DAGUPAN CITY -- When it rains, it pours.
Such aptly applies to what is happening today in Dagupan -- a city in the northern Philippines that reached its 75th year of cityhood in 2017 -- with its unprecedented economic development.
Under the administration of Mayor Belen Fernandez, Dagupan became a recipient of numerous national and regional awards unmatched in any period in history of this coastal city by the Lingayen Gulf know for its chief agricultural product, the tasty Bonuan bangus (milkfish).
Business and economy
Last year, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) chose Dagupan as the most competitive city in Ilocos Region, beating eight other fast-rising cities.
Its open-door policy for incoming investors through the formation of the Dagupan City Investment and Development Board, infrastructures that are conducive to business as well as its excellent peace and order were highly considered for this accolade.
Prior to the DTI recognition, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) designated the city as one of the newest economic zones in the country to initially specialize on Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), Information Technology and Tourism.
Apart from this, Dagupan was chosen as the nucleus of a larger economic zone that involves over 1,200 hectares of land in many towns of Pangasinan.
Peza Director General Charito Plaza confirmed that a big American-owned BPO company which would be hiring about 1,000 workers is ready to move in to the Dagupan City economic zone this year.
So far, a local company, USATV, has picked up the challenge and is now intending to build an IT building to house the incoming investor, aside from making available a space to Peza for its regional office where investors may seek information and be guided in setting up their business.
Fernandez said Dagupan is ready to accept the Peza challenge after its new Comprehensive Land Use Plan (Clup) was approved by the city council in 2016 and ratified by the Housing Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) in early 2017.
The new Clup which replaced an outdated one enacted way back in 1976 and became effective in 1978, designated three new growth centers that can be developed for commercial and tourism purposes, housing and factory facilities.
With these centers ready to be tapped, there will be locations for new businesses eyeing to relocate in this part of Luzon and for those old ones now crowding in the central business district of the city to expand their businesses if necessary.
A more visible and tangible proof to Dagupan residents that business is booming is the fact that despite already being the center of malls in Pangasinan, two others are being constructed and are set to be operational this 2018. Another group has presented its plans to put up a similar venture this year and is now scouting for a feasible site.
Also, business establishments and some upscale cafes and restaurants continue to sprout like mushrooms. Tall buildings are likewise rising in many areas of the city.
Good local governance
With its CLUP and all other things considered, it was easy sailing for Dagupan to bag its third Seal Good Local Governance award in 2017.
The recognition is a testament to the efficient management as well as delivery of services by a local government unit and the city easily passed the evaluation with flying colors.
On waste management, a multi-million-peso Waste to Worth Facility that can convert garbage into useful energy such as biogas and diesel fuel was planned last year and is set to be built by the middle of this year with no cost at all on the part of the city government.
Moreover, Dagupan is a consistent finalist in the annual Search for Most Child-Friendly City, which is a tribute to the continuing sacrifices of the local government to advance the cause and welfare of children, especially those belonging to indigent families.
Meanwhile, the city government last year began its plan to build a new government center to replace the old wooden structure built way back in 1925, in one of its new growth centers.
For this year, the city will operate on a budget of over P900 million, the biggest annual allocation among all cities in the region.
Fernandez said her city is now number one in the whole of Ilocos Region not only in terms of income but also in rendering various social services to the people, to be made possible this 2018 by the huge allocation for Dagupan. (PNA)