Davao businesses urged to gear up for rapid growth

DAVAO CITY — The Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCCII) said businesses should start planning for expansion to keep up with outside investors and the projected growth of Metro Davao, following the award of a master planning contract for the “Metro Davao” area.

DCCCII President Ronald C. Go, in a statement, said business with a longstanding stake in the city, should look at how they can grow given the upbeat economic mood for the Davao Region.

“We need to seize the opportunities as even outsiders have come to the city to invest,” Mr. Go said, referring to both local and foreign investors.

He said one growth avenue is partnering with the new entrants, citing as an example Japanese investors who are studying joint venture agreements with local partners following the Davao City government’s trade mission to four Japanese cities in October.

“Let us not wait for others to leave us behind, let us move faster,” he said.

Urban planner Felino A. Palafox, Jr. of Palafox Associates has been tapped to lead the development of a master plan for a Metro Davao, encompassing Digos City, Davao del Sur, which is southwest of Davao City, up to Maco, Compostela Valley in the northeast, including towns and cities in between such as Tagum City, Davao del Norte.

During a consultation last week on the proposal, Mr. Palafox said he has worked on planning projects in Dubai and would bring that experience to the Davao job.

“Davao (Region) has a potential. It is 10 times the size of Manila and nine times the size of Singapore,” Mr. Palafox said.

He said the plan is to make Metro Davao pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly, and ensure that open spaces are developed.

The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), one of the key proponents of the master plan with an initial budget of P25 million, said the consultations are intended to ensure that the expanded urban area of the Davao Region is “pro-people.”

“It is our goal that our collective vision for Metro Davao is reflected in the study. So we enjoin you to speak up, participate, help the planners understand what we want for our metropolitan area,” MinDA chair Abul Khayr D. Alonto said during the consultation.

The drafting of the master plan will start with taking stock of the key infrastructure facilities, existing and planned, as well as other key components needed for a growing metropolis.

“While the masterplan will essentially focus on the urban areas along the transport backbone, it is expected that the study will also take into account the land use and the socioeconomic activities of the rural and sub-urban components of the municipalities and cities that compose Metro Davao, as well,” part of the project brief reads. — Carmelito Q. Francisco