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Haitian firm becomes Caracol Industrial Park's second tenant

Peintures Caraïbes plans to produce paint for the domestic market and to export to CARICOM countries

CARACOL, Haiti – In a ceremony led by President Michel Martelly, Haitian paint manufacturer Peintures Caraïbes Tuesday signed a contract to become the second tenant of the Caracol Industrial Park, a project financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the United States government.

The local company, which will initially produce for the domestic market but has plans to export to other Caribbean countries, followed Korean textile company Sae-A, which last year signed on as the anchor tenant of the park being developed in the northeastern area of Haiti.

"This is a good moment we're living here now," Martelly told a crowd of government officials, business people and hundreds of construction workers who took a break from building the industrial park's infrastructure. "This is the debut of a grand adventure."

The industrial park's sponsors expect the 593-acre facility to eventually host factories employing as many as 37,000 workers. Their salaries alone would bring tens of millions of dollars a year to a region where subsistence farming has long been the principal means of earning a living.

Sae-A, which this year is opening a garment factory and later plans to build Haiti's first textile mill in the industrial park, has said it plans to expand its payroll to 20,000 workers over several years. The company is in the process of equipping the garment factory and is hiring and training hundreds of workers who live in surrounding communities.

Peintures Caraïbes, which will continue operating its factory in Port au-Prince, expects to hire around 160 workers to begin production at Caracol this year, according to its CEO, Pierre Yves Gardere.

The Haitian government currently is in talks with other potential tenants from a variety of industrial sectors and services. The Caracol Industrial Park is owned by the Haitian state, which recently appointed Georges Sassine, a seasoned businessman, as director general of its SONAPI industrial park agency.

The IDB contributed $55 million in grant resources for the industrial park project's initial phase and is due to present a proposal for a $50 million operation to its board later this year for the second phase. The U.S. government is providing $124 million in grants for the project.