SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) expects to continue attracting foreign direct investments and to generate more jobs this year, as it plans to expand into surrounding communities to accommodate major development projects.
SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said in a presentation at the recent Subic Labor Congress here that the agency is looking into some 21,000 hectares of land in nearby communities that could be developed for more business ventures.
“We continue to fulfill our mission of attracting investments and generating jobs, even as we are now practically running out of space in the Subic Bay Freeport,” Eisma said.
“We are now in consultation with officials of local government units nearby, so that we can develop more areas for trade and business operations,” she added.
Eisma said that foreign direct investments (FDIs) continue to pour into Subic because of the SBMA’s investment promotion program. The latest in the pipeline, she said, include at least four FDI projects worth $10 million from Taiwan, which are separate from the P866-million committed investments approved by the SBMA in the first quarter of this year.
“These companies, which are into manufacturing and recycling, will initially employ at least 260 workers, and these workers would come from our neighbor communities,” Eisma pointed out.
She added that more employment opportunities will be opened with the big-ticket investments that were approved this year. These are the redevelopment of the Binictican Golf Course by a Japanese firm for at least $30 million; redevelopment of the Triboa Clubhouse and facilities by a Taiwanese company for P2 billion; construction of a 400-room five-star hotel and resort for $20 million; and development of the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA) into a world-class business aviation center for $8 million.
Eisma explained that there are now 1,587 business locators with more than 134,000 workers in the Subic Bay Freeport, and with development largely suitable only within the fenced-in portion of the former Subic Naval Base, the SBMA has to expand into nearby areas to sustain local economic growth.
“It’s a good thing that the neighboring towns have pledged about 21,000 hectares for these future projects,” Eisma revealed.
She said these include 9,000 hectares in San Antonio, Zambales, which are ideal for resort development and leisure businesses; 10,000 hectares in San Marcelino, Zambales, for agriculture, mining and quarrying; 500-600 hectares in Subic, Zambales for factories, agriculture, and energy; and 500 hectares in Castillejos, Zambales for light to medium industry, and warehousing.
Meanwhile, the city of Olongapo pledged 900 hectares for housing, light industry and tourism, while Hermosa, Bataan allotted 505 hectares for light to heavy industry, renewable energy, metal industry, and vehicle assembly/auction.
SBMA records indicate that the Subic Bay Freeport Zone recorded a 14% increase in employment last year when its active workforce reached a total of 128,200, compared to 112,600 in 2016.
Most of the workers in the Subic Freeport come from the neighboring areas of Olongapo City, which accounts for 36%; Zambales, 27%; and Bataan, 12%.