This would be similar to a business matchmaking program to mutually benefit small businesses in both states. A secondary objective is to give participants an up-close view of some of the logistics of doing business in Maryland by holding bi-annual B2B workshops with participants. We want to take advantage of the Zona Especial del Desarollo (ZED, Special Development Zone) in Paita, Piura’s port area. The incentive for businesses to establish in this special area is ZERO taxes*, similar to Maryland’s Enterprise Zone in Baltimore City with various tax incentives. *The only businesses excluded from this incentive in the ZED are Mining and Seafood companies.

Fruitful Meetings

Day one began with market briefings from officials of the Piura Region, and other private sector resources who generously shared insights and advice. This helped to emphasize the powerful arsenal of resources available to all Maryland companies exploring international business development opportunities in Piura.

The “meat of the matter” for this trip, however, was on Day two with a set of meetings among the members of the Chamber of Commerce of Piura and the representatives of the Chamber of Commerce of Sullana, another city within the Piura Region. The Chambers and their members expressed interest in the areas of the environment, agriculture, and artisanal trade. We also enjoyed a generous tour of Sullana, by the Vice President of the Sullana Chamber of Commerce, and met with the Association of Travel & Tourism of Piura.

These meetings were conducted in close partnership with DelfinoCo, a marketing strategy company in Maryland, and was designed in consultation with the Minister of Exterior Relations of Piura, Julio Cesar Cadenillas Lodoña;  the Regional Manager of International Relations for the Piura Region, Pilar Nuñez Tello; and a representative of the University of Piura, Giovanni Fiorentini. The State officials who were present and took the time to meet with us to discuss ideas for collaboration are very interested in this Sister State program and support it 100%.

Day three, I met with the General Secretary of Caritas del Peru, a non-profit organization that focuses on Housing, Education, and Health issues in low-income communities in Peru. They presented their housing initiative for the state of Piura and asked if I could incorporate it into the Sister State initiative. I believe community development is important and a driver for the commerce industry in Piura, and should be considered.

Measuring Success

The Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has expressed interest in a follow up trip to Piura. We will recruit companies to participate in this trade mission. Considerable resources – including a week of the CEOs time – are deployed to launch a trade mission.  We believe that this investment achieves the best return with a mission of this size. While it is never easy recruiting companies to trade missions, the larger the mission the more likely they are to invest the time. The elaborate logistical measures necessary for a mission of this design are also better rationalized by a larger mission.

Lessons Learned

Our objective going forward will be to collaborate as much as possible with Piura and other provincial trade departments.  The in-country resources that we met from the Region of Piura, for example, will help us ensure a well attended mission with broader national representation in the future.

Aside from some small logistical areas of improvement, I consider this first trip a success and a template for future mission design.  It validated our view that a more “activist” approach to trade missions – where Maryland companies are brought to meet companies in Piura or other potential partners/customers on their premises – nets a better result than focusing solely on B2B opportunities at trade shows.  We believe a combination of both styles provides optimum result and we will factor these approaches into future mission design.

We also believe that our overall international business development strategy, which focuses on the Maryland and Piura markets exclusively, will also bear results.  Our relationships with well-connected market experts will make an immeasurable contribution to the success of this mission.  These relationships will deepen and the network of contacts will grow with each return visit.  This allows us to grow the value that we can offer mission participants year over year.

Building on the Success in Piura

We are hopeful that we can now establish a model for our work in Piura to support and establish a Sister State brand for conducting effective trade missions in these three important markets.  Above all we are proud to collaborate with the Region of Piura in our Sister State Program and look forward to continuing to do so in the future with a formally signed agreement between both States.