MY FRIEND Archie introduced me to a Manila-based investor. We talked of economic variables over cups of brewed coffee. Our guy said, “I have been meeting some public officials in Negros to know their investment priorities. It is sad to say that only very few of them understand their corporate powers.”
When I was still the tourism officer of Silay and Dane Cobrado was my confidante in investment promotions, the former governor Lito Coscolluela, would always tell us that our pilot area, Bacolod-Talisay-Silay Tourism Circuit, should always be keen to the interplay of market forces with minimum government intervention.
Lito here was talking about local economic development. In our Bacolod-Talisay-Silay Tourism Circuit, we have described local economic development as a process by which the public, business and non-government sector partners in a locality work collectively to create better conditions for economic growth and employment generation.
There should be deliberate planning by the identified people, organizations, institutions and other stakeholders. Those involved should understand the local economy. The Local Government Unit under the leadership of a knowledgeable mayor should profile and assess the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Weak mayors do not want to go this deep. They would prefer to talk politics...not this. The idea of the desired economic future should be visualized. It has to be realistically crafted to balance development with environment, physical and social needs.
In the implementation of the strategy, there should be the identification of specific activities, processes, skills needed, sources of funds and the expected impact including collateral effects on the community. That could be the reason why many politicians do not want to take active role on this because there is risk.
So, our Bacolod-Talisay-Silay Tourism Circuit was in. It was agreed that Dane Cobrado will be with me because I will be retiring in January 2017. The national government is always there to create national enabling policies and to provide administrative, professional and technical assistance.
The local government is there to create stable and business friendly environment, gather data and make analysis, mobilize local stakeholders, provide infrastructure facilities, come up with quality comprehensive land use and zoning processes, coordinate, oversee, monitor and evaluate outcomes. (This could be a good start for excellent mayors.)
The private sector invests in productive activities to create wealth, generate employment, and contribute to local revenues. Of course, there are employment and environment standards to be followed.
The academe should offer education and training opportunities. It can connect students and faculty to business and industry. As needed, it could have curricula that will develop professional economic development expertise. Through research and development, it could create new economic opportunities.
How about the community? This is the “we” in the local economic development. We can provide the human resource requirement and participate in local economic development planning activities. Can we do this in 2020?