From natural paradise to
space research center
The North Pacific of Costa Rica has positioned itself as a leading destination for tourism with access to beautiful beaches. But Liberia, Bagaces, Cañas, Carillo, Tilaran, La Cruz and its surroundings have also become a hub for diverse companies in food processing, aquaculture, agribusiness, services, research, clean technology and rocket propulsion.
- Transportation, logistics & services
- Food industry
- 204,591 population
- 63% under 35 years old
- 69,980 labor force
- 30% with high school education
- 10% with university education
About the region
Liberia is about 1 hour (48 miles) from the country’s northern border. It is also connected to the Caldera Port on the Pacific Ocean by the Inter-American Highway, about a 2.5-hour drive (88 miles, 141.6 km) and to San Jose, the country’s capital, which is 144 miles (232 km) away.
With Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, the second major airport in the country, this region offers over 120 weekly flights to cities like Toronto, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, New York, Newark, Charlotte and Boston among others. The presence of the country’s second largest airport, with this volume traffic as well as that of smaller local airlines and private flights, makes Libera an attractive site for MRO, FBO and other aviation-related activities.
The region is home to Earth University La Flor, one of only two campuses for the country’s well-known research-based college that offers students the ability to specialize in bioresearch in agriculture, as well as other technology operations. A University of Costa Rica branch, the innovative Invenio University in Tilaran and a new campus of Universidad Latina, one of the largest private universities in the country, located in state-of-the-art Solarium Industrial Park, together educate over 3,000 students in areas like business administration, engineering and more.
Houston-headquartered aerospace company Ad Astra Rocket bases its R&D facility in Liberia, where rocket propulsion technology is being developed, and where the company is currently researching clean hydrogen energy.
Though tourism is currently the largest driver of the region’s economy, encompassing the Four Seasons Resort, Andaz, and 2,775 five-star rooms and premium beach housing developments, it is now also home to many of the region’s senior-level managers, who also enjoy the area’s beauty.
The North Pacific of Costa Rica is surely a hub of opportunity for investors to capitalize on global trends taking place in some of the world’s most active industries, such as clean technology, manufacturing, aviation and food production.
Gildan Activeware Inc. was founded in Canada in 1984 by brothers Gregory and Glenn Chamandy.
The company is the leading supplier of quality branded basic family apparel, including T-shirts, fleece, sport shirts, underwear, socks, hosiery and shapewear. Over $2 billion in annual sales are reached by distributing its products in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America.
The business sells its products under a diversified portfolio of company-owned brands including the Gildan, Gold Toe and Anvil brands and brand extensions, Secret, Silks and Therapy Plus brands. It also has licenses for the Under Armour, Mossy Oak, and New Balance brands and produces for private labeling as well.
Gildan is vertically-integrated, executing production processes from knitting, dyeing, finishing, cutting and sewing; all under a strong commitment to quality which aims to provide top branded manufactured products at the lowest cost to its customers globally. Its large-scale facilities which are primarily located in Central America and the Caribbean Basin to efficiently service the replenishment needs of its customers in the printwear and retail markets.
In 2014, Gildan Activewear chose Guanacaste, in the Northern Pacific region of Costa Rica, to establish a knitting, dyeing and finishing fabric high-tech manufacturing facility.
The site is “strategically located for duty-free, quota-free access to US markets, and allows us to leverage our management infrastructure and expertise in Honduras, while at the same time obtaining a degree of geographical diversification” explains Gildan CFO Laurence Sellyn. Ease of entry into the US is via the DR-CAFTA free trade agreement. “In addition, this site is well located for our sewing operations in Nicaragua and has good access to ports for transportation to both the East and West Coast of the US”, he added.
Another plus that the company considered is that the amount of land acquired in Costa Rica, provides it with enough space to fit in three facilities the size of its most robust operations in Honduras.
Investments in the upstream yarn and fabric mills incur high capital costs and are very energy intensive compared with swing pants, and it is here that Costa Rica’s infrastructure, power and water availability gave it an edge, Gildan believes. In addition, the Costa Rican plant will be designed to achieve a 20% energy reduction target by implementing energy efficiency projects.
Gildan is committed to combine strong financial performance with best practices in corporate governance and social responsibility. It has been included in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for 2 consecutive years since 2013, thus becoming the only North American company in this select group under the textiles, apparel and luxury sector. Over 50% of the company’s energy is powered by renewable sources, among many other achievements.
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