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Cebu goes corporate

The term “Ceboom,” which has become a byword in the 1980s and 1990s, explains why Cebu has effectively challenged “Imperial Manila’s supremacy.” Cebu’s rapidly expanding economy is poised to outstrip Manila’s dominance in both politics and business.

Behind the “Ceboom” phenomenon were then Gov. Lito Osmeña and cousin, Cebu mayor Tommy Osmeña, who have engineered the influx of foreign investments during the turbulent post-Marcos years when Manila was hobbled by political turmoil and capital flight.

Among their remarkable handiwork was projecting Cebu as a largely autonomous haven for big business, promoting it as a magical “Island in the Pacific,” the exact opposite of Manila’s deteriorating image. Cebu’s geographical advantage as gateway to Southern Philippines, highly accessible by air, land and sea, y make it a strategic fulcrum for foreign investments, and the country’s top tourist destination.

One other “Ceboom” big contributors are its high-standard educational institutions which yearly churn up highly educated graduates for a competent workforce, a solid foundation for business to thrive on.

Cebu City Mayor Tommy Osmeña wants to further consolidate this advantage and shortly launch a program to develop local world-caliber talents who will run important city operations to ensure its global competitiveness.

The plan entails direct city government subsidies for would-be economists, engineers, scientists, accountants and managers to be for both government agencies and private companies.

“Our home-grown talents can compete with the world’s best. It becomes a matter of providing them the right opportunities and vehicles to grow and prosper right in Cebu,” Mayor Osmeña said.

Cebu’s leading universities, which annually regularly produce topnotchers in national board examinations and land high-paying jobs here and abroad, are thus capable of creating a local cadre of professionals and highly-skilled workers who can handle the city’s ever expanding business and industrial operations.

With its nine economic zones as major business hubs that host hotels, restaurants, housing developments, etc., the city can readily mobilize its large pool of available skills and talents.

With its strengths, Cebu has consistently been among top local economies. Its export growth in the past five years, averaging close to 20% is considerably higher than the national figure and that of any other province of the country.

Cebu is base to over 80 percent of the country’s inter-island shipping capacity. Its GDP grows over 10% annually, and its top businesses earn some $3.6 billion annually. (Johnny Dayang)

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