CARACOL, Haiti -- Inter-American Development Bank president Luis Alberto Moreno on Monday joined Haitian President Michel Martelly, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former US President Bill Clinton for the inauguration of the Caracol Industrial Park (CIP), a modern manufacturing facility in northern Haiti.
The CIP is a project backed by the Haitian and US governments and the IDB to promote investment and job-creation in a region beset by high poverty and unemployment rates. 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.
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.
"Last November, President Martelly invited us to Caracol to lay the cornerstone of a new industrial park, which he envisioned as the engine for development of Haiti's Grand Nord," said Moreno. "Today, less than one year later, the Caracol Industrial Park is a reality."
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 Wal-Mart.
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.
The US government is contributing $124 million to the CIP project, including a power plant, which will also supply electricity to surrounding communities under a rural electrification program. In addition, 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 Bill Clinton and Moreno in a meeting with a group of influential business people interested in Haiti's economic and social prospects. Among those present were Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson and Digicel CEO Dennis O'Brien.
The IDB is Haiti's leading multilateral donor. Since the 2010 earthquake 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.