CARACOL, Haiti – The Government of Haiti, together with the U.S. government, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and Korean apparel manufacturer Sae-A Co. Ltd., officially laid the foundation stone for the Caracol Industrial Park. Haitian President Michel Martelly, along with former U.S. President Bill Clinton, presided at the ceremony for the 246-hectare park, one of the largest and most modern in the Caribbean. Local leaders and businesspeople, plus more than 500 members from communities in northern and northeastern Haiti, attended the event. The Caracol Industrial Park will create thousands of new jobs for Haitians and help launch Haiti back on a path of economic growth.
In his keynote speech, President Martelly underscored his administration’s commitment to continue to seek investment to create jobs in Haiti. “Haiti is open for business,” he said.
“The Caracol Industrial Park shows the positive impact foreign investment can have in building Haiti back better,” said President Clinton. “It will bring tens of thousands of jobs to Haitians, and I am proud to be here for the groundbreaking of this important project.”
Sae-A Co. Ltd. is investing $78 million to develop operations in the park and has committed to hiring at least 20,000 Haitians to work there. This is the largest single investment in modern Haitian history and Sae-A Chairman Kim spoke of the long-term positive impact of this investment because it would show to the world that “The Haitian people are hard working, highly competitive, and ready to build a brighter future for their families.”
The IDB is providing $55 million for the initial phase of Caracol’s construction. It is also financing programs to foster the creation of local small and medium-sized enterprises to supply goods and services to the industrial park's tenants and workers. “Caracol can have a phenomenal multiplying effect in this region,” said IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno. “Besides the thousands of factory jobs that will be created by large manufacturers, we will see many local entrepreneurs starting up small businesses, expanding the industrial park’s economic impact beyond its gates.”
The U.S. government has committed more than $124 million in funding to build at least 25 megawatts of electrical power generation, improve regional health facilities, construct up to 5,000 housing units near the towns of Ouanaminthe, Fort Liberte, Terriere Rouge, Trou Du Nord, Caracol, and Quartier Morin in Northern Haiti in partnership with the IDB and Food for the Poor, and modernize regional port facilities.
The U.S. Agency for International Development is carrying out the projects. U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth H. Merten hailed the Caracol Industrial Park and Sae-A’s investment in Haiti as a great victory and said, “Investment is the real key to making the Haitian people more prosperous, which in turn will make the Haitian nation more independent and sovereign.”
The partnership between Sae-A, the IDB, the Haitian and American governments, and the Clinton Foundation will have a positive and lasting impact on the Haitian recovery effort. The Park symbolizes a major step forward in our collective efforts to revitalize and expand the Haitian apparel and light manufacturing sectors.
After the ceremony, the officials were able to see the construction site, currently Haiti’s largest. Operations at the park are expected to begin in March 2012.
- Peter Bate