BACOLOD City bagged the “Most Business-Friendly Local Government Unit” for 2021 award given by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the largest business organization in the country.

The Negros Occidental capital city bested 10 other finalists in the City Level 1B category, composed of highly urbanized cities outside the National Capital Region, of the nationwide search.

Mayor Evelio Leonardia received the award from PCCI officials led by its president Ambassador Benedicto Yujuico and chairperson Alegria Limjoco in a virtual ceremony Thursday, November 18, highlighting the 47th Philippine Business Conference and Expo.

The 2021 recognition came 14 years after Bacolod City bagged a similar recognition in 2007. Since then, the city has been a consistent national finalist of the search in the last four years.

Leonardia, in his acceptance speech streamed via Zoom, said the award is like a "candle in the darkness."

“This reassures us that when this pandemic is over, we will all be back in business and we will row the boat together. We will accelerate,” he said, adding that “we will tread that road to recovery altogether. We thank you for this inspiration of being the Most Business-Friendly City outside of Metro Manila.”

The City Government, in a statement, said it is generally believed that the first PCCI recognition in 2007 was a major factor that attracted big investments and catapulted Bacolod City to where it is today.

The PCCI cited the city for having been successfully restoring and increasing the business operations in the area through significant and sustained innovative actions, programs and policies.

The award aims to highlight LGU success stories and best practices that go beyond mere compliance to address the overwhelming negative impact of the current pandemic to the business community, the organization added.

For the City Government, these innovations and timely interventions made by the local government in support of local businesses at the height of the health crisis included the 24-hour vaccination drive for those in the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector and the service industry.

It also cited the mobile vaccination campaign that inoculated thousands of vendors in major public markets and public utility vehicle drivers, among others, it added.

Bacolod City was up against Baguio City, Angeles City, Cagayan de Oro City, Davao City, General Santos City, Iloilo City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, Olongapo City and Zamboanga City for the coveted PCCI award.

Previously, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has recognized the City Government with the Seal of Good Local Governance, a measure that gives LGUs and their employees incentives or performance-based bonuses.

Bacolod was also recently named by the DILG as the “Best Performing LGU-City Category in Western Visayas” and was cited “Most Competitive City in the Visayas” by the Competitive Cities and Municipalities Index of the Department of Trade and Industry, the City Government said.

In its bid book entitled "Nurturing Businesses HV Amidst the Pandemic" and a five-minute video presented by Leonardia before the distinguished panel of judges, the City Government received high marks for increased competitiveness, for providing an enabling environment and for championing the ease of doing business to attract investments.

It also pointed out the various innovations such as the application of information technology, mall-based and electronic processing of business permits and the accelerated release of permits in 60 minutes provided that required documents are complete and payment has been made.

The City Government was also credited for its promotion and support to micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs).

Leonardia said among the city's top investors for the current period are SM Development Corporation, Park Inn Hotel, Yanson Group of Bus Companies, Ayala Land Inc., Megaworld Corp., Rockwell, Vista Land, Cebu Landmasters, Robinsons and Citi Malls that primarily boosted the surge in the city's economic growth.

He said the total registered businesses in the city was a record-high 25,627 in 2019 before the onset of the pandemic.

“This day belongs to the people of Bacolod,” the mayor said, as he attributed the achievement to the cooperation of the people in the city.

Leonardia said, “this is not just a habit, this is now a culture for Bacolod to be the most business-friendly city and let us live that way all the time.”

“Bacolod we will march to progress. Bacolod, whatever it is, we will fight,” he said. (With reports from Bacolod City PIO)