Iloilo: A Prosperous Center of Trade in Western Visayas

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Although known for its thriving tourism, the colorful Dinagyang festival, signature dishes, and breathtaking heritage sites, Iloilo City offers a lot more. In fact, it has joined major metropolises in the country in being a City of Excellence. On par with Manila and Cebu, Iloilo has taken huge steps toward economic progress, evident in different industries in the locale. 

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Here’s a rundown of the most thriving sectors of Iloilo City: 

Commerce

Businesses succeed in the City of Love. Last year, it bagged the title Most Business-Friendly Highly Urbanized City. The award-giving body Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) gives these kinds of recognition to local government units that exhibited excellence in introducing effective reforms that help grow the business sector.

This is evident in how the city government worked hard in making it easy for entrepreneurs to establish a business. Officials streamlined the process of getting permits, cutting the procedure down to three steps only: submission of complete documents that include the sworn declaration of gross receipts; obtaining the Tax Order of Payment; and payment and claiming of business permit. The LGU has also set up a business one-stop-shop (BOSS) for this document requirement. 

Recently, a report showed that more than half of existing businesses in the city already renewed their permits before the January 20 deadline. Approximately 9,000 out of 11,000 ventures settled their tax dues already.

The most thriving businesses in Iloilo are information technology-business process management (IT-BPM) companies. By extension, these tech giants are fueling the growth of real estate.

Medical Tourism

The city also has an emerging medical tourism industry, given the influx of big institutions providing better healthcare. The Medical City, one of the established brands in the country, has taken over a chain of hospitals and clinics in the locale. They allotted hundreds of millions to improve these facilities, adding more rooms and apparatus. Equipped with modern technology, the latest medicines, and exceptional expertise, the medical center helps drive the demand for high-quality healthcare, not only among locals but especially among foreigners. 

Back in 2013, Iloilo was one of the few cities to offer stem cell therapy, with the technology brought by the Philippine Society for Stem Cell Medicine. Stem cell therapy, at the time, was an innovative discovery, as it may treat or prevent certain diseases or conditions, including neuromuscular and degenerative disorders. Back then, city officials were already optimistic that their locale was going to entice tourists and physicians alike. 

As for public hospitals, the city takes pride in the Western Visayas Regional Hospital (WVRH) located in Mandurriao. A center that offers tertiary level of care, WVRH has specialized equipment, including CT scan, interventional radiology, and diagnostic imaging services. It also provides a range of expertise, from rhinology and laryngo-bronchoesophagology to head and neck surgery and child psychiatry.

Real Estate

The property industry is booming in Iloilo City. Aside from commercial spaces used by the IT-BPM sector, residential communities are also in demand. The city has been one of the fastest-growing municipalities in the country, attracting talents and families around the Visayas region who would want to experience its economy’s rewards. It’s no surprise that condos and subdivisions keep popping up in the city.

A rising residential enclave in the locale is Sta. Barbara Heights. Located at Brgy. Inangayan, the community is near the iconic landmarks Iloilo Golf Course and Country Club–the oldest in Asia–and the Santa Barbara Church and Convent. It has an enviable position, as the rolling hills and a natural lake serves as its backdrop. 

Occupying 34 hectares of the 173-hectare mixed-use development, the village has different amenities, including a swimming pool, tennis and basketball courts, and a children’s park and picnic ground. Meanwhile, outside the village, retail shops, restaurants, and boutique hotels line the community. Balancing the aspects of live, work, play, and shop is definitely possible in one setting.

The commercial property portfolio of the city is also impressive. Its enterprise zones serve as headquarters of established brands outside the country’s capital. Iloilo Business Park (IBP), a 72-hectare township, is projected to be “the next central business district” in the locale. 

It will soon house the biggest IT-BPO Cyberpark in Western Visayas, as 10 towers dedicated for the tech industry will be built there. Currently, IBP has One Global Centre, serving companies Transcom Asia and WNS; Two Global Centre, occupied by Startrek; Richmonde Tower, accommodating Reed Elsevier; One Techno Place; and Two Techno Place. The Business Park will also see the rise of International Corporate Plaza, a 19-story eco-friendly office tower, offering 301 prime office units. 

Built to serve different kinds of modern lifestyle needs, IBP also features recreational, hospitality, and expo facilities, beyond the workspaces. It’s the home of the well-known 3,700-seater Iloilo Convention Center, luxury hotels, including Richmonde Hotel and Courtyard by Marriott, the retail destination Festive Walk Mall, and VisMin’s longest shop-and-dine strip Festive Walk Parade. The numerous property projects built and emerging in the city are concrete proof of its thriving real estate industry.

Finance

Financial institutions in Iloilo City commit to keeping and improving public confidence. In fact, in August of last year, the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC), in partnership with members of the Iloilo Federation of Rural Banks, Bankers Association of Iloilo, and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry-Iloilo Chapter, organized a meeting that tackled how they can further boost their trustability factor in their community. 

Some of the things discussed were bank strengthening programs, the use of digital technology, and business opportunities through data availability for market analysis. The Consolidation Program for Rural Banks was also mentioned in the meeting. This is just one of the initiatives of the local banks in making their services more reliable.

Iloilo City isn’t just the City of Love. It’s the city of progress. In every industry, one would find proof that the municipality is on its way to a better economy.

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