Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia has called on members of the City Development Council, including business leaders and Bacolodnons in general, to be ready for better and bigger things to come with the goodwill and positive image resulting from the recent declaration of Bacolod as the Most Business-Friendly Local Government Unit for 2021 outside of Metro Manila.
Speaking before the council Monday, Leonardia, the concurrent CDC chairman, was upbeat as he expressed confidence that the city will get back on track under the new normal, and pursue greater economic progress after the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday awarded the LGU the most prestigious award it won in 2007, when he was also mayor.
“I hope that with this now, we had set our standards high and let it be our culture to be business-friendly. This is the key to better progress and prosperity in Bacolod City. I promise you a great future. We will achieve greater heights as long as we will work together,” the mayor said.
The November 18 virtual awarding ceremony served as a highlight of the 47th Philippine Business Conference and Expo at the PCCI Innovation Center in Pasig City with President Rodrigo Duterte keynoting the event.
Leonardia recalled that when Bacolod won the same title in 2007, none other than former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, bestowed the award to the LGU.
What was doubly rewarding about that award in 2007, he recounted, was the fact that Bacolod was lumped in the same highly-urbanized city category that included National Capital Region LGUs.
It made many of us very proud because we bested cities like Makati, Quezon, Manila and Mandaluyong, he added.
“We cannot overemphasize the fact that the same PCCI Award in 2007, ushered or precipitated the growth and sudden surge of big-ticket investments in Bacolod,” he said.
NEW INVESTMENTS, NEW BUSINESS DISTRICTS
Leonardia recalled that after receiving the PCCI title, SM City, which had just started out then, ventured into expanding its complex beginning with the SMX Convention Center.
Today, he continued, the SM Group added a hotel (Park Inn), and started to construct a building for call centers and a university (National University) aside from the Smile Residences, that when completed would be comprised of about 7,000 condominium units.
The Bacolod economy was soaring in 2019 and going full blast but was snapped by the declaration of the pandemic in early 2020. But I am certain that being the Most Business-Friendly LGU will result to renewed investors’ confidence and create thousands of jobs, he added.
In addition to SM and Robinson’s, which had also invested in expansion in recent years, the Ayala Group came. Ayala Malls Capitol Central, Amaia Steps and Seda Hotel are now in place, he said.
Also coming in with major portfolios are Vista Land of the Villar Group that transformed the Buri Road in Barangay Mandalagan from being a far-flung, rural area into a metropolitan business community with the opening of Camella Homes, a condominium and All Home Mall, Leonardia said.
MEGAWORLD, ROCKWELL TOWNSHIPS
Leonardia said like most Bacolodnons, he is proud of the award given by the PCCI.
He echoed during the CDC assembly, attended by 25 accredited business organizations, civil society organizations, NGOs and people’s organizations, among others, they be ready with bigger challenges and a brighter future that lies ahead.
Many are cognizant of the fact that even with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic still, property developers like the SMDC, Cebu Landmasters, MegaWorld and Rockwell in the high-end segment continue to develop their areas.
He cited other players like the City Mall of Injap Sia that built two malls in the city and 888 Chinatown Mall.
The Rockwell Company had initially acquired a 10-hectare property fronting Camella Homes in Mandalagan and recently added 30 hectares more along the Circumferential Road, where it envisions to develop a mixed-use business district in five years and transform the area as a financial center similar to Makati City, the mayor said.
Recently, Leonardia led guests during the opening of the clubhouse and Christmas Village of MegaWorld owned by tycoon Andrew Tan, whose company acquired the 34-hectare Bacolod-Murcia Milling Company-owned property that it will develop into a township.
One of MegaWorld’s two 18-storey towers is nearing completion and residences, hotel, call centers and a shopping mall will operate at the sprawling township located across the Bacolod City Government Center.
Tan is an adopted son of the city and was given the title as Bacolod’s honorary mayor, which he values so much, Leonardia said.
Represented by MegaWorld executive Harold Geronimo, a Negrense by birth, Tan’s firm committed to spruce up the BCGC and Bacolod Public Plaza grounds with Christmas decors in time for the holidays.*