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From Handshakes to Helicopter Rides to Logistics Hub Ideas, a Business Trip Like No Other …

A week in the Dominican Republic – including a few hours in an associate’s helicopter – gave me even more insights into the country’s potential.

You read that right.

Steve Robinson and I lucked into a bird’s eye view of the remarkable country’s vibrant landscapes. Lush greenery. Turquoise waters. Bustling cityscapes. Majestic mountains.

I have spoken often about how the country has the location, land, labor and logistics potential to become a supply chain hub for the Western Hemisphere. But beyond logistics, tourism and agriculture, the Dominican Republic has mining and manufacturing.

That means the Dominican Republic can add value to manufactured goods on their way to their final destination.

The country is already more than a logistics hub and transshipment point.

A Typical Business Trip. Then…

Our adventure began like any other business trip. We had meetings, presentations and handshakes galore. Steve and I gave keynote speeches at the Dominican Republic Logistics Summit 2024.

President Luis Abinader also addressed the conference. He emphasized how his country must take advantage of this historic moment of transformation and opportunity.

“Global connectivity not only benefits our exporters and importers, but also attracts foreign investments, generating employment and promoting the development of industrial clusters,” Abinader told the audience.

All great stuff. But we did not expect what happened later.

A Spontaneous Offer for an Aerial Adventure

But on the last day, potential business partners wanted to add two trips not on our itinerary.

Steve and I said no way. Santo Domingo is on the south side of the island. The Manzanillo Port is up north. The Direct Energy plant somewhere in between.

The day did not have enough hours to drive around the island and make it back for our flight to the U.S.

So, one potential partner said, “Why don’t you take the president’s helicopter.”

I thought, “Of course. Why didn’t I think of that? I generally have a helicopter at my disposal in every country I visit!”

Flying High Reveals a Green Revolution in Agriculture

As we boarded the helicopter with our hearts racing and excitement building, we knew that this would be a journey like no other. The helicopter held five passengers: Me, Steve, pilot, copilot and a young lawyer who doubled as our translator.

We took off from Santo Domingo with a sense of exhilaration.

Once airborne and header north, we saw lush agricultural fields, towering mountain peaks and acres of agriculture. It was a sight to behold. We couldn’t help but marvel at the natural wonders of this breathtaking landscape.

Turns out, the Dominican Republic has four nearly parallel mountain ranges, including Pico Duarte, the Caribbean’s tallest mountain peak. We were told how the land between mountain ranges is ideal for crops because the mountains offer some protection from hurricanes.

So, even though tourism has made a remarkable and growing contribution to the Dominican Republic’s economy, we were struck by the importance of agriculture.

As we hovered above vast fields of plantains, mangoes, and avocados, Steve and I couldn’t help but marvel at the sheer scale of it all.

Did you know that the Dominican Republic ranks among the world’s top producers of papayas, avocados and plantains? Neither did I, until I saw it with my own eyes.

And let’s not forget about the organic revolution sweeping across the country. Farmers are tapping into the growing demand for organic bananas, cocoa, coffee and mangos.

It’s a deliciously green revolution, if you ask me.

And oh yeah, we got to visit the Manzanillo Port and tour the Direct Energy plant.

But even outside the magical chopper ride, Steve and I learned a lot about our host country.

Mining and Manufacturing Power an Industrial Renaissance

One Dominican company plans to start producing pure nickel for use in car batteries. This could tap into the growing electric vehicle market, as each Tesla battery needs about 50 kilograms of nickel.

Textiles, metals and their manufactures, plastics, agro-industrial products, pharmaceuticals, medical instruments and medical equipment power a growing industrial sector. Many of those companies operate in the Dominican’s 84 Free Trade Zones.

Clearly, the country has more to offer than tourism.

The Dominican Republic’s Unlimited Future in Supply Chain

As we touched down, Steve and I couldn’t help but feel gratitude for the chance to see the Dominican Republic from above.

We cannot wait to see what the future holds for this remarkable country. As Singapore is a supply chain hub for the East, the Dominican Republic can become a supply chain hub for the West.

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