By Mar S. Arguelles
LEGAZPI CITY --- For being a potential key driver of growth in the Bicol region, this city on Wednesday became the latest addition in partnering with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to promote inclusive and resilient urban growth by strengthening its economic competitiveness as second-tier cities outside of Metro Manila.
USAID and the city government of Legazpi on yesterday entered into a new partnership to advance inclusive and resilient growth through the agency’s City Development Initiative (CDI).
USAID Country Director Dr. Susan Berms and Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal signed a Memorandum of Understanding making Legazpi the seventh city in the country to join USAID CDI.
Other USAID partner cities currently include Batangas, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Puerto Princesa, Tagbilaran, and Zamboanga.
“Legazpi City is the key driver of growth in the Bicol region, with tremendous potential to pursue inclusive development in surrounding localities in Albay,” said Brems.
She said the dynamism of this city and province can be seen as you drive through widened road networks and beautiful and attractive sceneries.
Brems said she was impressed to see the participation and enthusiasm of stakeholders from the national, local government officials, business community, academe, and members of the civil society who witnessed the MOU signing marking the start of the CDI program here.
Through this initiative, the agency would be working closely with the city government in strengthening the economic competitiveness and resilience by promoting Cities as Engines of Growth, Brems said.
The CDI is a key element of the United States-Philippine Partnership for Growth with Equity.
Under the partnership, the U.S. and Philippine governments are working to put the nation on an accelerated growth trajectory that benefits the majority of the Philippine population.
“Now in the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte we have reaffirmed and validated the framework of our bilateral existence focused on the 10 economic agenda of the Duterte administration,” Brems said.
She describes the Philippines as a model of growth by looking at the national and aggregate statistics though there are still stubborn poverty where growth is not yet inclusive.
According to Berms the Philippines is most vulnerable to calamities calling it “a climate insult” whether it be a typhoon or an earthquake, despite the challenges this city had faced as a pioneer in Disaster Risk Reduction and Management and at the forefront in progress.
The initiative would provide the city with wide range of technical assistance in drawing resources for economic growth, health, energy, environment, governance, and education.
The CDI would also help improve investment climate and development potential by fostering an open and competitive business climate; facilitating investments in high-value clusters; enhancing human capital development and promoting industry academe linkages.
It would also strengthen health services and ensure urban environmental resiliency.
City Mayor Noel Rosal said “The city will be able to enhance its competitiveness and acquire the knowledge and skills to address disaster risks. These projects will help sustain our city’s development.”
Rosal added the city had garnered national awards for being named the most livable city in the country, convention city in the country, an investment and tourism hub, and a Gawad Kalasag Hall of Famer for DRRM.
To highlight the MOU signing Rosal presented to the USAID the City’s Action Plan (CAPs) in addressing economic growth, education, environmental resiliency and health challenges.
The USAID and its city partner pledge to work together with mutual commitment and implement these CAPs with in a four-year time frame.