ILOILO CITY – Western Visayas is an "economic powerhouse" thus, it continues to attract investors thereby spurring growth and development among provinces in the region, an official of property giant Megaworld Corporation said.
Megaworld senior assistant vice president and head of public relations and media affairs Harold Brian Geronimo, on the sidelines of a media tour here last week, said the region has a lot of opportunities especially in terms of tourism, business and trade.
Geronimo cited that Western Visayas hosts the most number of Megaworld township developments outside Metro Manila.
There are five Megaworld townships in the region, namely, Iloilo Business Park and Sta. Barbara Heights in Iloilo, Boracay Newcoast in Aklan, and The Upper East and Northill Gateway in Negros Occidental.
Megaworld has a total of 24 townships and lifestyle communities across the country.
"Among the regions, Megaworld has a big stake in Western Visayas," Geronimo said, adding that helping spur economic growth in the areas where they have presence is part of the company's vision.
The official further said the company continues to encourage other locators to set up their operations in the region that will translate to more employment opportunities for Western Visayas people.
Aside from direct jobs, these developments are also providing thousands of indirect jobs to other sectors like in the transportation and service, among others, Geronimo said.
For Iloilo alone, Megaworld is currently at about 40 percent of its Iloilo Business Park project since it acquired the property in 2007 and started the development in 2012.
Geronimo said they are building more office towers, condominiums and another hotel in this capital city.
"There's still a lot room for development," he said, adding that while developments in Iloilo continues, those in other provinces in the region are also ongoing.
It can be recalled that for Negros Occidental, Megaworld earlier announced that it is pouring in about P35 billion worth of investments for the two township projects namely the Northill Gateway and The Upper East.
"In Bacolod City, we are just starting but the people there could expect something different from the rest of our projects," Geronimo also said.
For Iloilo City, it is also pouring in P35 billion for the development of the 72-hectare Iloilo Business Park - the biggest single township project of Megaworld.
International Corporate Plaza
Banking on the potentials of the region, particularly Iloilo City, the property giant is bringing in a new product positioned to further boost the city’s investment landscape as well as stir more employment opportunities for the people here and other provinces in Western Visayas.
Megaworld is developing the 19-story International Corporate Plaza (ICP), which is envisioned to be the region’s most state-of-the-art and “green” office development.
Launched in July this year, this is the company’s first office tower for sale in the Visayas and Mindanao.
ICP will have 301 prime units for sale to businesses, start-up companies and even established enterprises that want to set up operations in Iloilo’s newest central business district.
It can cater to law and accounting firms, medical clinic, travel agencies and ticketing offices, contractors and engineering offices, insurance companies, realty offices, cooperatives, lending and financial institutions, non-profit organizations, and manpower agencies, among others.
The tower that sits on a 1,846.64-square meter lot offers prime office spaces ranging from 26 square meters to 65 square meters.
With an average price of P155,000 per square meter, the tower will house “managed facilities” or “common amenities” at the sixth level including two boardrooms, three meeting rooms, co-working and breakout areas, executive lounge and a skygarden.
Geronimo said they want to promote Iloilo as city where Bacolod, Cebu and Davao businessmen and entrepreneurs can setup their businesses. It’s perfect for them, he said.
“We saw its potentials,” Geronimo said, adding that Iloilo City is already booming and it has a stable local government.
Rising within the township’s nine-hectare Commercial and Boutique Hotel District, ICP will also have a four-level parking podium, retail spaces and arcade area at the ground floor, keycard-enabled turnstiles providing enhanced security for the building’s main lobby, and radio-frequency identification (RFID) will be used to secure the parking areas.
Jennifer Palmaraes-Fong, vice president for sales and marketing of Iloilo Business Park, said the new office tower will also be fiber-optic-ready and equipped with its own seismic detection and monitoring system, building management system (BMS), 24-hour Security and Fire Command Center, fire security system, and a hundred percent backup power facility.
“On the main highlights of the tower is its enhanced security and safety features, another first in Western Visayas,” she added.
Another skygarden will be found at the tower’s rooftop, providing a refreshing and tranquil views of the bustling cityscape as well as Guimaras Island.
Aside from it, ICP will also be highlighted by other “green” and sustainability features including LED lighting, use of dual flush-type water closets in common toilets, and a material recovery facility for proper waste segregation and recycling.
“Companies and entrepreneurs can now own their office space and enjoy its generous facilities never been before in any office building in the region,” Palmares-Fong said, adding that ICP offers the full integrated township lifestyle of Megaworld which is the live, work, play and learn.
The company has started the pre-selling of units, and about 26 percent were already sold since the launching two months ago.
Of the figure, about 30 to 35 percent are locators from outside Iloilo.
The construction is targeted to start next year to be followed by the turnover in 2023. While, the completion is expected in 2024.
Megaworld expects to generate P2 billion in sales from this new office development.
In terms of employment, ICP is seen to generate an additional 1,500 jobs on top of the thousand jobs created by Iloilo Business Park mostly in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector.
“Iloilo has been a sleeping city in the past decades, now they are already rising,” Geronimo said, adding that “when Megaworld came in, we were able to persuade other developers to come in.”
Affirming this, Mayor Jerry Treñas said Iloilo remains attractive to investors mainly because of the incentives given by the city.
Treñas, in a courtesy visit at his office on Thursday, said they want Iloilo to be able to attend to the needs of its investors right away.
The city, he said, is asking the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to help them digitize and streamline its building permit processing.
"At the same time, we have an office to help prospective investors especially if they have problems in putting up their businesses in the city," the mayor added.
To make Iloilo more investor-friendly, the city has also reclassified parcels of land to make it easier for the investors to attend to the needs of their businesses.
Treñas said the strategic location of Iloilo, which is "the capital of region" and also the "economic capital" of Panay Island if not of Western Visayas is an attraction to investors to put up their regional centers here.
"We have seen the surge in investment in the past 10 years and more are coming in," he said.
Data presented by the Local Economic and Investment Promotion Office and Iloilo Chamber of Commerce showed that in terms of investment areas, particularly information and communications technology (ICT) potentials, the city has six IT Parks accredited by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority.
Its monthly contribution to local economy is $130 million in 2018.
For BPO alone, the city currently employs about 26,000 call center agents with 70 existing firms and will be needing additional 10,000 talents this year. Its total IT-Business Process Management capacity is 50,000.
Aside from BPO, another areas which Iloilo is ready for is conventions like Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (Mice).
Treñas said they want to benchmark with other destinations because they want to see Iloilo as destination for conventions.
“We have enough hotel rooms, about 3,000 for now, plus the convention center with a capacity of 3,500,” he said, adding that “we are ready to have more conventions here.”
Megaworld, through its Iloilo Business Park, hosts some of the BPO firms in the city.
These are on top of other projects like mall, residential and office towers, transport hubs and hotels, among others.
For the local government, the presence the company has already helped Iloilo a lot.
Treñas said Megaworld, the biggest property developer in the city, has attracted a lot of investments.
“They have put up world class facilities and spurred development,” he added.
The property giant, for its part, has recognized that Iloilo is booming. Investors have seen the potential of the increasing purchasing power of the people here.
Geronimo said the middle class here is very strong. In fact, Iloilo has been known to have one of the highest savings in the country.
“It’s really a center of business and trade,” he said, adding that “now is the time to do business in Iloilo.”
Moreover, the company said part of their vision to boost the economy of the region is to uplift the lives of the people by giving them employment opportunities.
It expressed optimism that through its developments across the country, they positively impact the society and help shaping the nation.