Building Bridges with Guatemala, CA

A recent trade mission from the City of Houston to Guatemala was hosted by Heidi Powell-Prera, founder and director of Global Vision Travel and Investments. A group of 10 delegates, including Edward Pollard, Councilman for District J, spent 5 days from April 17th through April 22nd. The goal from the outset was to strengthen the relationship between Guatemala and Houston, improve trade and boost the economy. By improving connections economically and culturally, Houston can contribute to the future of Guatemala and build bridges between us and our neighbor to the South.

Members of the Delegation were:
Edward Pollard, City of Houston Council Member District J
Paul H. Young, Chief of Staff for Council Member Edward Pollard
Heidi Powell-Prera, Founder/CEO, Global Vision Contemporary
Miriam Alexandra Bracey, Owner/CEO, Transformative Culture
Kristal Casey, Founder/CEO, Unicorn Service Solutions, LLC
Enrique del Cid, Owner/CEO, Reliable Signals & Lighting
Dr. Te’lila Robinson, Full Circle Chiropractic and Wellness
Kay Shepard, CEO, The Shepard Connection
Jose S. Lopez, Attorney
Kimberly Bruno, Immigration Attorney

Ms, Wendy Mena, Manager of Invest Guatemala, was a tireless host who arranged meetings with government officials and business leaders.

The delegation was met at the airport by a representative from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was escorted to the Hotel Barcelo located near the Zona Viva, financial center for Guatemala City.

Under the careful guidance of Ms. Wendy Mena, presentations began at the offices of AGEXPORT in Zone 13. The Vice Minister of Investment and Competitiveness, Antonio  Romero, was the first official to address the group and share details about Guatemala’s plan to grow and expand through foreign investment.

His presentation was followed by Francis Garnica, Director the National Competitiveness Program; Jennifer Lobos, Investment Promotion Advisor from PRONACOM; and a representative of the Ministry of the Economy.

The Executive Director, Juan Carlos Zapata, of FUNDESA, was among the first of several leaders to address the delegates. FUNDESA is the company that is spearheading “Guatemala Moving Forward”, a movement that  has become a comprehensive national strategy to reactivate and accelerate economic growth and the generation of opportunities. Together with Jorge Benavides, Director of “Guatemala Moving Forward.” They outlined the programs being put in place to revitalize the economy.

From these official leaders, it was apparent that Guatemala is a key area for those seeking investment opportunities and wanting more import/export opportunities. The country is open to foreign businesses and foreign ownership and is offering tax incentives and advisors to make the process of establishing a business in Guatemala smooth.

Key to Guatemala’s growth and development is its many assets including its strategic location, a low cost workforce, and bilateral agreements that are already in place. Key among the industries that contribute to the economy is tourism. Making it attractive as a vacation spot are: delightful climate, historical destinations, cultural attractions, varieties of food and gastronomic delights. INGUAT, the Guatemalan Tourism Institute spoke about all the ways that tourists can enjoy themselves and be treated extremely well at the same time in the city and countryside. The tourism industry is also open to foreign ownership and investment and presents many lucrative opportunities.

Viceminister of Foreign Affairs, Julio Orozco, welcomed the delegates to his office in the historical center of Guatemala City, near the National Palace, and the delegates were also greeted by Alexandra Gallio, Council Person for the City of Guatemala.

After two full productive days of official meetings in the capital, the highlight of the trip for the delegates was the colonial city of Antigua, the original capital of Guatemala. set in the highlands with awe inspiring views of volcanoes and colonial buildings, some restored and still in use. Victor Murillo and his wife Delia, were attentive hosts and took charge of transporting the delegates to all the places they needed to go throughout the trip. Delia, who was a driver for the group, was also a very knowledgeable guide. She stayed with the delegates providing all the historical details and cultural information about the city, the history, the art, and more.

Prior to arriving in Guatemala, Ms. Powell-Prera had been able to make contact with and build a relationship with a master artist, Lorenzo Cruz, a Guatemalan-Maya artist. His works have been shown in five different countries. He still lives in Pueblo la Laguna on the famous Lake Atitlan, formed by a volcano centuries ago. Accompanied by Alex Bracey, a curator and anthropologist, Delia took them to the artist’s studio. The wonderfully detailed pieces depicting the natural beauty of Guatemala and the modern Mayan women will be made available in Global Vision Contemporary Fine Art Gallery at a private showing to be arranged for later this year. Two of his pieces can be seen now at Global Vision Contemporary Fine Art Gallery.

Guatemala was warm and welcoming to Councilman Pollard and Ms Powell-Prera, and it was a consensus that the mission was a success, both for Houston’s business leaders and for future relations with Guatemala.

This mission was the first of other trade missions to Central and South America. The next trade mission is scheduled for Panama City, Panama, July 10-14, 2024.

For more information, contact
Heidi PP, Editor in Chief iF Magazine
Latin Chair HITDC
Founder Global Vision Contemporary
(713) 927-9038 cell

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