(STAR) By Bon JP Largo The Freeman - The recent and upcoming development events in the city prompted Mandaue City Mayor Thadeo Ouano to say, "Today, Mandaue is a force to reckon with."

Currently, the economic excitement in Mandaue City is concentrated on the Mandaue Reclamation Area where the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) will be built. Other developments in the area are the construction of the new Cebu Doctors' University campus, the Cebu Boardwalk and the Taft Information Technology Zone. Further details about each project are however unavailable.

The reclamation project, Ouano said is a showcase of Mandaue City's sound financial management. "Built without us spending a single centavo, we are starting to reap the maximum benefits that convention center brings to the city and the province," he added.

Today is the groundbreaking ceremony of the CICC and Ouano, with the rest of the Mandaue populace, is excited about it.

"We are not contended with just being an industrial hub. We wanted to be competitive in the global economic arena. Hence, we charted a blueprint to enhance our competitiveness. We now want to provide our investors a venue where our products can be displayed for international buyers to appreciate, a venue where the investment for meetings and conferences can be held, a venue where entrepreneurship and craftsmanship can be shown to the rest of the world," Ouano said in his speech during the opening of the Mandaue Trade Fair Exhibit yesterday evening.

The convention center he said would be the catalyst of growth that will catapult Mandaue to be the next destination in the world of tourism, investment and business.

Also, the proposed Cebu International Trade and Exhibition Center (CITEX) have been endorsed by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) to JICA for funding.

Furthermore, the city of Mandaue is showcasing its 27 barangays in a trade fair to further promote each of the barangays' products and to create awareness among its residents.

"Each of our events here for the fourth Mantawi Festival is barangay-based including this year's Mantawi 2006 Trade Fair," disclosed Cheryl Ouano, executive committee member of Mandaue's Mantawi Festival this year, adding that they want to showcase the products made by Mandauehanons.

Twenty-seven booths were spread all over the Mandaue Heritage Garden, which are occupied by the 27 barangays of the city. Food products such as the famous bibingka, budbud, silhig lanot, and weaved baskets among others, were displayed - all are signature products of the city.

In a statement earlier, the mayor said that his administration would continue to develop a favorable environment for businesses to thrive in the city. He disclosed that they are continuously bringing down the cost of doing business by not collecting sales taxes. "Because I believe entrepreneurs can better utilize the additional economic gains by developing bigger businesses in our city, which ultimately generates more employment and better income for our fellow Mandauehanons," he said.

Dubbed as "The Merchants' Paradise," Mandaue City is an industrial city housing multi-national companies and local giants and is the base of the Cebu furniture manufacturing and exporting industry players.

There are about 10,000 micro, small, medium and large enterprises thriving for economic progress in Mandaue and the city accounts 40 percent of the total furniture export sector, making them the furniture capital in the country today.

"The merchants' paradise has assumed a new dimension. From a dispersed, fragmented trading, we have now transformed ourselves into a well-organized trading center with an international outlook," mayor Ouano concluded.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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