In Cuba, Coloradans see business opportunities

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Photo: Havana, Cuba (AP Photo)
Classic American cars used as collective taxis drive along a street in Havana, Cuba, Friday, Jan. 16, 2015. Tens of thousands more American tourists are expected to flock this year to a country where some five-star hotels don't have working air-conditioning or hand towels.

As President Barack Obama removes Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, new opportunities for Colorado businesses may open there in areas like tourism, agriculture, banking, and technology.

Gil Cisneros, chairman and CEO of the Lakewood-based Chamber of the Americas, will be leading a group of Colorado business owners to Cuba in September.

He tells Ryan Warner the time is ripe to start making connections with the island nation, even though he expects trade rules to fluctuate for some time. Here are some highlights from their conversation:

On the business opportunities for Colorado firms:

"The conditions of some the buildings, the apartments, were not up to par. A lot of the people did not have money to go ahead and do the infrastructure. So I think it's a prime opportunity for people who are involved in low-income housing to go down and get contracts to build new homes, because they are badly needed."

On the business opportunities for Cuban firms:

"At this point we don't know what those businesses would be, but we certainly encourage it. We are a multi-lateral chamber of commerce, so we do not just take Colorado companies and go into Latin America to sell our goods there. We work with people from say Chile or Peru who want to sell their products here or do business in the United States."