Why Not Nicaragua?
I just read an article in the NYT about how Applied Materials is moving their R and D facilities from Silicon Valley to China. The Article is generic enough to go on to talk about why as well as who. One of the driving factors is
Xi’an — a city about 600 miles southwest of Beijing known for the discovery nearby of 2,200-year-old terra cotta warriors — has 47 universities and other institutions of higher learning, churning out engineers with master’s degrees who can be hired for $730 a month.
Nicaragua clearly isn't China or even India as far as being in a position to take over some high tech work that is currently happening in the U.S. but it is more than just a place to open sweatshops. The best indication of that is that while some first worlders have moved here because their couldn't afford to live where they really wanted (including their home country), some are here because they actually like it here.
Just one reason one might want to live here is the weather. I can assure you that is one of the top things on my list. But, it is not the only thing. Let's leave the why list for another discussion and think a bit about what might be possible here. These are just random thoughts.
- In the energy sector, both wind and geothermal is being developed here. Why not create an environment for doing alternative energy research.
- Continuing with the energy sector, install and support in-home and in-business alternative energy systems.
- Crop research. Rather than the Monsanto-ish GMO crops, how about some real research into sustainable crops and sustainable farming techniques.
- Single-industry technology companies. I am thinking of equipment that would be used by companies throughout the region such as alarm systems, telephone systems and such. While production of the pieces would probably be done in China, Nicaragua would be the perfect place to do final assembly and support.
Some will immediately say that the needed skills are not here to do this research. In many cases that is true but it doesn't seem that hard to import those skills if you build the right environment for the people you need. And it sure would cost a lot less than doing it in the U.S.