A group of prominent Bohol business leaders noted that outside investors are mostly bullish in setting up businesses here -but with some guarded reservations.
Chief among the drawing power of the 1.3-milion inhabited island province have been been the outstanding human capital and the relatively low cost of doing business here.
Aside from labor being relatively cheap, Boholanos are known to excel in their working places because of their friendliness and hospitality making them easily adjusted to their work environment. They are “generally good team players”.
Even abroad, stories abound aboutÂ industrious Boholano sea men being prejudiced in their assignments because their superiors do not want them to shine and may threaten to wrest their positions.
The investors note that the province as a working Investment Promotion Center that provides assistance and research material for investors.Â New business openings are now reduced to justÂ three steps to complete.Â Finally, there is a strong private-public sector collaboration with whoever sits in power for government.Â
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry can attest to that last fact.
There are of course certain drawbacks that investors are wary of , according a aggregate of business persons here. Power, which is a major cost component of business, is unstable in the province ,dependent as it is on the interconnected cable sourced from the geothermal facilities in neighboring Leyte.Â
This was exemplified in a large way during the last Yolanda and earthquake incidents in 2012.Â A month-long black outÂ almost paralyzed the province almost until the Christmas season that year.
Water is still considered scarce in areas where it is needed most- for instance in the tourist island of Panglao. This is ironic, they say, since Bohol is teeming with water coming from its seven major river basis.
What is public knowledge ,likewise, is that the internet service hereabouts is tantalizingly slow , at times worse than other parts of the country.Â The fiber optic programÂ of the PLDT seemed to be hemmed in by technical difficulties.Â
Finally, there is a lack of uniformityÂ and clarity among most LGUs when it comes to an investment code that will define, among others, the tax and non-tax incentives to investors.Â
WHERE INVESTORS INTEREST ARE
Doubtless, tourism is the flagship industry of Bohol bannered underÂ it Eco-tourism program. In fact, the last two biggest investors have been in that industry: Hennan Resort (500 rooms) and Be Grand Resort with 350 rooms.
There are smoldering interests in the development of Anda, also rich with sandy beachesÂ with the near completion of the Ubay domestic airport and presence of alternative seaportsÂ in nearby towns.Â
There is continuing interest in the province finally doing justice to its emerging role as among the next wave ofÂ IT-BPM site. Aside form availability of local talent, the province offers superlative rest and recreation facilities with the pristine white beaches only 15 minutes drive away from the city.
The next big thing seems to be in agriculture. Cacao demand alone for Bohol is about 1 ton a month-egging plantation sites. Coffee , peanuts for peanut sweetened products are in the list when even star peanut is being “imported” from Mindanao and yellow corn is always wanted by the expansive feedmill of the Alturas group.
OFW remittances continue to power the consumer purchasing power here and thus investors are interested in mall and supermarket type operations, car transportationÂ selling andÂ that of real estateÂ for land and dwellings alike.Â This would also encourage lending activities for such purchases for both banking and informal lending institutions.