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President Solís claims quick victory in first US tour

Luis Guillermo Solís kicked off his first trip to the United States as president of Costa Rica Monday by meeting with leaders of Silicon Valley in Palo Alto, California, and announcing one company’s intention to hire hundreds more Ticos.

“Costa Rica remains a solid country for investment and we want to take that to a new height,” Solís told business leaders and other guests during an event hosted by the World Affairs Council.

“I wanted to come to the United States as soon as I could to make it clear that not only Costa Rica continued to support foreign direct investment, and my government as well, but that the country kept the capacity to be a good focus for this investment to grow in the future,” Solís told the crowd.

The president said he hoped to dispel rumors that Intel nixed its manufacturing facility here because of a lack of confidence in Solís’ Citizen Action Party government. Solís stressed Costa Rica’s dedication to stable democracy, human rights and its investment in public education as some of its strongest selling points for investors.

Intel’s exports represented roughly 20 percent of Costa Rica’s total in 2013. The company announced that it would lay off some 1,500 employees as part of the downsizing. Solís said he hoped to meet with Intel’s leaders during his brief time in California, but there were no announcements about a possible expansion of the company’s presence in Costa Rica.

Solís was still able to claim a victory during his time in Palo Alto, announcing that VMware, a cloud computing and IT company, would hire hundreds more Ticos for its fast-growing operation here. VMware has grown exponentially in its brief time in Costa Rica. According to a statement from CINDE, the Tico agency tasked with promoting foreign investment, VMware started in Costa Rica with three employees in 2012 and plans to have 250 by the end of 2014. The company announced its rolls would reach 400 in 2015.

“The start of this trip to promote the country as an attractive destination for investment is already yielding encouraging results,” said Foreign Trade Minister Alexander Mora, according to a statement. “The rapid growth of VMware is a very positive signal that reaffirms the value that hi-tech businesses find in Costa Rica,” he added.

Solís left for New York on Tuesday, where he will stay until Thursday. He then will travel to Washington, D.C. The president is set to meet with more businesses during his time in the Big Apple, including Hewlett Packard.

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