Where the jobs are in 2004: Part II
"Everywhere I turn a building seems to be up in Corozal," , stated a Belizean American who I visited, "I don't know what is happening in Corozal but construction is booming".
"You see", said the City Manager Mr. Gaspar Leiva "The Government is expanding the boundaries of Corozal, for that reason in the Sanker Layout, the Dominguez Layout and the Finca Solana Layout, we are building new homes and encouraging the investment of some light industries in the area".
Mayor Mario Narvaez was quick to point out, however, that while construction has traditionally been the channel for jobs in Corozal, a new avenue was created and the employment crown has to go to the Corozal Free zone. "The Free Zone has created thousands of jobs for Corozaleños", stated the Mayor. The Mayor informed that the Free Zone offers a market like no other in southern Mexico and its entertainment facilities such as the casino offers a get away and excitement.
In addition, he said, Corozal has received some face-lifts which include a new Customs building and an expanded Free Zone. "This year we want to see a new bridge over the Rio Hondo River built and perhaps a New Power Plant in the Zone", stated the Town Administrator. With these two things this year we can get more jobs for the people in Corozal.
Corozal also has a few light industries, a little tourism, several hotels and nightclubs, but Agricultural products such as Sugar Cane, Papayas, and Vegetables remain dominant outside the zone for job creation and district growth in 2004.
There are nine hundred cane farmers in the northern part of Belize. When you translate that into true economic numbers (in an average of four persons per family) it reads that 3,600 persons are assisted by the planting of the sweet stuff. And we are not including the mechanics, the tire shop, the drivers, the factory operators, the men that handle the molasses and the thousands of other persons indirectly involved.
"In the North, Sugar is Boss", Mayor Castillo of Orange Walk. "We are still a significant contributor to the economy of Belize both on the local scene with jobs and international with foreign exchange".
King Sugar is also complemented by the production of Soy Beans, Cotton, Honey, Cattle rearing, and the thriving lumber industry.
Also Tourism is fast-becoming a significant area in Orange Walk with an increase in tourists visits to town and archaeological sites such as Lamanai.
Of significance this year is that Orange Walk will host the Belize/Canada World Cup Qualification match in June. Town administrators and government have pledged to prepare the Sugar City for the grand event. The event will create a new avenue for jobs in sports, advertising, and security, and present a means for extra cash for food vendors, hairdressers, boutiques, etc. in 2004.
"GOB remains the biggest employer in Belmopan," cited the city administration Mr. Rodney Neal, "But that does not mean we are not doing our share to expand and bring in new jobs to the capital". Last year the 'Garden City' saw growth in construction and light industries with the Mena group, Jebco construction, Caribbean Investment Ltd., Habet & Habet and others local enterprises we will continue to grow in Belmopan.
The construction of more homes will expand the boundaries even more in 2004. A farmers' market was established to provide farmers with the opportunity of selling their products on the Agricultural Show grounds. This year a new Central Market will be opened.
"2004 may be challenging", stated Mayor Chanona, "but with God's help and hard work, we are prepared to take it on as we have in other years".
"Everyday we have about fifteen thousands persons coming into the city to work", reported Mayor David Fonseca. The City Council is the biggest employer in the city and they are always looking for more ways to create new jobs. The old capital, Belize City, benefits from being the commercial hub of Belize, and houses the Housing Department, the Port, Customs House, Fuel Depots, and handles the export of our sugar along with light commodities such as soft drinks, water, beer and batteries among others.
The City Council will be expanding the employment opportunities of Belizeans and will be looking at new jobs in the Small and Micro business area. "Every month we get a minimum of twenty-five new application for trade license", stated the Mayor. Last year the Council expanded their concept of city Tourism, in order to get more tourists to stay in the city. With the opening of new Fort Street Mall, the extension of side walks, the opening of the Bliss Institute of Performing Arts, the opening of Mr. Woods' New Mariner Village at old Cucumber Beach, along with the expansion and construction of some fifteen acres of land on the Marine Parade, we will be attracting more tourists. "I am optimistic that we can hold our own and provide more jobs in 2004", ended Mayor Fonseca.
"This is truly the largest private sector town which involves ranchers and farmers", stated a member of the San Ignacio Town Council. San Ignacio is only second in Tourism, lead by San Pedro. The second largest municipality boasts in having the largest number European visitors and houses Belize's biggest Maya Ruin, Cahal Pech and I will just whisper the name Mountain Pine Ridge. Agriculture is still a major job provider especially in areas such as production in corn, beans, cattle rearing, diary, and poultry. San Ignacio expanded by leaps and bounds with construction in 2003 and we expect more in 2004. This year San Ignacio will celebrate their 100th year as a town. Vendors and businesses will benefit greatly as they prepare to unfold a calendar of events which includes the renowned La Ruta Maya River Challenge and the city fair.
"Construction, Tourism and the Free Zone are the three big topics for Punta Gorda", reported Mario Chavarria, town administration. Infrastructural Development is a priority in PG and the drainage project is ongoing along with the construction of new homes in the Hopeville Housing area.
The Tourism Industry is also improving in P.G. A surveying process is taking place on the development of the new Free Zone, under area representative Hon. Mike Espat.
However, P.G. is still an agriculture based district with farming in rice, cocoa, live stock and a thriving lumber industry. Its new highway makes it more accessible and more production will surely take place in 2004.
"This city has a big secret, and it does not pertain to citrus, bananas or mangoes", explained Mayor Cassian Nuñez. The town is for artists, with talents in music and arts. The town is called the 'Culture Capital'.
Dangriga has also expanded their boundaries with a lot of construction occurring in the town and rural areas. This year we foresee more tourist dollars to come to Dangriga. We also encourage our businessmen and women to invest and assist in the growth of Dangriga. "With God, many things will happen to Dangriga this year, we are positive", said Mayor Nuñez.