Mayor seeks investments in land, buildings

By: Maricyn A. De los Santos

IF THE Duterte administration has its “Build, Build, Build” mantra, Mayor Jose Espinosa III has created one for Iloilo City – “Invest, Invest, Invest.”

“I am asking businessmen to invest in Iloilo City. If President Digong (Duterte) says, ‘Build Build Build’, in Iloilo City it is ‘Invest, Invest, and Invest’,” he said.

Like his predecessors, Espinosa is fixated at Iloilo City’s claim as the “Queen City of the South” despite the impression that Cebu holds the title as the latter is more advanced than Iloilo in terms of physical structures, standard of living, economic development, etc.

(Photo courtesy of Iloilo Drone Photography)

“I would like to impress upon the businessmen that Iloilo City is the Queen City of the South and that no other cities can claim that they are the Queen City of the South. We can prove it historically and economically,” Espinosa told businessmen during the Iloilo City Trade Investments and Promotions Board meeting recently.

The mayor cited the economic feat of Iloilo in the past, including the opening of Philippine National Bank’s second branch in the country at Plaza Libertad in City Proper, and the volume of monies deposited in the bank during the said years.

“We were more progressive that time, during the boom of the sugar industry,” he said.

The mayor has asked the business community to remember the glorious past of Iloilo, and urged them to capitalize on the “renaissance of the economic boom of the metro”.

“Wherever you are, remember we are the Queen City of the South,” Espinosa said.

Meanwhile, Espinosa called on the business community to invest on lands and buildings, which he said, are in demand due to the number of business process outsourcing (BPO) firms migrating to the city.

“We are looking for buildings to host call centers. There are Australian, Canadian, and Indian call centers, and they are looking for areas where they can put their BPO or call centers,” he said.

“It is now time to invest in lad again, invest in building to suit the requirements of our investors.

Espinosa believes that jobs generated by BPO firms will increase in the coming years, and he is optimistic that the city can meet its manpower needs.

“We have the best universities, (our students) are English speaking, their diction is correct; with a little training, they can be employed immediately,” he said.

Business Process Management firm Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS Iloilo) has expanded its operations to Iloilo City by offering 1,700 seats for full-time employees.

Espinosa joined Indian Ambassador Jaideep Mazumdar in the inauguration of HGS Iloilo recently, together with HGS Iloilo’s Partha DeSarkar (Global CEO) and Pushkar Misra (CEO Philippines).

HGS, part of the multi-billion dollar conglomerate – Hinduja Group, provides outsourcing solutions that include back-office processing, contact center services and customized IT solutions to its global clientele comprising several Fortune 500 Companies.

Meanwhile, Velma Jane Lao, head, Iloilo Provincial Local Economic and Investment Promotions Office, welcomes the IT-BPM investors that relocated in the metro.

“We have 54 BPOs, and around 22,000 to 23,000 full-time employees, of which, 60 percent come from the Province,” Lao said.

Anita Santero of Brgy. Trapiche in Oton is one of the thousands of Ilonggos who benefitted from the influx of IT-BPM firms in the city.

Almost daily, Anita travels from Oton to the city to go to work, sometimes in the wee hours of the morning or late at night.

But the young graphic designer, who used to work in Dubai, has gotten herself used to the schedule because she said she finds her job fulfilling – in terms of compensation and skills development.

“We are able to experience working in a global set up, which gives us an advantage over other workers. Also in terms of salary, we are provided better salaries and benefits compared to other companies. Paanad-anad man lang sa schedule,” she said.

But Anita knows that the schedule is a disadvantage. “We don’t usually have the ‘usual’ work schedule and since we have different schedules, we sacrifice our health.”

The breadwinner of the family, she is working to have their house repaired to provide her mom a comfortable retirement experience.


British Chamber hosts Iloilo Trade Mission

THE British Chamber of Commerce Philippines (BCCP) is hosting a trade mission in Iloilo starting today March 8 to 9 2018, to generate interest in the region’s development.

Following last year’s successful trade mission in Davao which has so far resulted in two business wins for two UK companies, the British Chamber of Commerce Philippines (BCCP) is in Iloilo City this year to encourage more businesses expand operation the Visayas region. This is in line with President Duterte’s plan to spur economic development in the countryside.

In partnership with British Embassy Manila and supported by DTI London, Iloilo Business Club, Iloilo Economic Development Foundation Inc., UK-ASEAN Business Council, and South-East Asia IPR SME Helpesk, the mission is held in celebration of the annual GREAT British Festival from 23 February to 10 March.

Today’s highlight is a Trade & Investment Forum at the Richmonde Hotel aimed to facilitate a dialogue between the government and private sectors and present business opportunities in Iloilo and the Visayas as a whole, and site visits on March 9.


Iloilo is back on the map – Drilon

By: Louine Hope Conserva

Ilonggo Senator Franklin Drilon said the Iloilo Trade Mission of the British Chamber of Commerce Philippines (BCCP) on March 8 to 9, 2018 means that “Iloilo is back on the map.”

“I am very pleased with Iloilo being included in the trade mission of the British businessmen. That means we are back on the map. And that is very important,” Drilon said.

Drilon is coming back in the city to deliver the closing remarks on March 8.

The senator said the trade mission indicates that Iloilo is on the top of the mind of British investors.

“It means that they have considered Iloilo as a good investment destination. And indeed Iloilo has shown tremendous improvement. You have seen for yourself what has happened here. And for the last six years we have been able to provide the infrastructures necessary to make our place attractive,” he said.

Drilon cited the P11.2-billion Jalaur River Multipurpose Project II (JRMP II) which is set to break ground in June this year. He said the project could generate wealth and boost the purchasing powers of Ilonggos.

The dam could irrigate 32,000 hectares of riceland which will boost the income of poor farmers.

He added that the multibillion peso dam would serve as basis for businessmen to make investment decisions.

“They will not come here if they do not find it profitable. You can make it profitable for them if their clients and customers have enough disposable income to be able to patronize the small and medium scale businesses,” he said.

In his visit in Iloilo in February 2018, BCCP executive chairperson Chris Nelson said they chose Iloilo as a venue for the trade mission after Davao City as it is a “growth area.”

“We see the growth right here is higher than the national average based on the figures of the National Economic and Development Authority. And we also think that it’s good to show people business opportunities outside and therefore we’re bringing people in Iloilo,” Nelson said.

He said they want to build long term relationships and develop ties with Iloilo.

“I think initially, we will look into your project development. You have the dam going on. We have a lot of engineering companies. We have a lot of expertise…I have been to Iloilo a couple of times. You are developing,” Nelson said.


Surge in biz registration shows investors’ interest in Iloilo City

MORE investors are eyeing Iloilo City based on the surge in business registrations, according to the head of the Business Process and Licensing Office (BPLO).

Norman Tabud attributed the increasing investments to the favorable peace and order situation, readily-available infrastructures, and a supportive local government.

“Compared to other cities, Iloilo City is now considered as a favorite destination for investors and businessmen,” Tabud said in an interview on Wednesday.

So far, the BPLO has released 11,194 business permits for new and old business applicants since January 2018, compared to 10,350 permits in the same period in 2017.

Meantime, the city government is looking forward to some 2,000 new businesses this year.

Tabud said that with the increasing number of business process outsourcing (BPO) firms, they also expect an increase in demand for food and other services.

Local tourism will also get a boost due to meetings, incentives, conventions and events hosted by this city.

Hence, most of the new businesses would be tourism-related industries such as food, boarding houses, and apartments, he said.

Last year, the BPLO recorded a total of 14,430 businesses in the city.

Meanwhile, Tabud said that they are back to their regular office schedule because the number of business applicants is already manageable. (PGL/PNA)

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