This content is from: Local Insights

Connecting the business and development dots in Panama

Cristina E Thayer
In early 1995, a non-profit organisation called The City of Knowledge Foundation was created to manage some areas to be reverted to Panamanian control located at a former military facility (Fort Clayton). The aim was to create a new cluster for research, knowledge exchange, innovation and sustainable development not only for the country, but for the region as well. In 1998, Executive Order number 6 brought the idea into fruition, providing for the assignment of the Fort Clayton land and infrastructure to the Foundation, and describing the terms, obligations and incentives for the execution of The City of Knowledge (TCK).

By eliminating the quantitative limitations established by the Labor Code and establishing special visas for researchers, professors and technical personnel, entities affiliated to TCK were allowed to hire foreign professionals as needed. Furthermore, tax incentives were granted to the Foundation and its affiliates whereby import and sales taxes were exempted for equipment, machinery, furniture or materials if necessary for the development of the project; and international transfers of funds were exempted from taxes when those transfers are made for the furtherance of the project's objectives.

While Executive Order number 6 is not new, the real effects are only now slowly becoming visible to the international business community, either because of the increasing interest in becoming affiliates, or due to the advantages that already affiliated institutions bring to them if they are to be established in the Republic of Panama, or even in the region.

Among the different kinds of TCK affiliates, the education cluster brings special added value to other business, inside or outside the area, by providing education with international standards at affordable costs. Affiliated education institutions such as Aden Business School, International Maritime University, The Panama International Hotel School and Florida State University have already opened their doors for students, and international programmes from McGill University, University of Pennsylvania, Saint Louis University, Iowa University, Tecnológico de Monterrey and INIDEM Business Law School, to name a few, are also part of the academic offering in TCK. Recently a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Foundation and Georgetown University to explore the possibility of the physical presence of that institution in TCK.

TCK is clearly becoming an educational hub that will increase human development, benefiting families, businesses and countries from the entire region.

Cristina E Thayer

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