SM Supermalls, the country’s largest mall chain, is “100 percent” committed in expanding in Bohol, Governor Aris Aumentado said following a meeting with one of the top executives of the retail giant who arrived in the province on Wednesday.
SM Supermalls senior vice president Bien Mateo paid a courtesy visit to Aumentado at the Capitol to discuss investment plans for Bohol not just in retail, but in various industries including tourism.
“Committed na gyud sila na mo come in sa Bohol. And it is a good development for us knowing ang mga Bol-anon dugay na gyud nilang pangandoy na naay mga national malls na mo sud diri,” said Aumentado.
According to Mateo, the opening of an SM branch in Bohol is already “in the pipeline.”
He estimated that construction will start within the next “two to three” years.
SM is eyeing a seven-hectare property behind the TaRSIER 117 compound in Barangay Cogon and Barangay Dao as site for their first mall in the province.
“We will coordinate closely with the [government] for the necessary things that we need to comply with. And we are very happy to hear from the governor that we are welcome,” said Mateo.
SM’s first investment in the province is expected to generate an estimated 2,000 job openings.
According to Aumentado, he will create a task force which will directly coordinate with SM and other national investors to help ease their entry into the province.
“Naa tay task force na kung naay mga problema na mo abot sa ilang processes, naa tay team na mo tabang nila para ma fast track ang ilang transaction,” he said.
Mateo confirmed that it was the first time for SM to officially coordinate with the provincial government of Bohol to discuss investment opportunities.
The mall executive described the provincial government as “very investor friendly.”
“That’s a very big factor for us to really expedite our development here in Bohol,” said Mateo.
There had been speculations that pushback from the government and local industry players hampered SM’s entry into the province.
According to Aumentado, local mall industry players have not made any attempts to block the retail giant’s entry.
“Pasalamat ta sa local na mga negosyante, labina ang BQ, Alturas ug Shoppers Mart, ni hing sabot sila na mo sud ang mga dagkong businessman dinhi,” Aumentado said.
He also thanked the local mall operators, which are among the largest corporations in the province, for helping sustain the province’s economy in the past decades and generating employment.
“Di nato ikalalis na sa history sa Bohol ang Alturas mao man gyuy naghatag og kinabuhi sa Bohol pero by the time na mo sud na ang SM madungag na pud ang opportunity sa Bohol,” he added. (A. Doydora)