Business Opportunity Is a Dutch Connection

by RaeAnne Marsh

NetherlandsFlagThere is significant business opportunity for Arizona companies with the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The most recent figures show Arizona exported more than $350 million to the Netherlands in 2013, and Dutch trade and investments here support more than 7,000 jobs in Arizona. Honorary Consul Siebe K.J. van der Zee, in the Phoenix office of the Consulate General, notes the Netherlands affords companies looking to increase their market to Europe an optimal location central to Europe’s three largest economies — Germany, the United Kingdom and France. The country, a little bigger than Maricopa County, serves as a gateway to Europe in another way as well: “Ninety-four percent of the people speak another language,” said Consul General Hugo G. von Meijenfeldt during a recent visit to Phoenix, crediting the country’s historical trading tradition. “You have to speak with the people you want to trade with.”

Scottsdale-based Global Dental Science, which uses a digital platform to make dentures, is a local company that established itself in the Netherlands in September 2013. “It has worked out very well,” says COO Barbara Thompson. “The business climate is very open to new technology, and our product is based on technology,” she says. “When we set up the structure of our new company, there was a lot of assistance and openness, helping us understand how to do business there.” The government offered incentives to do a study to determine the best way to structure the business. And the autonomous Employee Insurance Agency helped GDS implement employee laws and helped the labor market get training for new jobs. “We set up the training, and they offered incentives to help offset the early costs of the employees while they were being trained.”

Excellent infrastructure to move product encompasses physical — harbors, trains, airports and freeways — as well as the Internet. “All fiber networks enter Europe and the U.S. from Amsterdam,” van der Zee says.

Attracting business is a purposeful focus. “The Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency proactively looks for companies,” says Stans Kleijnen, director of the NFIA in San Francisco. The top sectors she names are high-tech, agriculture, water and life science.

And there is growing interest by Dutch companies in doing business in Arizona. “Traditional investment has been in the East Coast, but businesses are looking west to the West Coast, and it’s convenient to supply California from Arizona” — which has less bureaucracy and no earthquakes, says Honorary Consul von Meijenfeldt.

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