Caracol Industrial Park: Two Year Fast Facts on the U.S. Government's Work in Haiti
Unemployment in Haiti is a big problem, with an estimated 40 percent of the population unemployed. From a peak employment of 100,000 in the early 1980s, employment in the garment sector has declined due to embargoes, insecurity, and lack of investment. U.S. trade preferences, enacted through the HOPE (2010) and HELP II (2008) legislation, have made Haiti a more attractive place to invest. In its National Action Plan, the Government of Haiti expressed its desire to create centers of economic development outside of Port-au- Prince for Haiti’s growth and to bring jobs to Haiti’s underserved regions. The Caracol Industrial Park is a first step toward achieving this goal, bringing together the Haitian and U.S. governments, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and Sae-A Trading Co. Ltd.― Korea’s leading garment manufacturer. The park is projected to create 20,000 permanent jobs through Sae-A’s investment alone, and marks the first major public-private partnership to bring permanent jobs to Haiti since the January 2010 earthquake. At a ceremony in November 2011, the first stone was laid in the park, and operation and manufacturing activity is projected to begin in the first quarter of 2012.
The U.S. Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is supporting several key interventions to prepare for and support the Park.
- Transition Initiatives: In preparation for the rapid industrialization and urbanization that will accompany the Park, USAID is financing visible infrastructure improvements in neighboring communities, assisting with security for the Park’s perimeter and supporting Haitian cooperatives to jumpstart training for industrial sewing in the North. Interventions benefitting nearby communities include installation of solar lights on the national highway and rehabilitation of clinics, community centers, libraries, and sports fields.
- Communications Campaign: USAID aims to ensure that the whole community understands how the park benefits them by facilitating and encouraging dialogue between local and national government officials and affected citizens about the park and related investments.
- Energy: USAID is funding the construction of a power plant, which will supply electricity to the industrial park and surrounding communities. The power plant will have a 10 megawatt installed capacity by June 2012; however, USAID is designing the facility to accommodate expansion as needed to at least 25 megawatts.
- Housing: USAID is also supporting housing in proximity to the Caracol Industrial Park. The housing provides alternative locations for the victims of the 2010 earthquake and other households looking for housing away from the congestion of Port-au-Prince. USAID has identified and secured eight housing sites. In total, these sites will furnish a combination of housing or housing finance for 5,000 households, or 25,000 beneficiaries.
- Ports: USAID is also exploring approaches to improve port facilities in the North in an effort to increase and expedite the export of goods from the North.