Investors finding success in cities outside Bangkok

Thais may think that all roads lead to Bangkok, but domestic and foreign investors that have established businesses in Thai smart cities beyond Bangkok have been finding success and enjoying lower investment costs.

“Chiang Mai has the skilled workforce, international airport, and everything you need for your personal life,” said Anucha Meekiatichaikun. The Thailand-born, Paris-trained entrepreneur owns Hexa Ceram Dental Laboratory, which makes digital titanium implant bars and other prosthetic devices. His firm employs over 800 skilled Thai workers in the northern city.

But it’s not just Chiang Mai that is providing a platform for achievement. Other smart cities such as Khon Kaen in the northeast and Songkhla in the south have established the infrastructure, services, technology, and quality of life that appeal to investors. And more Thai cities are moving towards smart city status.

These cities feature universities and science parks that are hubs for talent and are also close to markets in China, Malaysia, Singapore, Viet Nam, and other countries.

The Bangkok Post wrote: “Driven by local entrepreneurs and academics, Khon Kaen is on its way to becoming the first genuinely smart city in regional Thailand, with 74 recognized projects using the Internet of Things to provide sustainable urban services. The most ambitious is a $500 million, 23-km light rail system. Construction is due to start next year, with completion set for 2022.”

Cho Thavee, a firm that manufactures smart vehicles and transport systems, has made Khon Kaen its home. Chief Executive Officer Suradech Taweesaengsakulthai said half the firm’s revenues come from exports. One of the most popular is a lift vehicle that loads food on to planes at airports.

Songkhla in the south is a center for the rubber and seafood processing industries, both of which rely on research taking place at its science park and Prince of Songkhla University.

Thai Union, the world’s largest tuna processing company with brands such as Chicken of the Sea and John West, has set up a manufacturing base in Songkhla.

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