The Philippines continues to attract the attention of investors all over the world. Particularly for the global information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) industry, the country is a beacon of opportunity and progress, owing to its largely young and educated work force and their strong English fluency, and its rapid macroeconomic growth.

With so much demand for real estate in Metro Manila, investors are starting to branch out into other areas.

The Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), in partnership with the government’s Department of Science and Technology-Information and Communications Technology Office and Leechiu Property Consultants, released a list of “Next Wave Cities” that may serve as new hosts for growth of the IT-BPM industry.

The cities, according to IBPAP, could be seen as new hubs of economic activity that could best enable and support the continued growth of the IT-BPM industry. These cities are, in alphabetical order: Baguio City, Cagayan De Oro City, Dagupan City, Dasmariñas City, Dumaguete City, Lipa City, Malolos City, Naga City, City of Sta. Rosa and Taytay (technically, this is a municipality).

The locations were identified for their suitability in hosting local and international IT-BPM players based on an assessment guided by the government. The Next Wave Cities scorecard includes the following criteria: talent, infrastructure, cost and business environment. All these are factored in to evaluate a city’s ability to enable and support the entry and growth of IT-BPM companies in its area.

In addition to the 10 identified areas, IBPAP also named Davao City and Iloilo City as new centers of excellence, elevating their status to that of Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Metro Clark and Bacolod City as premier IT-BPM hosts and high-density locations.

Since its inception in 2009, the Next Wave Cities program has spurred development not only of the IT-BPM sector but also of cities outside established IT-BPM hubs, such as Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Metro Clark and Bacolod City.

‘Next Wave Cities’

As the center of business, commerce and education in northern Luzon, Baguio City also serves as the regional center of the Cordillera Administrative Region. Due to its reputation as a university town, with eight major institutions of higher education within its premises, and its population of over 345,000 who are mostly skilled and educated, the city is a bright spot for companies looking for a competent work force.

Serving as the capital of the province of Misamis Oriental, Cagayan de Oro City is seen as the regional center and business hub of Northern Mindanao, and part of the growing Metropolitan Cagayan de Oro area. Ample supply of human capital supported by available health, research, educational and modern telecommunications facilities make it a flourishing hub for business process operators. Concentrix Corp., Rider Livett Bucknall, Teleperformance, Azpired, Envizion, Arriba Telecontact, Accolade Resources, Support Zebra and Versatel all have operating centers in the city.

In the northwestern part of Luzon, fronting onto the Lingayen Gulf, the City of Dagupan is a major commercial and financial center. Largely known for its fishing economy, the city has also been seeing an economic boom in recent years, with the Department of Trade and Industry naming it the most competitive city in the region in 2017.

Lying close to Metro Manila is Dasmariñas, a bustling city of more than 650,000 people. Due to its relative proximity to the capital, the City of Dasmariñas has seen rapid development and an influx of business, allowing it to grow beyond its agricultural-based economy, and evolve into a highly urbanized, commercialized and industrialized area. It now boasts three industrial estates: First Cavite Industrial Estate in Barangay Langkaan, Dasmariñas Technopark in Barangay Paliparan I and NHA Industrial Park in Bagong Bayan.

Nicknamed “The City of Gentle People,” Dumaguete City is the capital and most populous city of the province of Negros Oriental. Similar to Baguio, the city holds a wealth of educated workers due to the presence of four universities and a number of other colleges. This has allowed Dumaguete’s outsourcing industry to flourish, with its workers staffing call centers, publishing, medical transcription, animation, editing and architectural outsourcing across over 20 IT and BPO (business process outsourcing) locators.

In Batangas, Lipa City is fast emerging as a key city, showing its potential as a major institutional/administrative center, medical center, commercial center, financial center, agro-industrial center and residential center in the region. With Metro Manila being only an hour and a half away, Lipa has grown from its agricultural roots and seen a surge of economic activity in recent years. It is now home to many BPO firms and call centers.

The historic city of Malolos was also named a Next Wave City for IT-BPO locators. Nestléd between the capital and the booming area of Clark, Pampanga, Malolos is brimming with economic activity from a variety of industries, from BPO to health care to foodservice.

Naga, as “The Heart of Bicol,” is the site of most of the region’s commerce and industry. The city was named one of the most business-friendly cities in Asia and is considered to be one of the Philippines’ most competitive cities. The city currently has three IT parks for IT-BPO firms: the Naga City IT Park, the Camarines Sur Industrial and Technological Park and Naga City Technology Center.

In South Luzon, Santa Rosa City is shaping up to be another emerging hub for BPO companies. The city is home to a number of special economic zones and industrial parks, including the Laguna Technopark, Inc., Greenfield Automotive Park, Toyota Special Economic Zone, Lakeside Evozone Nuvali, Daystar Santa Rosa Industrial Park, Santa Rosa Commercial Complex, and the Meridian Industrial Complex. BPO firms such as Convergys, KGB, Teletech, IBM and Concentrix have centers there.

The Municipality of Taytay stands as the only municipality on the list yet is as good an environment for business as any of the others. Taytay ranked first in the 1st and 2nd Class municipalities category under the resiliency pillar and overall Competitiveness in the 2018 Regional Competitiveness Summit. Though traditionally known for its garments and woodwork, Taytay is now home to several multinational companies.