LEGAZPI CITY: With the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) picking out Albay province as the next manufacturing industry hub in the country, the national government agencies and the provincial government of Albay are working together to make the province the new economic zone in Luzon.

A few days ago, Henry Schu–macher, ECCP vice president for external affairs, wrote a letter to Salceda saying that they’re eyeing Albay as the next manufacturing hub.

Schumacher said Albay province has great potential for new business opportunities as it is investor-friendly, provides low-cost leases and more attractive labor policies, and is open to public-private partnership contracts attractive to real-estate firms.

Engr. Macario Pavia, chief of the Provincial Planning and Development Office of the provincial government of Albay met with representatives from the Department of Trade and Industry and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority as well as local businessmen to identify a viable location fit for economic zones here.

Three prospective areas were identified by the techni- cal working group as a pos- sible Luzon ecozone: the Em–barcadero de Legazpi, the Legazpi Domestic Airport site, and the Banquerohan village in Legazpi near the proposed Bicol International Airport and Polangui town.

The Embarcadero de Legazpi is the site of new investments and economic expansion where business process outsourcing firms, a mall, bars and the seaport line the longest scenic boulevard with a bonus backdrop of Mayon, the world’s perfect cone volcano.

The seaport is used for inter-island cruises and caters to international vessels here. The Legazpi City Domestic Airport could only be utilized for an ecozone if the proposed Bicol International Airport will be built before President Benigno Aquino 3rd ends his term in 2016. The Polangui is quite far from Albays’ capital hub of Legazpi being a town near the Camarines provinces and the National Capital Region.

With this, Gov. Joey Salceda said that he will facilitate the foreign-led development through an initial creation of the planned Domestic/Export Enterprise Zone, which is a prerequisite for a developing ecozone in Southern Luzon.

“The Domestic/Export Enterprise Zone is an initial requirement for developing ecozones. The industrial complex may lead to an “Albay boom” converting the province into a new ecozone in Southern Luzon,” Salceda said.

The focus is on industries such as food, garments, footwear and furniture in which Albay has recorded an impressive growth.

Because of this, Albay will soon play host to low-cost, labor-intensive manufacturing with its potential capacity to be developed into a special economic zone where labor costs are substantially lower compared to those in Central Luzon and Metro Cebu.