THE United States Agency for International Development (USAid) acting assistant administrator for Asia, Denise Rollins visited Cagayan de Oro City recently to renew the US government’s commitment to promote cities as engines of growth under the Cities Development Initiative (CDI) of the US–Philippines Partnership for Growth.

Welcomed by Mayor Oscar Moreno, Rollins conducted a walking tour of the City Hall’s Business One Stop Shop (BOSS), which was established with the assistance of USAid through its Investment Enabling Environment Project (Invest).

This effort in “Invest” enabled CDO to achieve significant progress in streamlining its business permitting process, significantly reducing processing time for renewals from 19 days to less than an hour in 2014, provided that all necessary documents and requirements are complete.

Launched in 2012, the CDI seeks to promote economic development outside Metro Manila to disperse economic opportunities and enable the country to accelerate and sustain higher, broad-based inclusive growth.

Rollins was accompanied by USAid Philippines mission director Gloria D. Steele.

Rollins visited program sites and engaged with local leaders and families that represent the wide scope of USAid’s work in the Philippines, from government officials, to business and community pioneers, to survivors of Typhoon Yolanda.

Moreno assured his administration is doing well and that expectations are met in line with “Invest.”

“And we have to do more to show that indeed we are a growing city and an investment destination in northern Mindanao,” Moreno said.

As proof, Moreno said that the city has done tremendously in its revenue collection exceeding the previous years’ figures.

In January to March 2012, the collection amounted only to P274, 527, 431, while in 2013 of the same period the city collected P297, 276, 880.

In January to March 2014, revenue collection amounted to P412,401,098.

Cagayan de Oro is also one of the first cities to set up a Satellite BOSS (outside the City Hall) during the January 2013 and 2014 renewal period.

The city’s efforts to streamline its business processes and cut red tape earned it the distinction of being the number one most competitive city in the Philippines in 2012, based on a study by the National Competitive Council.

“Cagayan de Oro City is indeed on its track in making itself known in the Philippines as an ideal place for business and investment,” observed Rollins.

She said Cagayan de Oro City will continue to generate volumes of additional investments and increased economic activity to help achieve broad-based, inclusive and resilient growth.”

As part of the CDI, the US government and partner cities – currently Cagayan de Oro, Batangas, and IloIlo – hold mutual responsibility for promoting growth through appropriate incentives and policies, greater transparency and accountability, and increased competitiveness.

To maximize USAid’s impact, CDI combines economic and investment-related activities with social, environmental, and governance assistance to achieve synergy and unleash the growth potential of cities, ultimately allowing the country to leapfrog past its constraints to growth and join the next generation of developing nations.

While in Cayagan de Oro, Rollins also visited USAid projects being implemented in Mindanao, including Mindanao Health, the Water Security for Resilient Economic Growth Project, the Biodiversity and Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy and Ecosystem Resilience, and the Private Financing Advisory Network activity.