THE Provincial Government of Negros Occidental has gained boost as it pitched its business and investment potentials before business chamber-delegations of the recent 45th Philippine Business Conference and Expo in Manila.
Economic Enterprise Development Department (EEDD) head Lucille Gelvolea, who spoke at the breakout session dubbed “Business and Investment Opportunities in the Visayas” held at The Manila Hotel, underscored that Negros Occidental is more than sugar now.
“The province, specifically its capital Bacolod City, is a top investment destination for information and communications technology (ICT),” she said.
Gelvolea pointed out that Negros Occidental and Bacolod City have a total ICT investment amounting to P3.25 billion, or 65 million US dollars.
In terms of ICT infrastructure, the province has high quality yet low cost bandwidth and expanding domestic network, six available platforms, dedicated IT parks with fiscal incentives, and available IT-enabled floor areas, she added.
In her presentation, the provincial government official also highlighted that Negros Occidental has affordable quality human resources.
“We are trying to meet what the industry needs,” she said, adding that the province has highly-skilled labor force, high literacy rate of 96 percent, and predominantly English speaking workers.
Also, it has Western-patterned educational system, strong work ethic, consultative or customer-oriented workers, quality management staff, trainable manpower, low attrition rate, competitive labor costs, and relatively peaceful industrial sector.
The province also took pride of its hospitable lifestyle as it has friendly people, value-for-money housing, modern recreational facilities, first-rate educational institutions, health care and shopping mall, pollution-free environment, hassle-free traffic, peaceful community and delectable cuisine.
“We want to position ourselves also as a destination for culinary,” Gelvolea said, as she stressed that it is the province mission to bring in champions of the industries to improve the Negrense quality of life.
Under the Abanse Negrense Development Agenda of the new administration, the province has four proposed investment areas such as infrastructure development, tourism, technology, and agri-business.
“What shall we do? We have identified development zones in the province namely the Northern Negros, Central Negros and Southern Negros,” Gelvolea said.
In these areas, the provincial government has identified what should be the focus of investments, the EEDD head also said.
For tourism, the province, she said, has diversity of attractions specifically at the north-western and north-eastern side while having a vast potential for development at the eastern side that hosts coastal and marine areas.
The provincial government is banking on integration of north and south attractions to provide more inclusive growth.
The north has cultural, heritage, nature and agri-based attractions while the southern portion is home to coastal, marine, upland, scientific and research areas, and also cultural, heritage and nature-based attractions.
In terms of infrastructure, the provincial government recognized the need to improve transport links between growth centers.
For info-structure, proper connectivity is needed to provide convenience to incoming investors.
For agri-business, Negros Occidental is pushing for aggressive promotion of organic agriculture program, transformation of small farmers into agri-business products, and conversion of sugar mills as power generators.
Gelvolea said they want to increase private sector participation and government subsidies, boost value-adding and processing, and promote farm mechanization for agri-business development.
In order to promote business friendly environment, Gelvolea said the province has already established a one-stop-shop investment facilitation office.
Also, it has the Investments and Incentives Code promoting biodiversity and green economy, ordinance on Public and Private Partnership for the People (P4), Philippine Economic Zone Authority - accredited areas, partnerships with civil society organizations and business sectors for the implementation of Ease of Doing Business Act, and promotion efforts on maintaining peace and order, among others.
“Negros Occidental is not only thriving, we are booming,” she said, telling potential investors that “whatever investments you have, it will grow on how we are able to grow as a province.”