Q: How are you ensuring Salvador is resilient for the future both in terms of the economy and the environment?
A: The city hall has set out an agenda for the economic activation of the city through 360 Salvador. This large program will invest 3bn reais ($720m) across eight axes and 360 initiatives, as a way to accelerate economic and social growth on both a micro and macro level.
I would like to highlight two of these axes. One is sustainability: we are trying to promote economic opportunities linked to the preservation of both the environment and the city. Many of these projects are directed towards intensive capital.
Another axis is to make Salvador a smart city. We have created a technology hub with many financial lines of support for start-ups in those hubs. There has been 100m reais ($24m) raised and earmarked specifically for investment into start-ups in Salvador. We have also reduced taxes for tech companies as a means of supporting their growth. [Finally] we have set up a creative economy hub, which has incentives and regulations specific to creative economy companies. We are opening some coworking spaces in the hub, where there are communal environments for people to collaborate and innovate, and there is a programme that promotes social entrepreneurship, to help solve some of the city’s problems.
Our focus is primarily on the promotion of local startups, but Salvador is always open to initiatives from around the world. Our idea is to amplify funds for the support of start-ups and investment, so as to increase the opportunity for local people. The key is that Salvador affords investors legal security, a good working environment and a tax differential system, which gives a broader horizon to companies than in other parts of Brazil.
Q. In which particular sectors are there the most exciting opportunities for foreign investors?
A: Tourism is undoubtedly the biggest sector, and has many opportunities for foreign investors. We are launching another tax incentive for new hotels, as well as for the renovation of old hotels, since there are huge opportunities in this space; there are already European hotel chains in Salvador that have had great success. We recently inaugurated a convention centre and will be doubling the size of our airport. Our aim is to promote Salvador as a destination outside Brazil to potential investors, but also as a place for both business and leisure tourism.
Another key sector is mobility, as we have had a fast expansion in our high-capacity rapid transit [transport] network. We have invested in the metro, Bus-Rapid Transit lines and monorail. Through these projects being planned and implemented by city hall they will open this space to foreign investment. There is no space [in the city of Salvador] for industrial growth and expansion, for instance industrial parks. We are instead focusing on the new economy, which is both the technology and service sector.
Q. Any closing thoughts on how you are pursuing the sustainable development goals?
A: The city has adopted very ambitious commitments. For instance, I have committed Salvador to be carbon-neutral by 2049, when the city will have its 500-year anniversary. Our recently launched resilience strategy, which is also outlined in the strategic plan, has very clear actions and goals with deadlines of when they need to be implemented and met. I can list dozens of examples of the city’s public policies to mitigate both the risk of climate change and work as climate change mitigation, and the focus is on the poorest areas, which is very important. One example is the renewal of the bus fleet to make it less polluting. However, this will require different business models and investment streams, and of course the involvement of society, the private and public sector.