New York. Singapore. Amsterdam. Genoa. Shanghai. Venice. Los Angeles.
What do these cities from all over the world have in common?
They are all considered port cities. Amsterdam and Genoa, in particular, have been two of the busiest cities in Europe thanks to bustling port activities that ushered in trading, improving economic relations with neighboring states and cities as well as ushering in a self-sustaining economic activity.
Now imagine what an P8 billion port would do to a city such as Cadiz, which is now emerging as the “it” city of the north.
Imagine, too, what would happen if Cadiz – which is largely still agricultural with 35,000 hectares of land dedicated to farming, specifically sugarcane – becomes self-sustaining enough that it would be able to produce enough products not just for its residents but also for trading and export.
That is the grand vision of any chief executive manning a city port.
And that, fingers crossed, could well happen to Cadiz under Mayor Salvador Escalante once its commercial port becomes operational.
NOW NEGROS, TOMORROW THE WORLD
“Cadiz would have more economic activity. It will draw in investors and trading ships, which would mean more employment opportunities for the ordinary Cadiznon.”
This is the prognosis of City Planning and Development Officer Engr. Gilbert Alaparito when asked about his 10-year forecast once the port – which is under negotiations with Frabelle Group of Companies – becomes operational.
The CPDO is upbeat about the future of Cadiz economically, and financially once the port is operational, and the three growth areas namely Tinampaan, Cabahug, and Caduha-an would be fully developed.
He also allayed fears that the port might kill existing industries and means of livelihood like farming, and fishing.
One the contrary, it would be an opportunity for farmers to widen their markets. (READ also: Beyond balyena and uga: The Cadiz Ati-atihan in full color)
Cadiz farmers have started to diversify and have planted certain areas to coffee, pineapple, and banana, products that have potential to be export-ready.
“These products could be a useful source of income for them,” Alparito said.
If the port opens Cadiz becomes a hub, a center for trade, bolstering its claim as a trans-shipment area that opens the city to other areas like Batangas.
PARTNERS IN PROGRESS
“Agriculture and other areas will not be left behind,” Lyn Regodos, the city’s Local Economic and Investment Promotion officer, said.
The city will provide safety nets for those possibly affected by the inevitable development once the multi-billion peso port becomes operational.
“The city will prepare them for what is to come,” Regodos said. “Preparing” them means honing their skills, or subsidize initial capital for possible investment to cushion the effects of the shift in the economic landscape.
Agriculture and farming would still be maintained, with efforts to make the industry more sustainable, she said.
“It is a balance between maintaining urban vs rural (development). And we are starting now, so they will not be affected (that much) by the development,” Regodos added.
The city also continues its social health and wellness programs like the Pagkaon Aton Tatapon, a feeding program launched in 2011 under then Mayor Patrick Escalante.
Cadiz has also partnered with the Department of Trade and Industry’s Negosyo Center, a program that promotes ease of doing business to micro, small and medium enterprises. (READ also: PART 2: Beyond balyena and uga)
In other words, the groundwork has already been laid for the big development.
All these – plus the happening and quickening economic climate caused by twenty-somethings putting up their own business with friends and partners – can make Cadiz a highly-urbanized giant of the north in the future.