TACLOBAN CITY– The United States government, in collaboration with the Philippine government, has initiated a groundbreaking partnership aimed at fostering the economic development of nine key cities in the country.

Among these areas is Tacloban City.

This undertaking, known as the Urban Connect Project, is set to receive a substantial investment of P625 million ($11 million) over a span of five years.

Aside from Tacloban, other identified areas include the cities of Batangas, Legazpi, Puerto Princesa, Iloilo, Tagbilaran, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, and Zamboanga.

The program is designed to empower these urban centers and enhance their economic potential by offering capacity-building initiatives and technical assistance.

Under this initiative, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will work closely with the local governments of these partner cities to stimulate enterprise growth, streamline the business permit system, bolster public financial management, facilitate the transition to e-governance, and promote cooperation among neighboring cities.

The project also intends to enhance health and education services, strengthen climate resilience and disaster readiness, and advocate for gender equality and social inclusion in these partner cities.

Ryan Washburn, the Mission Director of USAID Philippines, expressed the US government’s commitment to ensuring that these cities not only become engines of economic growth but also exemplars of inclusivity and innovation.

“The Urban Connect Project fosters sustainability and resilience and ensures that no one is left behind as these cities progress,” he affirmed.

The official launch of the Urban Connect Project is set on October 31, coinciding with World Cities Day and the observance of the Philippines’ Local Government Month.