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IDB hails new industrial park in northern Haiti

Manufacturing facility generates jobs, exports in less than one year since groundbreaking

Haitian President Michel Martelly, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno today took part in the official inauguration of the Caracol Industrial Park (CIP), a modern manufacturing facility in northern Haiti

The CIP is a project backed by the Haitian and U.S. governments and the IDB to promote investment and job-creation in a region beset by poverty and unemployment. Once fully developed, the industrial park may host as many as 40,000 workers, whose salaries would inject millions of dollars every month into the local economy. 

In his speech Pres. Martelly said the industrial park was an example of good coordination between the Haitian government and its foreign donors, as well as proof that continuity was possible in Haiti, as the project was first promoted by his predecessor, former president Rene Preval. 

"Caracol is evidence that Haiti is irreversibly open for business," he said. 

Pres. Clinton, who has been working since before the 2010 earthquake to attract more investment to Haiti, said the CIP would not only create jobs but also attract other development investments, becoming "an economic anchor for the region". 

Along with the CIP, various donor countries and international organizations are supporting other projects to improve agriculture, transportation, housing, energy, education, water and sanitation and healthcare in northern Haiti. 

Sec. Clinton noted that, as a result of the CIP project, more than 100,000 people in the surrounding communities will have access to electricity, as the industrial park's power plant, donated by the U.S. government, will also supply local villages. "Our work in Haiti is starting to show results," she said. 

Moreno recalled that he had joined Pres. Martelly and Clinton last November to lay the CIP's cornerstone. "Today, less than one year later, the Caracol Industrial Park is a reality," he noted. 

Since 2011 the IDB has provided $105 million in grants for the development of the state-owned industrial park. A first $50 million grant financed the construction of factory shells, administrative buildings and other basic infrastructure within the 240-hectare facility. 

A second grant of $55 million, approved in August, will finance the expansion of the CIP, which has received its first two tenants. Korean textile manufacturer Sae-A, which has already hired and trained nearly 1,000 workers, recently shipped its first order of Haitian-made garments for Walmart. 

Peintures Caraïbes, a Haitian paint manufacturer, is installing a second factory in the CIP, where it expects to have around 300 workers. Initially it will supply the local market, but it also plans to export to other Caribbean countries. 

A third company, Dominican apparel manufacturer D'Clase, recently signed a tenancy agreement and plans to employ as many as 3,600 workers at the CIP. 

The U.S. government is contributing $124 million to the CIP project. In addition to the power plant, USAID is building hundreds of houses in a new community close to the industrial park. 

The IDB grants for the CIP also provide resources for other investments in nearby communities, such as solid waste management, and for a project to protect the Caracol bay, home to one of the largest mangroves in the Caribbean. 

The IDB and USAID also financed the preparation of a regional development master plan for the surrounding area, which will help guide the Haitian government and its supporters in the international community as they fund other investments to improve the local population's living standards. 

Prior to the inaugural ceremony, Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe joined Presidents Clinton and Moreno in a meeting with a group of influential business people interested in Haiti's prospects. Among those present were Richard Branson of Virgin Group, Dennis O'Brien of Digicel, Alfonso Fanjul of Florida Crystals and Frank Raineri of Punta Cana. 

Also attending the event at the Caracol industrial park were leading figures of the international film and fashion industries who have become prominent advocates for Haiti, including Sean Penn, Ben Stiller, Maria Belo, Donna Karan and Petra Nemcova. 

The IDB is Haiti's leading multilateral donor. Since 2010 it has approved $649 million in new grants and disbursed nearly $450 million to the Haitian government for projects in strategic sectors including agriculture, education, energy, transportation, water and sanitation and private sector development.