A low cost of living and advances in office technology have made the Caribbean an attractive place for U.S. companies to open “back office” operations, said Bernardo Vega, the Dominican Republic’s ambassador to the U.S. at a March 21 seminar at the JW Marriott at Lenox.

A back office may handle work that is done by clerical staff, such as accounting, bookkeeping and processing claims, the ambassador told attendees at the seminar presented by the Southern Center for International Studies.

“In the U.S., there is a trend to transfer those operations to a less costly area, like moving from Manhattan to New Jersey,” said Mr. Vega.  “With new computer technology, you can do that work from thousands of miles away,” he said.

As an example, he cited American Airlines  which routes calls to an 800 number through an operations center in his country.

But in addition to investment by large companies such as AMR Corp., which owns American,  the government also is looking for employees of smaller companies and professional firms who typically work out of home and communicate with an office via phone and computer to encourage them to move to the island, he added.

While generally upbeat about the country’s economic prospects, he expressed concern about political stability in the region, especially when the U.N. withdraws from Haiti this summer, leaving its neighbor without a cohesive police force.  “A Haiti with violence means trouble for the Dominican Republic,” he said.

For more information about the seminar, contact the Southern Center at (404) 261-5763.