Posted 5 years ago
Twenty-five years later, Olongapo’s economy stands renewed. Its population grew once again and poised to even surpass the figure when it used to host the U.S. naval base. Businesses are thriving but they are no longer the kind that caters to service the needs of U.S. servicemen. Traffic was being felt especially on main roads, signifying the hustle and bustle of a city with increased economic activities.
SBMA stands proud of having established the Subic Bay Freeport Zone which replaced the massive economic hole left by the military base and breathed life back into the city’s local economy.
|World’s 4th largest shipbuilder Hanjin now operates in Subic.|
|Hanjin Heavy industries, the world’s 4th largest shipbuilder, operates in Subic Bay and employs nearly 50,000 workers, more than the 35,000 total number of workers that used to work for the U.S. military during its heyday.|
Transshipment operation, which was slow in the early years, due to lack of proper handling equipment, made rapid progress and increased its TEU volume capacity after two container terminals were built. The port became busy handling cargo and commercial ships. With the port of Manila encountering congestion problems lately, the underrated and largely unrecognized Subic port has suddenly grabbed the limelight and is becoming the economic and investment jewel it was envisioned to be, especially with a third and fourth container terminal expected to be built in the near future. Japanese and Taiwanese industrial parks housing a good number of factories and other manufacturing firms and a slew of other foreign investors of the more than one thousand five hundred locators that employ nearly 112,000 workers, not only from Olongapo and its nearby local communities but from as far as northern Luzon and Mindanao.
SBMA, which from its beginning never got a subsidy from the national government, has over the last few years, steadily remitted to the national treasury hefty revenue from its operations as well as gave back shares of its income to Olongapo and seven other nearby local government units in the provinces of Bataan and Zambales.
The Subic Bay Freeport, all 67,000 hectares of land turned over by the U.S. Navy in 1992, is now running out of lands to offer potential investors and the SBMA is looking to extend its territory with the help of the LGUs around it. Infrastructure projects are discussed by the new leadership as a way to anticipate further growth.
Subic Bay, as it was during its rich and colorful past, has been a strategic advantage militarily. As a Freeport, it has also shown an its strategic advantage economically, through its ability to operate as a deep water commercial port, proximity to a busy international trade sea lane and just a few hours away from its neighboring countries by plane.
The Subic Bay Freeport may still be young and a long way from achieving its full economic potential but this early it is already showing that as what attracted naval military powers to it because of its strategic advantage, so will business and industries from around the world will find eventually why it is to their advantage to locate here in Subic Bay.
For Senator Gordon as well as to those thousands of volunteers who believed in him, the vision of Subic is now fast shaping into reality.
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