AS the “Best in the Country to Invest In,” per U.S. News and World Report, the Philippines may be on its way to attaining its full potential as a nation. The report gave a glowing comment in selecting it as the most preferred by business decision makers in the world: “In years to come, the country is expected to receive more FDI from within the region from powerhouses like China that are looking to utilize available labor in developing countries.” And I must add to that: Cebu will be the center of this positive development.
This “Island in the Pacific” as promoted in the past, has always been the choice of foreign businessmen and corporations primarily because of its most important resources: its people. Cebuanos are adaptable, industrious, creative and pioneering. This is exemplified by the successful operation of multinational companies in the Mactan Export Processing Zone where world-class products have been exported to other countries.
When there was global demand for certain products or services such as shell fashion accessories, rattan furniture and call centers, Cebu became the “go-to” place. While at times, Cebu did not have the raw materials to manufacture the products demanded, its geographical location was ideal with sources coming from Mindanao and other Visayan islands.
The human resources of Cebu are developed by some of the best educational institutions in the country that respond to the needs of industries. Whether in managerial, in operations, in marketing and in product development and innovation, homegrown talents are readily available.
But there is one other factor that makes Cebu tick: its entrepreneurs. Some of the country’s most successful business families come from Cebu including the Gokongweis, the Aboitizes, the Gotianuns, the Uytengsus and the Gaisanos. Already the second and third generations from these families have successfully transformed their companies to the challenges of today’s business environment.
Then there are the young guns whose innovative spirit have contributed not only to the economic growth of Cebu but have also caught the attention of prospective investors from other parts of the world. The poster boy of this group of entrepreneurs is Kenneth Cobonpue, whose integration of design, manufacturing, distribution and branding has become a template for success. These young guns are making an impact in different fields such as food processing, property development and tourism.
These are indeed exciting economic times for Cebu, more exciting than the intramural in local politics. While the latter may be creating bumps in the road to progress, the business sector has sturdy machinery that aims to propel Cebu as the center of economic development in the Philippines.