CLARK FREEPORT ZONE– “It’s like a greenfield; you can build to your preference.”
Clark Development Corporation (CDC) Pres. Noel Manankil presented Clark Freeport Zone as a greener pasture for foreign investors during a closed-door meeting with a potential locator on August 9, 2017 at the CDC president’s office.
Manankil, who heads the state-owned corporation that manages Clark, delivered a progress report before the said potential locator. Though his report was promotional in nature, he also disclosed pertinent information about Clark’s present situation.
Manankil disclosed that as of June 2017, Clark has 929 locators, some of which are multi-national companies. These locators are handling 101,688 workers who come from various provinces in Central Luzon.
“We are running out of land (because of the upsurge of investments),” said Manankil who claimed that the influx of investors in Clark has not been precedented in years.
He clarified that the lack of available land in Clark is not due to congestion and poor urban planning. CDC is working on Clark’s master plan, which will aid the government in subdividing the freeport zone into zones appropriate for industry, education, and tourism.
Manankil said investors are also pulled towards Clark because of the ease of doing business here.
“Because it is a freeport zone, you talk to only one government agency, and that is the CDC,” said Manankil.
Biggest Investments in Clark
As of June 2017, SFA Semicon Corp. is Clark’s top exporter. It has exported products amounting to USD 1.4 billion, and is currently in need of 1,500 workers.
Next to SFA Semicon is Texas Instrument, which has exported goods amounting to USD 980 million. Respectively, Nanox Phils. Inc. and Yokohama ranked third and fourth.
Bigger investments are coming to Clark in the next three years. Three big hotels, namely Marriott Clark, Hilton Hotel, and Mirej Clark will be opened to tourists in 2018. Mimosa, which is one of Clark’s oldest recreational facilities, is being developed by Filinvest and will open its new amenities on 2021.
Yet, Manankil said that the “real” measure of Clark’s potential is the viability of its airport.
“The main gauge of Clark is the international airport,” said Manankil, who added that Clark’s accessibility increases the popularity of this freeport zone among foreign investors. Last year, the Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) recorded a total of 900,000 passengers.
Looking Forward to the Future
As with anyone working in Clark, Manankil is looking forward to the future when this freeport zone would rival the viability of Manila and Makati. He points to the creation of New Clark City, a state-of-the-art metropolis that will rise north of the existing freeport zone.
Aside from being a greener and safer place to do business in, New Clark City will also be a haven for the people, especially for those who belong to the grassroots level. Unlike the existing Clark Freeport Zone, New Clark City will have housing facilities for workers.
To date, not even 5% of Clark’s workers live inside the zone. In the New Clark City, the government will provide housing facilities courtesy of the National Housing Authority. These houses will be spacious enough for one family, unlike the common dormitory-type buildings that other economic zones offer.
CIAC President Alexander Cauguiran complemented Manankil’s reports about Clark’s potential for business.
“It will be more beneficial if you will decide to work in Clark. Now is the time,” said Cauguiran while addressing a potential locator in Clark International Airport.