Above: Training for the Macedonian Technological Industrial Development Zones Authority (read more)

Locus Economica's consultants have decades of experience consulting on the legal, regulatory, and operational frameworks of some of the most successful special economic zones, free ports and enhanced industrial parks in the world. 

Locus Economica founder and CEO Jean-Paul Gauthier brings over two decades of legal and policy expertise in special economic zones (SEZs). Locus also draws from the experience of Chuck Heath, the former managing director of the Jebel Ali Free Zone; Santosh Hejmadi, the Director of Marketing for the Dubai Media City; Harold Godsoe, an international trade specialist; Jean Christophe Ngo, an expert in growth-pole regulatory frameworks; and Jonathan Smith, a management specialist.

Chuck HeathDirector (non-executive)

Mr. Heath, Locus Economica's resident SEZ operations specialist, has over three decades of experience in the development and operation of special economic zones and in tourism development.  From 1981 to 1986, he served as Director of the Port Authority of Jebel Ali, where he played a major role in creating and developing the Jebel Ali Free Zone, of which he was also Director. 

From 1990 to 1998 he was Director of the Dubai Commerce and Tourism Board in North America.  After these posts, he served as Director of Projects for Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing until 2001, where was responsible for the design and project management of the construction of the Dubai Cruise Terminal. He was subsequently Managing Director of JAFZA International until 2011. 

Most recently, Mr. Heath has acted as an international SEZ development advisor for the Ethiopian Industrial Parks Corporation, IFC, World Bank, Economic Zones World (EZW), DP World, JAFZA, the Republic of Senegal, and the Africa Free Zones Association (AFZA).  He has consulted on 13 international economic parks, managed 4 free zones, developed numerous special economic zones, and created the first Corporate Development Training program specializing in Free Zone Management and Operations.  He has also presented at numerous conferences, training events, and speaking engagements related to free zones.

After completing his maritime engineering studies, and prior to moving to Dubai, he spent his early career in the maritime industry, holding several senior management positions with Sealand, Farrell Lines, and Seatrain.

Santosh Hejmadi, Director

Mr. Hejmadi is an international expert in marketing, marketing communications, and management of support services to governments, multinationals, and market leaders. He has helped promote and create global brands for the Jebel Ali Free Zone, Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City, and Definitely Dubai (Dubai Tourism).  He also launched the world’s first industry cluster of free zones in the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone (TECOM), which consists of media, information technology, knowledge, outsourcing, biotechnology, film production, and energy industries.

Mr. Hejmadi has also worked on a range of other assignments relating to special economic zones and export processing zones, including scoping missions, investment barrier and feasibility studies, and branding and marketing strategies. He has been advising the World Bank and USAID since 2000 on SEZ projects in Botswana, Bangladesh, China, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and others. 

More broadly, Mr. Hejmadi has over 40 years’ experience working with the public and private sector, UN, and other multilateral agencies.  He currently runs his own marketing and management consultancy firm based in Europe that specializes in destination/place branding and marketing; investment promotion for countries, regions, cities, free zones, special economic zones, industry clusters, and industrial estates and projects; sales and marketing; and business development.

José Cerón, Senior Associate

Jose Ceron.JPG

Mr. José M. Cerón has over 30 years of international experience successfully leading, managing and delivering results oriented economic development projects in several countries, including Ethiopia, Jordan, Egypt and Mozambique. His management responsibilities have covered a broad range of economic growth activities, including in the special area of regulatory upgrading and reengineering with a view to increase country competitiveness while ensuring public good protection. 

Mr. Cerón was the Executive Director of the Dominican Republic’s National Council of Free Zones and also led the country’s Investment Promotion Center, and he was later the President of its national zone association. During his tenures, Dominican free zones experienced significant growth.

He has also practiced his thorough high competency in free zones development as the Executive Vice-President of the Grupo Financiero Nacional, a private free zone developer. He role included competitiveness strategy and implementation/development/ operating/promotion of free and special economic zones, business environment enhancement, investment promotion and investment attraction, trade and export development, economic diversification and expansion of SMEs. In achieving project goals, Mr. Cerón has built excellent working relationships with counterpart senior public officials as well as  major multinational companies such as General Electric, Sara Lee, American Airlines, BHP Billiton and Mitsubishi.

Mr. Cerón’s experience of having worked as a practitioner in zone development in both the public and private sectors provides him with an unique and valuable perspective in understanding both sectors’ sensitivities.

Kevin O’Connor, Senior Associate


Mr. O’Connor focuses on a range of Free Zone developments, enterprise, and investment promotion opportunities. He recently completed a long-term assignment as Managing Director of the Nahco Free Zone, the first airport-based Free Trade Zone to be developed in Nigeria, where he was responsible for all aspects of strategic promotion, management, investment, operations, future planning.

He has over 33 years experience with Shannon Development – Ireland’s premier regional economic development agency, who developed the world’s first Export Processing Zone at Shannon Airport on Ireland’s west coast. With Shannon Development, he gained experience working in the international consultancy projects in Russia, Africa, Eastern Europe, Baltic States, Jordan and the Balkans including long term assignments. He has worked on consulting and training for Free Zone projects in Croatia, Romania, Czech Republic, Nigeria, Ghana, Mauritius and Botswana.

His work with Shannon Development also involved a number of key management positions, including in zone development, as the zone’s marketing and promotions manager, one industry and enterprise, property, and FDI. He was investment promotions manager for Limerick county, during which he was responsible for the National Technology Park.

Harold Godsoe, Associate

Mr. Godsoe, Locus Economica's resident trade policy specialist, has worked on the judicial side of international arbitration under the CARICOM Agreement at the Caribbean Court of Justice, and served private sector clients in resolving cross-border business and regulatory policy cases as an associate at a prominent trade law boutique in Washington. He also worked as a Foreign Legal Specialist for the Public International Law and Policy Group while he pursued his LL.M. in trade law at American University, Washington College of Law in D.C. Harold lived in Japan from 2005 to 2010 where he began his international legal studies at the Tokyo campus of Temple University.

A published legal specialist in international trade policy and regulation, Mr. Godsoe was presented in 2014 with the Outstanding Graduate Award with his LL.M. from Washington College of Law, where he continues to serve as Professorial Lecturer to foreign LL.M. students in the International Legal Studies Program. He earned his J.D. from the University of Western Ontario, in Canada.

He joined Locus Economica in 2014, and has also assumed the duties of an officer of WEPZA, the world's first SEZ trade association. 

Jean-Paul Gauthier, Managing Director

Jean-Paul Gauthier is a native Canadian who currently lives in the UK after having worked for several top consulting firms, law firms, and international development organizations.  He is the world's leading legal expert on Special Economic Zones (SEZ), and has helped advise on or draft numerous laws, regulations, and policies for SEZ programs around the world. 

In addition to serving as Locus Economica's CEO, he is the current Secretary-General of WEPZA, the world's first SEZ trade association.  He also regularly consults with the World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) on SEZs.

Mr. Gauthier has over 25 years experience working in or with over 100 countries as an attorney and economist specializing in trade and investment, economic zones, competitiveness, infrastructure and spatial development initiatives, and governance and administrative reform.  He has led teams for a number of international donor agencies and is highly knowledgeable regarding global best practices in regulatory frameworks for private sector development.  Mr. Gauthier has also counseled corporate clients on finance; M&A; real estate, construction and environmental law; intellectual property, e-commerce & telecommunications; tax & investment incentives; work visas & labor law; competition; incorporation; and contracts.

Before forming Locus Economica, Mr. Gauthier was the point-person for SEZ Law at the World Bank Group, having worked within its Foreign Investment Advisory Service (FIAS), MIGA Investment Marketing, and the Europe Central Asia Urban Infrastructure Departments.  He was also a Senior Manager at Deloitte Consulting and Bearing Point and a Manager of Law Reform at The Services Group (AECOM International Development).  He has a certificate in Management Leadership from Yale School of Management, Masters degrees in International Economics and Political Science from Johns Hopkins, SAIS, and a LL.B. in Civil and Common Law from the Université de Montréal.

Jean-Christophe Ngo, Senior Associate

Mr. Ngo brings to Locus Economica over 20 years of experience working with private clients, government agencies, and international financial institutions. With a core focus on emerging markets and fragile state situations, he has accumulated an extensive projects portfolio with coverage spanning South-East Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Latin American and Caribbean regions. His interests revolve around the issues intersecting cluster development work and regulatory frameworks that foster private innovation, as a means to foster investment promotion, value addition, and ultimately, job creation. He enjoys actively engaging in brainstorming and problem solving, and interacts with ease with all types of stakeholders, from key decision-makers to local entrepreneurs.

His primary field of expertise pertains to the development of growth poles - new or existing geographical areas with a set of specific competitive attributes - through value chains analysis, regulatory reviews, and / or infrastructure development. He has completed assignments on light and transformative industries (agro-industries, wood transformation, garments & textiles, and other value-added services including tourism), as well as traditional infrastructure industries (airport infrastructure and logistical chain, urban transport, ports logistics and export processing zones).

In his secondary field of expertise, Mr. Ngo assists clients with legal and regulatory issues related to enabling environments for public-private partnerships (PPPs), contractual arrangements, and project financing issues. Through technical report assessments or analytical reviews of case projects, he seeks to identify innovative solutions to leverage strategic market opportunities.

He has worked with the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the World Trade Organization, and other multilateral institutions. He was the co-founder and managing director for Azura Capital, a boutique advisory firm assisting Japanese firms to partner and invest with U.S. companies.

Jean-Christophe recently completed all coursework for a Masters Degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He also holds an MBA degree from the University of North Florida and dual degrees in international marketing from France and Switzerland. 

Pao Li Lim, Senior Associate

Pao Li is an SEZ management specialist who has advised numerous government agencies and private corporations on economic zone strategies under World Bank, Asian Development Bank, UNDP, and UNIDO projects. She has designed institutional structures, marketing strategies, strategic plans, and feasibility studies for over 30 zones programs around the world.

Pao Li's career began with the Penang Development Corporation, a Malaysian state development agency responsible for spearheading the economic development of Penang. In this position, she was responsible for a number of key activities of EPZs and SEZs in Malaysia.

Samir Stewart, Associate

Mr. Stewart is a Locus Economica special economic zone development specialist, responsible for a suite of areas including economic & financial analysis, database management, research & analysis, monitoring & evaluation, project / program management, scenario analysis, business communications & stakeholder management, and training & facilitation.

He brings 13 years’ experience in the World Bank, the International Finance Corp., and various consulting firms in areas related to infrastructure, foreign direct investment, private sector development, economic development and competitiveness, and financial markets. Subsequent work focused on working directly with independent businesses on sales, marketing and distribution of technology and raising investments in real estate and solar.

Mr. Stewart holds a Master’s Degree in International Development among his academic qualifications, with a focus in finance and economics.

Jonathan Smith, Associate

Jonathan is Locus Economica’s lead management specialist and brings over 35 years of professional experience, including 28 years working directly with governments to help improve their delivery of services.  His work has placed him in over 38 countries throughout Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia as an international development projects adviser for NGOs and private firms under USAID, DfID, DANIDA, EU, Asian and African Development Banks, World Bank, and UNDP contracts.  He has also assisted private corporate clientele with trade and market development.

Jonathan played crucial roles in the development of the organizational management, HR, and operations frameworks for the Aqaba Special Economic Zone and Bangladesh Export Processing Zones.  As a change management advisor to the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) from 2004 to 2005, he helped reengineer the ASEZA’s services by separating its regulatory functions from its investment development functions to improve overall functioning of the SEZ.  In 2008, he assisted the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA) by assessing training needs and implementing training programs for BEPZA officers and advised on the formation of a one-stop shop to streamline administrative procedures.

Jonathan specializes in strategic planning, change management, HR performance, business process reengineering training, market intelligence and research, organizational restructuring, HR systems, performance-based position descriptions, project cycle, and monitoring and evaluation.  His sector experience includes SEZs, international trade & exports, maritime shipping & ports, aeronautics, infrastructure development/engineering, international banking, Military, IT/IS, agriculture, counter narcotics, water/wastewater, financial services with American Express, marketing intelligence with InfoAmericas, and others.  He has also worked with the municipal waste management sectors of Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina; Egypt’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology; and the finance ministries of Benin, Philippines, Mozambique, Chad, and South Africa. 

Earlier in his career, Jonathan worked as a personnel manager for American Express, Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, Northrop Aircraft, and IBM-France.  Jonathan is fluent in English, French, and Spanish and has university Russian.