Guest post by John C. Robak, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Greeley and Hansen 
ED Note: Greeley and Hansen is a global leader in developing innovative engineering, architecture, and management solutions for a wide array of complex water, wastewater, and water-related infrastructure challenges. The firm has built upon nearly 100 years of proven civil and environmental engineering experience in all phases of project development and implementation to become a premier provider of comprehensive services in the water and wastewater sectors.
I’m honored to represent Greeley and Hansen on this trade mission with Acting Secretary of Commerce Dr. Rebecca Blank to promote U.S. exports related to infrastructure in Latin America. While Greeley and Hansen has previously completed water infrastructure projects throughout the region, we’re looking at these high-growth areas as key markets for additional expansion of our business. Steve Knode, Deputy Senior Commercial Officer, and his team have done an outstanding job in bringing together world-class U.S. companies for this mission. Specifically for our firm, the local Commercial Officers have arranged meetings with many leading organizations to help connect our firm with high-level government officials and business leaders in our areas of interest.
I’ve participated in two previous Department of Commerce trade missions, including a mission to southern Africa last November, led by Under Secretary of Commerce Francisco Sánchez, which provided many valuable business contacts in South Africa and Zambia. To date, Greeley and Hansen has made several follow-up trips to Africa to meet with these contacts to further discuss specific potential business opportunities for our firm. We also are planning a follow-up visit to Egypt after a recent trade mission there. I’m certain that this mission to Latin America will be equally successful for establishing beneficial business leads.
Already, this mission has allowed us to make several key connections. For example, I’ve met with senior municipal utility leaders at SABESP, the Brazilian waste management company owned by São Paulo state ; along with other civil engineering firms in Brazil. Prior to the one-on-one meetings, the delegation has had several briefings led by Brian Brisson, Minister Counselor for Commercial Affairs (Brazil), Nathan Younge, Regional Director, Latin America for USTDA, along with an informative presentation from Brian O’Hanlon of OPIC. Further, the networking opportunities with Dr. Blank (who has been very accessible to the delegates for comments and questions) and Embassy and Commercial Services staff have provided invaluable information about the range of potential opportunities and barriers for any U.S. firm interested in doing business in the region.
In talking with these experts directly, I’ve been able to better assess the market for our services relative to the country’s planned development of water infrastructure. It’s clear that Brazil offers tremendous opportunities for U.S. businesses looking to expand internationally, and, as was stated during the briefings, it’s hard to think of a global company of the future that will not have a presence in Brazil.
I’m looking forward to the rest of the trip in Colombia and visiting Panama, as these other growing Latin American economies also represent tremendous potential export opportunities for U.S. companies directly involved in infrastructure. I’m confident that, for Greeley and Hansen, this Department of Commerce trade mission to Brazil, Colombia, and Panama will be fruitful for us and all involved.