The history of a city can often be hugely influenced by the actions of a few people who undertake large deeds. Time and again, the story of many urban centers is told through the lens of the politicians and business entrepreneurs who helped create some of the most recognizable institutions of the area. These people are often celebrated not just for the institution itself, but the effect that it has on the inhabitants of the city in which it is housed. Such is the case for Roberto Santiago, the entrepreneur behind Manaira Shopping, one of the largest shopping centers in Brazil. By taking a closer look at the business owner, and the ways in which he helped change the fortunes of a small city, we can gain a deeper understanding of the influence of commerce and innovative thinking in the modern world.
City and its Evolution
To get an idea of the ways in which Santiago has contributed to progress in his community, it is informative to first take stock of the conditions that exist there now and how those conditions have changed over the years. Manaira Shopping is located in the city of João Pessoa, which is the political and economic capital of the Brazilian state of Paraíba. Though of moderate size, with a population of around 800,000, the city is the most populous urban center in its state and one of the largest in its region. The greater metropolitan area surrounding and including the city ranks as the 23rd most populous metropolitan area in the country.
The preceding look at the city as it currently stands is a result of many changes that have occurred over the years. For instance, at the time of the founding of the shopping center that has become a landmark in the city, its population was almost half that of what it is today. One of the main factors in population growth and demographic change for any city is the amount of economic opportunity that can be found within its limits. To simplify a complex idea, generally strong economies attract residents seeking work and prosperity while waning economies can prompt residents to leave an area in search of better prospects elsewhere.
One of the defining characteristics of João Pessoa before the creation of its well-known shopping center was the lack of large-scale commercial options in the city. At that time, residents seeking out many commercial goods and services had to travel to other municipalities such as Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo (Mundodomarketing). This may have acted as a serviceable option for shoppers who had the means for extensive travel or the prices that many of these larger cities commanded, but for the average citizen, the trip was often a burden that could be prohibitively costly.
For merchants as well, the lack of large retail options contributed to a difficulty of bringing their goods to market. Not only was there a lack of locations available to sell goods, but there was also a lack of economic incentive for shoppers to stay in the city. With a net flow of money to other areas that could provide more complete shopping experiences, many merchants found it difficult to keep their doors open for business.
Formulation of an Idea
Viewing the above difficulties and impediments on the local economy, Roberto Santiago saw an opportunity to bring a better commercial experience to the city. He reasoned that with a large shopping complex within the city limits, consumers would be more inclined to stay and take money that was earned in the city and put it back into the local economy. In that instance, local retailers would find a greater ability to engage in commerce and would, therefore, be able to sell more product and improve their own economic prospects.
With those thoughts in mind, the future Manaira Shopping owner would undertake to begin designing his creation. In this process he found the advice and wisdom of his father to be invaluable. The two would often debate details of the complex and how the venture would play out ahead of any formal construction progress. In part due to this rigorous analysis of the concept, and also due to a strong sense of leadership and oversight, construction on the complex progressed at an efficient and quick pace. With groundbreaking occurring in 1988, the complex was ready for its inaugural opening the following year.
Since its auspicious opening, the shopping complex has enjoyed continued success in the eyes of retailers and consumers alike. Due to the reception it has received, it has been able to expand precipitously over the years, now housing a variety of features that go above and beyond the initial concept that was put in place nearly thirty years ago.
Some of these features include an entertainment center where families can come and relax in order to take a break from shopping. The complex also holds a full-scale concert venue that has helped contribute a home to a variety of cultural and artistic events in the years since its opening. There are also a variety of dining options to be found on the grounds which allows for a group of visitors to all satisfy their individual tastes while still dining together. This overarching focus on catering to a large range of needs and desires has given the complex a standing that has progressed far past its initial vision. Not only has it become a pillar of the local economy, but it has also become an attraction for residents and visitors alike.
When examining the history of João Pessoa, we can see a steady rise in population and numerous economic indicators. There are of course a range of factors that contribute to these kinds of changes, and pointing to any one source as a single cause would be foolhardy. Yet it is still informative to hone in on individual causes where possible to better understand the ways in which urban centers can experience change. As can be seen above, the work undertaken by Roberto Santiago to create Manaira Shopping has been a key element in changing the landscape of its community over the years. For those interested in the ways in which urban centers can evolve over time, the preceding example can serve as an interesting case of study that can be applied to instances around the world.
More about Roberto Santiago at http://rsantiago.com.br/