Iloilo has been a hotspot for investment for decades. From business process outsourcing (BPO) to the industrial and hospitality sectors, there is something in Iloilo province that attracts businessmen from other regions.

Why Iloilo?

There is more than enough fertile land and a pool of graduates each year from prestigious universities capable of a massive workforce. However, there are not enough opportunities for everyone.

Putting up a business is a gamble for foreign investors, said Lemuel Fernandez, Chief of Staff of Iloilo Fourth District Representative Ferj Biron during a business and investment symposium held recently in Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo.

“What we need in the province of Iloilo is the best investment that can generate jobs, employment, and unlimited revenue for the government in the community. We need locators, business locators. We can only have business locators in the district or the province of Iloilo. There is economic growth kun na plastar sang insakto,” he  said.

According to Fernandez, there has to be a reliable water district, a reliable telecommunication system, a transport system, and a robust power supply.

The latter is in question simply because of the frequent unscheduled blackouts and the high cost of electricity for electric cooperatives.

But for the people in the Fourth District, there is a glimmer of hope as they welcome More Electric and Power Corporation (MORE Power).

This power distribution utility has been serving Iloilo City for four years and has shown that there is more than just distributing power to each home.

It is capable of opening doors to more investments.

“We cannot expect the Province of Iloilo to attract foreign direct investments if we do not have these four layers of economic growth. We cannot, and to students, I hope natalupangdan ninyu, mga administrators, but in your curriculum dapat e-include ang Entrepreneurship. Tudluan kita nga mag Negosyo, indi mangin empleyado pagka graduate,” said Fernandez.

Engineer Fulbert Woo, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI – Iloilo Chapter president), said there are a lot of MSMEs in Iloilo, which alone require a stable power supply to operate. For large-scale industries, it requires even more.

“You see, all programs on business development are not only because of the driving force of the dream of our chief executives. It will always be the partnership between the private sector and local government units,” he said.

Currently, MORE Power has the lowest power rate among Du’s in Western Visayas. It is the only utility that uses SCADA-ready equipment, has a 24/7 customer helpline, and a vision that foresees Iloilo as a prime investment hub for the decades to come.

Lawyer Allana Mae Babayen-on, AVP, Legal Officer of MORE Power, said the company offers not just power supply. Still, it wants to become a part of the community by connecting with various groups and communities to identify the needs of the people.

“We cannot just isolate ourselves and say ari lang kami sa background ma provide lang kami sang kuryente and nothing. So, we try to connect to our more than 90 thousand consumers by collaborating with groups that represent the sector. We hope to do that continually kay now and then may ga sprout nga new sectors, businesses. I think the province of Iloilo mentioned that may ara naman kita potential partners, in terms of those ga transport sang cargo, we trying to look ways kun paano kami ka help not just like a passive provider, like somebody that will take first steps to collaborate with these agencies,” she said.

The symposium encourages students and teachers, as well as members of the business group, to create a holistic solution and approach to the challenges in harboring investment for the province.

“Our goal is clear: we aim to advocate for the enhanced services and strategic investments. There will lead to be rising expectations of our dynamic economic landscape,” said Wency Peñafiel Senayo, Business Management Association of the Philippines (BMAP Region VI) president.