Freeman Cebu Business

BPO hub worth P6B to rise in Mandaue

Jose P. Sollano - The Philippine Star

CEBU, Philippines - In the next three years, Mandaue City will soon be known as the center of business process outsourcing (BPO) in the southern Philippines with the establishment of a five-tower cyberpark worth about P6 billion.

Norberto Quisumbing, Jr. chairman of the Norkis Group of Companies and Danilo E. Ignacio, chairman and chief executive officer of DEI Properties tapped by Norkis for the development and management services of Norkis Cyberpark revealed this in yesterday's press briefing.

The 2.8-hectare Norkis Cyberpark is seen to generate 38,000 new jobs to become a flagship business for the Norkis Group of Companies.

Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes said Norkis Group of Companies is now an institution that helps the economic development of the city. He also assured that the city government of Mandaue is "business friendly".

The BPO hub will be built on lot adjacent to the JCentre Mall along AS Fortuna Street, a former industrial estate area which has been with the family for many years.

"As early as last year when we first discussed our plans with them, the city government has been very supportive. Hand-in-hand, our plans for Norkis Cyberpark will help provide jobs for more Filipinos and help keep our countrymen stay in our country," said Quisumbing.

According to Quisumbing, the first office tower Norkis One will be completed by September this year and features six storeys with a gross floor area of 9,000 square meters.

"When the local government and the private sector work together, the ease of doing business expedites everything. We are also thankful to the Mandaue City Council for their support in facilitating the required approval to jumpstart the development process. This will help fast-track our goal to complete the whole Norkis Cyberpark development in three to five years," said Ignacio.

Quisumbing, on the other hand, said given the two recent natural calamities that have visited Cebu, Norkis is taking steps to prepare for future disasters.

"Taking a page from the hard lessons of the recent earthquake and super typhoon, our consultants have designed Norkis Cyberpark and its structures with future calamities in mind. The buildings and the development will be designed to ensure we are ready should something similar happen in the future," said Quisumbing.

Norkis-which is also into vehicle manufacturing and distribution, coffee production, horse racetrack operation, and financial and travel services-recently held groundbreaking ceremonies for the first office tower and started working on the first component of development.

The first phase of development will be complemented by The Arcade, a retail strip featuring food, service and entertainment shops, also to be completed also by September.

Upon completion, the whole of Norkis Cyberpark development can house more than 114,000 square meters of office and retail space.

"The Norkis Cyberpark project will help push development in the Mandaue City area as well as increase overall economic activity,"  Quisumbing said, noting that job creation was his biggest motivation for embarking on this new venture.

As an introductory offering, Ignacio said office space in the first tower would likely be rented out at P350 to P400 per sq. m, slightly lower than the rates in other business parks in Cebu.

With a low office vacancy rate of two percent and despite the entry of more players in Cebu's BPO-oriented property segment, Ignacio said demand for office space was expected to remain high.

In diversifying into office property development, the Norkis group is banking on the project's strategic location, good reputation and credit standing and the bright prospects of the BPO industry.   

As the project gains traction, each new building in the complex is targeted to be taller than the last one to accommodate more BPO locators. The second building will have eight stories; the third, 10; the fourth, 12, and the fifth with 20 stories.

The Norkis group was built by Quisumbing in 1962, starting with motorcycle distribution and manufacturing but has now expanded to industrial and service businesses. /JMD (FREEMAN)

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