– Medellín is one of the great urban turnaround stories. A city once synonymous with drug cartels and deadly violence has transformed itself into a thriving, innovative, and fast-growing metropolis. Since November, it is also home to our second office in Colombia, after Bogotà.
Medellín’s revitalization rests partly on 20 years of public–private cooperation on issues such as transportation, bilingual education, and affordable housing. One example: a network of cable cars and a giant outdoor escalator that connect residents in marginalized mountainsides to schools and jobs in the valley.
This type of civic innovation has drawn recognition internationally. Last year, Medellín won the biennial Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize, and Mayor Federico Gutiérrez Zuluaga in October accepted the Transformational City of the Year award at the annual BRAVO Business Awards.
“Colombia and its cities have shown the world that they are resilient,” says McKinsey partner and Colombian native Jaime Morales, who leads our work in the country. “Having a permanent base in Medellín will help us contribute to the next wave of growth and also tap into the local talent pool.”
Notable local universities include the School of Engineering of Antioquia and EAFIT University.
The team based in Medellín will draw on additional support not only from Bogotà but also from experts across our global firm. They will focus on issues related to the region’s revitalization, such as operations, growth, and sustainability. Among those on the ground is Doug Nagy, who grew up in Cleveland and worked in urban development before joining McKinsey. It’s a background that gives him a special appreciation for the city: “What Medellín has achieved in terms of public safety is just astonishing. Like Cleveland, it’s often been seen as an underdog city, so it’s an incredible time to be here.”
With a population of 2.5 million people, Medellín is actually larger than the Greater Cleveland area and boasts at least one other notable advantage: thanks to a year-round temperate climate, Medellín is known as “the city of eternal spring.”