Monday, May 22, 2017

Adios Costa Rica:  5/22/17

Adios, Costa Rica!!!
This study abroad course was absolutely amazing!   I met lots of amazing people and learned lots of amazing things about business in Costa Rica.
The two most interesting facts learned are that there are major benefits available to companies that do business in Costa Rica and Costa Roca has an awesome country marketing program called Essential Costa Rica.
I highly encourage any business student interested in international business operations to take advantage of the #ULSTUDYABROAD program.
This program grants learning opportunities that simply aren't possible in a normal classroom setting.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Question of the Day:  5/19/17

Question of the day:

In two instances today we saw individuals working to preserve the original Costa Rican culture. (I.e, the indigenous woman selling decorative gourds and the learning farm growing white pineapples). Give three examples of louisiana businesses/organizations that are working to preserve our local culture. And how do these contribute to our state economy?

Today I visited a self sustained, organic, cultural education center called Arenal Vida Campesina in Jauuri, San Carlos.  

Arenal Vida Campesina lets you experience life in the Costa Rican countryside with a farming family that grow typical crops and are practicing newer sustainable agricultural techniques. The tour includes a demonstration of sugarcane juice production using a manually-operated sugar mill. We also toured cultivated sections of the farm and learned about common Costa Rican crops such as coffee, bananas, sugar cane, etc. At the end of the tour, we enjoyed a traditional snack.   

We have businesses and organizations in Louisiana that preserve our local culture similar to the way Arenal Vida Campesina works to preserve its local culture.   

One example of a business preserving local culture in Louisiana is Vermillionville in Lafayette, La. Vermilionville is a living history museum and folklife park that promotes and propagates the cultural resources of the Acadian, Native American, and Creole people. 

Another example of a business preserving local culture in our state is Miller's Zydeco Hall of Fame in Lawtell, La. Zydeco is a musical genre that evolved in southwest Louisiana by French Creole speakers which blends blues, rhythm and blues, and music indigenous to the Louisiana Creoles and the Native people of Louisiana. Miller's Zydeco Hall of Fame offers the opportunity to experience this cultural musical experience and it attracts visitors from many miles away.  

The Creole Heritage Folklife Center in Opelousas is another example of a business preserving the local culture. The Creole Heritage Folklife Center offers the public the opportunity to relive traditions of the African-American community. The center offers educational programs and events that focus on Creole heritage. 

Businesses that work to preserve culture contribute to the local economy by employing locals as well as by attracting tourism to the area. Employed locals are able to support their families while putting money directly back into the local economy. By attracting tourists to the area, these businesses contribute more money into the local economy.  


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Question of the Day: 5/18/17

How does the country's largest agricultural export fit into the overall country brand "Essential Costa Rica"?  Is this consistent with the model of sustainability?  Explain.  

Today we toured a pineapple plantation named Pina Albo in Pital, San Carlos. Pina Albo owns over 300 acres of pineapple farms and they purchase pineapples from other farmers to meet their orders. Pina Albo mainly ships pineapples to the United States and to Europe. 

The pineapple manufacturing process is Veey interesting!  The pineapples are first washed with diluted chlorine to kill any bacteria present. The pineapples are then sorted by size and quality. Some stems are removed during the sorting process depending on what the pineapples will be used for and what is its final destination. The cleaned and sorted pineapples are sprayed with a wax mixture to seal the cuts and prevent further damage to its outer shell and finally they are packaged for shipping. The packaged pineapples are maintained at a temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit until it reaches the customer.  

Pina Albo exports approximately 10 pallets of packaged pineapples per day for destinations across the US and Europe. 

Costa Rica prides itself on being the largest exporter of pineapples in the world. Pineapple exporting companies can participate in the country branding program to become even more essential and prideful of the ranking of Costa Rica pineapples.  

"Essential Costa Rica" can not only provide a stamp of the country's approval for the manufacturers but also a stamp of quality assurance for the customer. Pineapple manufacturers should seek to be a part of this elite country branding program because as their product is distributed across the globe, the "Essential Costa Rica" logo exposes everyone the product comes in contact with to the values of the great country of Costa Rica. It demonstrates the manufacturers commitment to the environment, ecosystem, etc. it demonstrates the fact that the manufacturer is committed to sustaining all of the country's core values.  

The customer should also insist on the "Essential Costa Rica" country brand. The brand (the logo) ensures the highest quality standards have been met along with other commitments outside of business such as giving back to local communities and environmental compliance.   

The manufacturing of pineapples directly supports the country's sustainability. Sustainability is supported by employing local residents and putting king net back into the local economies. Environmental practices in line with "Essential Costa Rica" requirements focus on ensuring sustainability of the eco system and ensuring protection of the environment.   

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Question of the Day: 5/17/17

How does the free zone fit into Costa rica's sustainable development? Use examples from today's company tours to support your answer.

Costa Rica's Free Trade Zone Regime is a set of incentives and benefits granted by the Costa Rican government to companies creating new businesses in Costa Rica. It offers tax incentives and benefits to the company in exchange for thenm creating business in the country.  This program has proven to be extremely beneficial to both the business and the country's sustainability goal. 

Today we visited several businesses in and around the San Jose area.  The businesses ranged from large multi million dollar firms to smaller locally owned and operated businesses.  All provide a similar value to the country - SUSTAINABILITY.

We visited a souvenir manufacturing company.  This company manufactures and sells souvenirs mainly made out of wood.  Much of he wood available for this production comes from deforestation efforts.  Deforestation has long been a huge problem in the country of Costa Rica but it is getting better.  The fact that most of the materials for this business comes from deforestation does not support the sustainability of the country. However, the business in general supports the sustainability of Costa Rica by providing employment opportunities for local workers.  When locals are employed they are able to support their families, afford education which can lead to future sustainable opportunities, and produce a product or service which could potentially promote the country to people outside of the country.  Simply keeping people employed plays a huge role in achieving sustainability. 

Another company we visited today was VMWare.   VMWare provides cloud and virtualization software and services that makes it possible to partition a single physical server into multiple virtual machines. We had the privilege of speaking to one of VMWare employees that described to us how wonderful it is to work with this company.  She was an amazing presenter and she reiterated to me that outstanding performance in any workplace starts with the heart.  People are the center of most businesses - whether it be employees or customers.  Connecting to people has to be genuine and sincere before any of the buainesss aspects can flourish.  VMWare supports sustainability by encouraging its employees to be better people.  Better people at work as well as outdid of work.   The cycle is carried down to our children and our children's children.  Thus creating a sustainable value and work ethic that the entire country can benefit from.   The presenter used an example of how she applies her work values (EPIC) to raising her daughter and she is certain that her daughter will grow up to give back to society  as she is being taught. 

The third business we visited today was Thomson Reuters.  This company is also a beneficiary of Costa Rica's Free Trade Zone Regime.  The business has a very minute footprint on the environment because they are an "information company". They sell knowledge.  The fact that their products and services do not harm the environment supports the country's sustainability effort.   Thomson Reuters promotes employee development by providing their employees the opportunity to learn a second language through a special employee program.  This opportunity directly adds to the sustainability of the business and he country as a whole.  If a person is bilingual, they are a more valuable asset and will likely instill the same values in their children witch will potentially keep the cycle going.  They discourage overtime work hours because that does not support a work / life balance for employees.  Another thing that Thomson Reuters does in support of sustainability efforts is offering transportation for their employees to the business district from residential areas.  This reduces their evrinmebtal footprint and supports sustainability of the country as well.  


Follow-up: Question of the Day: 5/16/17

Follow up to last night's blog....

I'm thinking more about branding the state of Louisiana.  A successful branding campaign such as "Passion of Louisiana" suggested in the previous post would also benefit our state by retaining attracting skilled millennials to live, work, build, and grow Louisiana.   We need new talent and fresh eyes in order to move our state  toward.  state branding could be a very effective tactic for retaining the intelligence feats at our local universities as well as attracting intelligence from surrounding states.  Supporting urbanization projects and embracing changes will move us forward.  For example, devoping the downtown Lafayette area.  Adding condo housing options and walking and biking capabilities to our transportation focus will greatly assist in retaining and attracting professionals to our area that could grow a city, a state, or even a country.  

Branding a state (or even a country) can change the position and competiveness.  It's important to get it right and be effective because the future depends on today.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Question of the Day: 5/16/17

Discuss the importance of a country brand in negotiating a trade agreement? If you were to develop a state brand for Louisiana, what would it be? Explain.

Today I learned about a central and unique marketing trend called "country branding".   This concept is new to me and extremely interesting.  Country branding is a powerful tool for positioning and competitiveness.  It is an effective way method of reaching stakeholders worldwide.    

Costa Rica adopted this new marketing trend approximately 3.5 years ago.  Costa Rica's country brand is "Essential Costa Rica".  It is a government sponsored program that enables Costa Rica to promote itself to the world.  It's used to promote exports, agricultural products, technological services, business investments, etc.   Costa Rica's country branding program involves application process in which businesses are considered based on their proven commitment to excellence, innovation, sustainability, country origin, and proven progress.  They are evaluated based on these 5 core values and granted licenses if they meet the standards or opportunities to improve if they do not.  

When negotiating a trade agreement whether it be for products or services, a country branding program is an important benefit to both the seller and the consumer.  The seller benefits from a country branding program by carrying the seal of approval or logo that ensures a high level of quality and the consumer benefits by knowing that any investment with the country brand is of top notch quality.  

The country brand plays a huge role in trade agreements because the brand directly defines the competitiveness and positioning of a business.  Businesses that do not qualify for the brand will not be as competitive and will not gain more marketplace as compared to one that carries the country brand.  

If I could create a similar campaign for the State of Louisiana it would be "Passion of Louisiana".   This state campaign would promote the pride and passion of our wonderful state.  I would implement a similar application system of evaluating core values and categorize businesses by the level of quality they portray.  

My state branding system would be first rolled out to the residents of the state of Louisiana.  Any gaps would be addressed and the system would need to work internally before I would attempt to roll it out to external stakeholders.  

"Passion of Louisiana" would include all of the successful attributes from our current state tourism campaign which is "Louisiana - Pick Your Passion". In addition to a focus on tourism,  "Passion of Louisiana" would also focus on promoting products and services created in the state.  

Ideally, a successful state branding campaign in Louisiana will set the pace and lead to a country branding for the United States.  

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Question of the Day:  5/14/17

Compare and contrast the business approaches of La Bella Tica Coffee and Monteverde Natural Cosmetics. Include a discussion of similarities and differences.

I had the privilege of visiting two very amazing local businesses in San Luis, Monteverde today and received an inside view of their similar yet different businesses.  We visited La Bella Tica Coffee and Monteverde Natural Cosmetics.  

La Bella Tica Coffee's farm is currently run by a widow who highly values her late husbands business customs and traditions.  Even the non-profitable parts of their business (like sugarcane) are still carried on in this family operation simply to maintain tradition.  Different family members operate different parts of this business to produce the final coffee product.  They support other local businesses in the area by purchasing recycled paper packaging materials to be used for packaging their final coffee product.   They also get their harvesting baskets which are used to gather the coffee berries from a local basket owner.  The sugar they produce is typically just enough for their family's consumption.  

Monteverde Natural Cosmetics is a family owned and operated business also, but they are a bit more commercialized.  They use advanced manufacturing equipment including custom setting boxes and cutters as well as large commercial mixers.  used for their operation as well as in their marketing and advertising.  Monteverde Natural Cosmetics produces natural, biodegradable cosmetics. They use social media to promote and sell their products and are currently in the process of expanding their product line to include shampoo and face scrub - along with other additional future products.  The owner values formal business practices and is a member of the local business organization where he values the connections he makes with other business owners.

La Bella Tica Coffee and Monteverde Natural Cosmetics are similar in many ways. They are both small, local family-owned businesses in Monteverde, Costa Rica. They both are committed to supporting other local businesses in the area which is pertinent to the sustainability of their business. 

The main difference between these two local businesses is their business plan.  La Bella Tica Coffee is content with their current business and is committed to keeping things the same whereas Monteverde Natural Cosmetics is aggressively seeking opportunities to grape and expand their business.