Monterrey, Mexico has been described as the most Americanized city outside the US. The entrance to a major mall with signage in English.
It was an early morning for mission participants on October 8th as the 2014 Mexico Franchise Trade Mission headed north to Monterrey, which is even more familiar with US concepts than Mexico City. While briefing participants in Mexico City, IFA member Ferenz Feher, CEO of Feher & Feher said, “Monterrey is not only the most Americanized city in Mexico, it is the most Americanized city in the world outside of the US”. The state of Nuevo Leon, of which Monterrey is the capital compares favorably to Mexico City in terms of income levels, infrastructure and commercial real estate availability. The state has grown safer over the last 2 to 4 years, driving increased foreign direct investment. Nuevo Leon has the highest worker productivity in the country, is responsible for 11% of Mexico’s total manufacturing output and 8% of the country’s total GDP. Nuevo Leon is the #1 center for foreign direct investment in Mexico with 65% of trade between the US and Mexico passing through the state.
The stop in Monterrey began with a lunch and series of market briefings at the InterContinental Presidente Hotel. Initial remarks were made by John Howell, Commercial Consul from the US Consulate in Monterrey. The US Consulate in Nuevo Leon is one of the biggest US consulates and is the #1 originator of US tourist visas in the world. Also home to the #1 grossing Carl’s Jr. in the world, the city of Monterrey has the highest per capita GDP in Mexico- which is two times the national average. In the district of San Pedro, the per capita GDP of $37,000 is comparable to US levels. English is widely spoken and US culture is pervasive. John Howell joked, “When I ask a local which soccer team is their favorite, I often hear the name of an NFL team in response”.
Next, Armando De La Fuente from Alles Group, a real estate services firm briefed the group. De La Fuente gave a detailed overview of commercial real estate in Mexico’s second largest economy. Numerous mixed use developments have either recently opened or are under construction, all in the comparatively competitive range of $32-39 per sq. meter per year. He said that many downtown landowners do not want to sell to developers in anticipation of rising prices.
To conclude the briefings, Celina Villareal Cardenas, Undersecretary for Foreign Investment and International Trade for the State of Nuevo Leon and a colleague gave an in-depth report on the state’s economy. Kia has just committed to make an investment of over $1 billion USD to build an automotive manufacturing facility and over 600 Korean families are expected to relocate to Monterrey in the next 18 months.
Mission participants were transported through streets slowed by a visit from President Nieto to tour local malls and commercial areas. On the 9th, mission attendees spent full days in matchmaking meetings. Some attendees met as many as eight investors over the course of the day. Title Boxing Club scored the mission’s fastest success, signing a master franchise agreement with investors from the Yucatan Peninsula on the 8th. On the 9th, Title Boxing Club’s representative and their new licensees began meeting Monterrey investors to discuss subfranchising.
Anthony Padulo of BrightStar Care and translator prepare for meetings with Mexican investors
Ericka Garza of Boston’s ready to start business to business meetings with potential franchisees in Monterrey, Mexico