Masterful master planning

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The Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2022 has concluded its search for the country’s most undaunted and unstoppable entrepreneurs. Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines is a program of the SGV Foundation, Inc., with the participation of co-presenters the Asian Institute of Management, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Philippine Business for Social Progress, and the Philippine Stock Exchange. In the next few weeks, BusinessWorld will feature each finalist ahead of the awards ceremony next month.

Jeffrey NgCEO and President,Cathay Land, Inc.

JEFFREY NG grew up in an entrepreneurial family — his grandfather owned a hardware store while his father had a steel company. Inspired by his father’s steel business and with a desire to help the economic development in the country, Mr. Ng sought to convert underutilized land into modern suburban communities with master-planned townships, green cities and quality homes for every Filipino to enjoy. He put his idea into motion and started Cathay Land, Inc. (CLI) in 1994, focusing on the southern suburbs of Cavite.

An Economics graduate of the University of the Philippines, Mr. Ng noted Metro Manila was becoming overpopulated, with the middle and lower classes being priced out of the housing market. He envisioned Cavite as viable alternative to Manila. CLI started its strategic land banking in Cavite, purchasing 250 hectares at a very low price. It targeted middle-class Filipinos with a subdivision that was affordable but with world-class amenities similar to Makati villages.

“I thought it was quite obvious considering the big mismatch in prices,” he said. “You have rural land worth a tiny fraction of Metro Manila prices and sooner or later, the market will appreciate along with the Cavite land. It turns out we were correct because the population has grown from one million to four million.”

CLI’s South Forbes Golf City was born, boasting of “world-class boutique communities.” It featured eight unique internationally themed subdivisions, eight mid-rise condominiums, two commercial centers, two schools and colleges, a hotel and an 18-hole golf course. The subdivisions featured reasonably sized and combinable lots, which makes them affordable for the middle class, while at the same time offering luxurious common amenities that differentiate them from those by other developers.

With a full commitment to servicing the diverse housing needs of middle-class Filipinos, Mr. Ng embarked on a strategic expansion across Cavite by delivering not just top-notch and affordable housing options, but also lifestyle developments.

An example of this is the Acienda Designer Outlet, which is described as the country’s first true international outlet mall. The outlet gives shoppers a new and innovative experiential retail experience south of Metro Manila. Through this, he said CLI was able to establish a new business model for an outlet mall in the country and put up a commercial anchor development for the rest of the new master-planned Acienda City.

Cavite is the front door of Metro Manila from the south and will become a central area, according to Mr. Ng. “With the extension of the Skyway up to Carmona, the Cavite-Laguna Expressway, and the Cavite-Tagaytay-Batangas Expressway, South Forbes Golf City becomes a 30-minute drive away from Makati. It’s now much more convenient,” he said. “Silang is now on the way to becoming a city, which will lead to more funding, investments and jobs in the area.”

Mr. Ng believes that every Filipino should have a home. “I have been fortunate to have led the Subdivision Housing Developers Association (SHDA) in the last few years. I have become intimately involved in the problems of the housing industry,” he said.

He has advocated for laws and measures that were instrumental in helping Filipinos have their own homes, while creating a conducive business environment to industry players. One of these is the amendment of Section 20 of Republic Act No. 7279, which encouraged the private sector to participate in socialized housing and reduced the cost of housing units for the underprivileged and homeless. He has also led efforts to make land conversion by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) faster and easier.

As president of the UP School of Economics Alumni Association (UPSEAA), he also worked with the Department of Finance (DoF) and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to work with Congress on the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act (CREATE). The law lowered the corporate income tax rate and made it easier for investors to get incentives from the government. Mr. Ng also committed to a 9.7-hectare land donation in San Simon, Pampanga, which now hosts 700 free housing beneficiaries in the Nayong Tsinoy community.

Mr. Ng said CLI is looking at other sites in Central Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao to replicate the success of its projects in Silang, Cavite. As part of its partnership with Chang Kai Shek College, CLI donated 11.5 hectares of land to the institution for their satellite campus within South Forbes Golf City. From the initial K-12 programs, the satellite campus will also offer college degree courses and will be part of the upcoming college business district called Crestkey Estates.

From an initial equity of P125 million, CLI currently has P9.6 billion in equity as a result of consistent year-to-year growth. CLI today still remains true to its roots by maintaining value for money and flexible payment terms for all its properties — houses and lots, and residential, commercial and industrial lots.

“For some companies that also engage in the development of residential estates, their projects, while fully sold, remain vacant even 10 years after project completion,” Mr. Ng said.

“In our case, we go the extra mile by priming the surrounding areas commercial enclaves, recreational facilities, colleges, and places of worship. We cultivate communities that promote a healthy, convenient, and balanced lifestyle to the point that our satisfied customers often become our brand advocates,” he added.

The media sponsors of the Entrepreneur of the Year Philippines 2022 are BusinessWorld and the ABS-CBN News Channel. Gold Sponsors are SteelAsia Manufacturing Corp., Uratex, and Navegar. Silver Sponsors are Intellicare, OneWorld Alliance Logistics Corp., and Regan Industrial Sales, Inc.

The winners of the Entrepreneur Of The Year Philippines 2022 will be announced on Nov. 21 in an awards banquet at the Grand Hyatt Manila. The Philippine winner will represent the country in the World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2023 in Monte Carlo, Monaco in June 2023. The Entrepreneur Of The Year program is produced globally by Ernst & Young (EY).