Cagayan de Oro, known as the ‘melting pot of Mindanao’, has proven time and again its capabilities as one of the Philippines’ best cities for investors. Due to its accessibility as a city with multiple air and sea ports in the area, and its consistent rank among the list of the most competitive Philippine cities by the National Competitiveness Council, it has become the regional center and logistics and business hub of Northern Mindanao and one of the most progressive and competitive cities in the country.

Part of the reason for its competitiveness and why it holds the potential to become one of the country’s emerging business sectors is its well-developed infrastructure backbone. The first-class city has the major advantage of being a gateway to Northern Mindanao, with connectivity to major production areas and markets through Laguindingan International Airport and an extensive inter and intra-city road networks. The city also possesses the largest seaport in Mindanao, the multi-berth Cagayan de Oro baseport.

Cagayan de Oro serves as a city of trade links in Southern Philippines, the entry point for goods to be quickly distributed to a consumer market of millions, and the most efficient exit for the island’s agricultural and industrial products to its major foreign and domestic markets in Visayas and Luzon. Supply chain companies have located their major depots or distribution centers in the area.

Its strategic location attracted even the Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation to put up its multi-billion peso fuel import facility there, dubbed as the North Mindanao Import Facility (NMIF), which provides power and energy to the population of Visayas and Mindanao.

Cagayan de Oro also has a solid infrastructure for telecommunication. The city is linked to four access nodes (fiber optic ring). Thus, when one side is cut-off, the city/province can still access connection from other nodes since all signals are being hauled to the cable landing stations in Batangas and Ilocos. It is now part of the seamless fiber optic ring of all major telecom providers and host of Cellular Mobile Telephone Services (CMTS) Main Switching Centers (MSCs).

Another reason for the city’s growing economic strength lies in its extensive pool of human resources. As the home of many universities and other educational institutions, Cagayan de Oro supports the growth of its over 600,000 residents with quality education and training. Xavier University (Ateneo de Cagayan) is Mindanao’s first university, while Capitol University and the Liceo de Cagayan University are cited by the National Association of Colleges and Universities as among the country’s top 10 higher education institutions with the highest number of accredited programs. The city has access to eight universities, 70 colleges and six computer technology institutes in the region.

Xavier University —

Special skills training and apprenticeship programs are readily available for Cagayan de Oro residents. For instance, Xavier University has partnered with Asian Carmakers Corporation, the official BMW distributor in the Philippines, to bring the expertise of BMW to technical education students.

A skilled and educated population in turn contributes to the formation of a valuable work force that is attractive for corporations in various industries.

In terms of economy, Cagayan de Oro is largely sustained on the strength of its industry, commerce, trade, and service sectors. The city is the growth driver of Northern Mindanao, with a gross regional domestic product of P270.0 billion in 2014, attributable to the city’s thriving industry and services sectors.

The business processing and outsourcing (BPO) has especially benefited from the city’s ample work force. At present, business process operators in the city include the Concentrix Corporation, a global knowledge process outsourcing company and wholly owned subsidiary of SYNNEX Corporation; Rider Livett Bucknall, a company which provides quantity surveying, project/construction management, and advisory services for BPOs; and Teleperformance, the world’s leading provider of outsourced omnichannel customer experience management services.

Even now, Cagayan de Oro’s potential as a BPO hotspot continues to attract investors abroad, powering the city’s overall sustainable and eco-friendly economic development. Today, Cagayan de Oro boasts of five IT parks and two IT buildings, two of which are PEZA-registered.

Meanwhile, the rich agricultural resources of the city has also made it a prime location for agribusiness. Multinational agribusiness companies, such as Del Monte and Nestle, have chosen Cagayan de Oro as their site of operations. As the gateway to Southern Philippines, Cagayan de Oro provides direct access to rich agricultural areas of Mindanao, which is the source of 40% of the country’s food and livestock. The city is also a significant producer of oleochemical and other coconut products. Presently, Northern Mindanao is the top producer of cattle and is the third largest producer of poultry in the country.

As the Philippine economy attracts more foreign business due to its rapidly growing economy, next wave cities like Cagayan de Oro can only become more attractive for investors over time. Its excellent location coupled with sound infrastructure and a valuable work force make it one of, if not the best cities to do business in the foreseeable future. — Bjorn Biel M. Beltran