Tamana InTech Park opened in 2014 and now another major development is adding even more choice for companies that want to set up an office in Trinidad and Tobago.
Technology clusters have proven successful all across the globe. From the renowned Research Triangle in North Carolina to one-north in Singapore, there seems to be no limit to what companies can accomplish when grouped together in a place ready made for them to flourish.
Pure business clusters also continue to grow in popularity. Municipalities the world over are realizing that they can lure firms by cultivating an environment that blends pro-business benefits, high-level infrastructure, and government support.
Trinidad and Tobago got in the game in June 2014, opening a top-tier office park that has aimed to attract companies in the IT sector. Tamana InTech Park offers nearly two dozen lots for lease across 1,100 acres, including a four-story office complex that can supply tenants with state-of-the-art facilities and all the other needs of a modern organization. It even offers energy-efficient lighting and air-conditioning with promises of “unparalleled energy cost savings.”
iQor is one company that has made a home there. This business process outsourcing (BPO) firm, which is headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida, has a 300-seat office in Tamana that could expand to accommodate as many as 750 workers. Gary Praznik, the company’s executive vice president of customer contact solutions, saw the establishment of Tamana as a big step forward for transforming Trinidad and Tobago into a location suited for company’s like iQor.
“Trinidad and Tobago is the perfect place to expand our nearshore footprint,” said Praznik when opening iQor’s new office last year. “With its investment in infrastructure, highly educated English-speaking workforce, and ease of travel from the U.S., Trinidad has terrific potential as a source of customer service talent.”
Building Brentwood Town Centre
Tamana InTech Park now has some competition. The newest location for businesses to set up shop is Brentwood Town Centre, a major undertaking of the Port of Spain-based development company Caribbean Housing Limited. With 500 acres of land in Chaguanas, this privately funded development is the second largest in Trinidad and Tobago and first broke ground in 1968.
The slow growth strategy has adapted to the changing needs on the islands over time, with the final form bringing office buildings, apartments, shopping centers, and restaurants, among other components. “We are about 70% completed, and we have about 10 more years to go,” said Dr. Krishna Bahadoorsingh, owner of Caribbean Housing Limited.
This mixed-use residential and commercial development is located on the major Solomon Hochoy Highway that connects the capital city of Port of Spain in the northwest to San Fernando, another city in the south of the island. The location — about 25 minutes from the capital and 20 minutes from the airport without traffic — is one of the biggest selling points for companies looking for a new place to call home.
Nearly three acres close to the area gas station has been set aside for office buildings. The lots are easily accessible from the main road and ready for the installation of water, electricity, phones, high-speed connectivity, and all the other features that today’s companies demand.
There is room in Brentwood to build some 400,000 square feet of offices and warehouse space. The future tenant of the flagship building speaks to just how appealing the new development is.
Caribbean Housing Limited will be moving into this A-class office as soon as it’s completed. With the construction 98% of the way there, the move-in date won’t be far off now. “This company is going to occupy a major part of that building,” said Dr. Bahadoorsingh.
The company will then rent out the remaining 35,000 square feet, which is ready-made for firms that specialize in back-office work. With other buildings set to be erected as soon as more companies come calling, this first new firm will serve as something of a proof of concept.
All the stakeholders in the development believe it has great potential to entice BPO, IT service providers, and finance and accounting outsourcers to set up shop in Brentwood. Its geography and local amenities make it a logical choice. So after the first one moves in, Caribbean Housing Limited hopes it will serve as an example to others that will follow suit and bring their operations to the remaining 400,000 available square-feet.
“We can start construction as soon as we see that there is a market,” said Dr. Bahadoorsingh. “We can put in anything you want there in terms of amenities. We can build to suit. We are flexible in terms of what we can put into the building.”
Continual Expansion: Getting Bigger and Better
This isn’t just a plot of land. Everything else needed to attract employees is already here in Brentwood Town Centre. “We have other components that could be far superior to just a private piece of land in some remote location,” said Dr. Bahadoorsingh. “This is an integrated development where would have shopping, you would have housing, you have a gas station, and other professional offices. It’s part of a town center. So I think we have an advantage in that regard.”
The first family restaurant, a Chuck E. Cheese’s, is already in place, as is the gas station and convenience store. A coffee shop will be included within the office that Caribbean Housing Limited will occupy. And the larger shopping center is set to break ground in a matter of months.
For housing, the town center will include luxury town houses where executives and directors can live. Not far away, there will also be housing suited for employees who can walk to work. “It is horizontally and vertically integrated in that respect,” said Dr. Bahadoorsingh.
This was the original concept. When Dr. Bahadoorsingh and his father first conceived of the idea for this development in the 1960s, residential lots comprised the entirety of the plan. But that has shifted over time as the needs and demands of the local society and business world have diversified.
In the interim, other major projects have been designed and completed. Dr. Bahadoorsingh says that Caribbean Housing Limited has built more houses in Trinidad and Tobago than all but one other company, and it is well known for developing a major shopping center, which it eventually sold in 1986.
“I’m the second generation,” said Dr. Bahadoorsingh. “My son who is sitting at a desk here is the third generation. And his children will be the fourth generation. The process continues. It’s in our genetics. We have been developers for quite a long time.”
The Benefits of Choice
Companies that want first-class office space in Trinidad and Tobago now have two clusters to choose from. Each has similar benefits, with the biggest differentiator being location. Brentwood is centrally located, in between Port of Spain and San Fernando, while Tamana InTech Park is in the northeast of the island closer to the airport.
The geographic appeal of each will differ depending upon the tenant. But both have one thing in common: affordability. The rent in both Brentwood and Tamana will generally be much cheaper than comparable space within the capital.
The general appeal of the clustered business model is also undeniable. Tamana, with its longer history, has already integrated with the University of Trinidad and Tobago. With ties to that institution, companies setting up operations in the park will have an established pipeline of young trainees and staff to leverage.
Combined, the two options now make the country even more desirable. The opening of Tamana InTech Park in 2014 got the ball rolling. And now officials in Port of Spain are hoping that Brentwood can take things to an even higher level.