LEGAZPI CITY, July 29 (PNA) -— This premiere city in Bicol will soon rise as one of the country’s future investment hubs after getting the third spot in the overall ranking set by the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) Philippines to measure the performance of more than 1,300 local government units (LGU) across the country in providing an attractive climate for business.
City Mayor Noel Rosal said Legazpi City got a total of four awards, including the third place over-all ranking, during the 4th Regional Competitiveness Summit and Awards ceremony held on July 14 in Manila.
He said in an interview that he was “elated when the city was recognized as the third most competitive LGU in the country.”
This raised his hopes, he said, that Legazpi City would become the “next investment hub outside Metro Manila, Cebu, Iloilo and Davao.”
Rosal said the city’s rating has jumped seven notches higher, “to number three this year from its number 10 rating in last year’s evaluation.”
The summit highlighted results of the 2016 Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index (CMCI), which measured the LGU’s ranking based on three criteria—economic dynamism, government efficiency and infrastructure.
An annual ranking developed with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and a telecommunications giant, CMCI measured the LGUs classified into four categories: 3rd to 6th class municipalities, 1st to 2nd class municipalities; component cities; and highly urbanized cities or HUCs.
In its category as a component city, Legazpi received three awards –all in the third spot—in all the three criteria cited. The fourth award is the third place for “over-all competitiveness.”
“Placing third among hundreds of component cities in the country is a great honor to us as we strived hard to gain the recognition,” he said. The Philippine Statistical Authority said a component city is that which is located within the boundaries of two or more provinces. It said such a city shall be deemed a component of the province of which it used to be a municipality.
According to NCC, there were 1,389 LGUs, 144 of them cities and 1,245 municipalities, which joined this year’s CMCI, the largest number since the index started in 2013.
NCC said the number of participants in this year’s ranking was 85 percent of the total LGUs in the country. In 2013, only 17 percent of the LGUs joined the CMCI index. Both the academe and public and private sectors helped gather the data for the rankings.
Once only known as a disaster prone area in the Bicol Peninsula frequented by typhoons, storm surge, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, Legazpi City has been transformed into a thriving investment center in Bicol and the entire Southern Luzon area.
Rosal said the NCC recognition would boost the city government in its drive to carry out investment-friendly projects that would further help improve its economic standing.
He said the CMCI index rating would give confidence to the business sector in putting investments in the city while financial institutions would be encouraged to offer grants to sustain the economic development projects being pushed in the city.
Rosal said he believes in the city becoming an “investment center” since Legazpi City is by law the regional center site in Bicol where all national agencies with regional offices are situated.
He said the city is also a center of trade in Bicol because Legazpi is strategically located with “four million people from the (Bicol) provinces of Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Masbate, as well as the (Visayan) provinces of Samar and Leyte, doing their shopping here.”
Rosal said several investors who set up businesses here have noted Legazpi as the “best haven for investment” and “one of the better places to live in.”
Recently, AyalaLand in partnership with the LCC Group of Companies opened Ayala Malls Legazpi, a four-story complex worth P1.6-billion that is seated on a 1.4-hectare lot in the city’s commercial district.
A PHP2-billion condominium hotel to be called Horizon Plaza Legazpi will break ground within the next two months, an official of the property development firm owned by the Gaisano family-led Viscal Development Corp. announced last week. The three-tower high-rise will each have ten stories.
Rosal added that through the Department of Public Works and Highways, a P1-billion flood control project was implemented in the city with the construction of three pumping stations, making it an “all weather city” with no worries for floods and storm surges during stormy weather.
He said Legazpi is the only local government unit in Bicol that has built and maintained a P2.-1 billion state of the art sanitary landfill in partnership with the Spanish Agency for International Development Corp. (AECID) in Barangay Banquerohan.
The mayor said owing to its majestic Mayon volcano, a wonder that rises 2,460-meter above sea level and known for its nearly perfect shaped cone, Legazpi City, the capital of Albay province, would remain a top tourism destination in the country.
City tourism data show Legazpi has an annual average of 35 different kinds of conventions, seminars and conferences with an increase of 45 percent in tourist arrivals or a total of 967,396 visitors recorded in 2015 compared to the 666,210 tourists posted in 2014.
Legazpi has been tagged as the second most liveable city by USAID and as a “City of Fun and Adventure” by the Department of Tourism.(PNA) LAP/GVR/MSA/CBD