THE United States (US) and the Philippine government joined forces to launch “The Urban Connect Project” on October 27, 2023, aimed at accelerating economic development in Iloilo City and eight other urban cities beyond Metro Manila.
The US Agency for International Development (USAid) is financing 'The Urban Connect Project' with an investment of approximately P625 million (US$11 million) over five years, focusing on building capacity and providing technical assistance to foster economic growth in partner cities including Iloilo, Batangas, Legazpi, Puerto Princesa, Tacloban, Tagbilaran, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, and Zamboanga.
In collaboration with local governments, the project will aim to achieve economic expansion, enhance the business permit processing system, improve financial accountability, promote good governance, and foster cooperation between neighboring cities.
The project will also promote healthcare and education, push for mitigation of climate risk and disaster preparedness, and seek gender equity and social inclusion.
The implementation of the Urban Connect Project will take place on October 31, which is also World Cities Day and the Philippines’ Local Government Month.
Participating stakeholders included members from the private sector, supporting institutions, and national and local government officers under Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benhur Abalos and Director General Ernesto Perez from the Anti-Red Tape Authority.
“Aligned with our vision in building competitive, resilient, socially-protective, and safe LGUs, we believe that USAid’s Urban Connect Project will complement and can help in further supplementing the efforts not only of DILG but also of other government agencies in enhancing public service delivery and advancing local economic development,” Abalos said.
Ryan Washburn, mission director for USAid in the Philippines, reaffirmed the US government’s commitment to working with partner cities toward inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
Washburn said, “Urban Connect project promotes sustainability and resilience so that no person is left behind in these cities.”
The USAid would like to increase the ability of its partnering cities to develop as economic growth hubs inclusive hubs and innovation centers
The move is part of USAid’s ongoing Cities Development Initiative, where it has implemented critical economic reforms and enhanced competitiveness in three pilot cities namely Iloilo, Batangas and Cagayan de Oro.
The Urban Connect project is consistent with the Philippine Development Plan 2023–2028, which aims at making the US government support regional competitiveness through inclusive and resilient economic growth in the Indo-Pacific region. (SunStar Philippines)