CITY OF SAN FERNANDO - Business leaders said Sunday they see better opportunities for local business and employment in Central Luzon (CL), as the national and local economy are showing stronger signs of recovery from the global financial crisis.

Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PamCham) President Rene Romero told Sun.Star Pampanga that the year 2010 would be a much better year than 2009 for local business in Pampanga and Central Luzon.

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He said most business, particularly the small and medium enterprises, were least affected by the crisis and are now in much better position to implement expansion plans that were put on hold due to the unfavorable business condition brought by the crisis.

"We are now having that general feeling of going out of recession that hit many countries in 2009. We also see a better local economy and a surge in consumer spending as brought about by the coming May Elections," Romero said.

Election time, according to Romero, would perk up local market activity as politicians spend for their campaign materials and activities.

"The sheer amount of money poured in during election time is enough to perk up local market conditions. This time is also an opportunity for many businesses like printing to earn more from candidates," Romero said.

He said that members of PamCham, who are businessmen, have been optimistic of the improved fiscal conditions of the country. Romero said that most of their members will be instituting expansion plans this year.

Meanwhile, Department of Trade and Industry Regional Director Blesila Lantayona said that investors' confidence in Central Luzon is expected to improve as local government units are expected to streamline their business process and licensing system in accordance with the department's program of creating conducive business environment in towns and cities of the region.

"The prospect of generating more employment and expanding sales by the region's small and medium enterprises this year is positive because of the intensified assistance and pump-priming programs of the government," she said.

Lantayona said that they project at least an increase of 1, 000 additional jobs in Pampanga alone for the first part of January this year coming from "sunshine industries" like call centers and culinary businesses.