ILOILO CITY — The Iloilo City government and the busi-ness sector are launching a campaign to attract investors in information technology (IT), tourism and agribusiness.
Leah Lara, executive direct-or of the Iloilo Economic Deve-lopment Foundation (ILED) and Iloilo Business Club (IBC), said they will mount an invest-ors’ forum and product exhibi-tion at the Renaissance Hotel in Makati this September.
Ms. Lara said they plan to invite to the forum the Ayala Group, SM Group, Megaworld Corp. and other business giants in the country.
“This is a coming out party for the city and province of Iloilo as the next investment hub. We will ask for help and attract investors in agribusiness, tourism and IT. We will also exhibit Ilonggo products dur-ing the activity. The club and the foundation are working on the details,” she said.
Megaworld plans to develop the 54-hectare old airport site in Mandurriao district into a P1.5-billion IT park. The Phil-ippine Economic Zone Author-ity (PEZA) recently approved Megaworld’s application for accreditation of the proposed cyberpark as a special economic zone for IT. PEZA director general Lilia de Lima informed the Iloilo City council last week on the approval of Megaworld’s accreditation bid, Ms. Lara said.
The IT park, which will be known as the Iloilo Business Park, is envisioned to become a “live, work and play” hub.
Megaworld acquired the old airport property in 2007 for over P1 billion.
The new airport is located in Cabatuan and Sta. Barbara towns, about 20 kilometers north of this city.
Ms. Lara said the PEZA ac-creditation is a positive development in their efforts to attract more investments to the city and province of Iloilo.
“Iloilo is ready because we have the resources and the space. It is just a matter of packaging the city and province to lure investors. Iloilo has a distinct advantage in the IT industry,” Ms. Lara said.
“While the local government unit stands to lose a lot in terms of real estate taxes [due to incen-tives for locators in the economic zone], the jobs that will be gene-rated by the presence of IT firms in these PEZA sites are already a good trade off,” she added.
There are now five PEZA-accredited sites in Iloilo City, namely the: Amigo Mall and Robinsons Place in Iloilo City proper district; SM City in Mandurriao which hosts call center firm TeleTech; Gaisano City Mall in La Paz district; and Iloilo Commercial Development Corp. (ICDC) building which houses ePLDT Ventus in Molo district.
Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas said the presence of PEZA sites bolsters the city’s standing as a promising business process out-sourcing (BPO) hub.
In its “Exploring Global Fron-tiers” report released in February 2009, auditing firm KPMG cited Iloilo City as one of the next generation BPO sites in the world.
The Commission on Infor-mation and Communications Technology (CICT), the Busi-ness Processing Association of the Philippines (BPA/P) and the Department of Trade and In-dustry (DTI) also cited Iloilo as one of the “Top 10 Next Wave Locations for Outsourcing in the Philippines” outside Cebu and Metro Manila. Iloilo City ranked third in the CICT-BPA/P-DTI scorecard with a rating of 80.93%.
Ms. Lara said they initially planned to hold the investors’ forum in October last year but it was postponed because of the economic crisis and the after-math of typhoon Frank, which struck in June and caused mas-sive flooding in Iloilo and other areas in Panay.
The Iloilo Economic Deve-lopment Foundation, which was founded by key represent-atives from the local govern-ment, business community and private individuals, has said it is committed to fast-track the development of the city and province of Iloilo by promoting and marketing Iloilo as a pre-mier investment destination.
It is headed by Alfonso Uy, chairman of the La Filipina UyGongco Corp., as chairman, and Rex Drilon II, chief operating officer of Ortigas and Co. Limited Partnership, as president. — Francis Allan L. Angelo