Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Business investment conference held for Haiti

A conference was held in Miami to bring together private companies to drum up investment interest in Haiti. Business leaders say they need a master plan from the Haitian government before they begin to estimate costs. A wide range of businesses were represented at the conference including security, shelter and transportation.

From this Reuters article that we found at, writer Pascal Fletcher describes the conference.

Private sector firms that focus on post-conflict or disaster relief operations gathered at a meeting in Miami this week to consider the business opportunities offered by Haiti's recovery from the Jan. 12 quake that devastated the capital Port-au-Prince and surrounding towns.

With Haiti's government saying up to 300,000 people may have died, some economists are calling the Haitian quake the deadliest natural disaster in modern times. Relief experts and business leaders agree the mammoth task of rebuilding what was already the Western Hemisphere's poorest state will be impossible without private sector participation.

"I don't think they have any option but to get private companies in to help reconstruct Haiti," Kevin Lumb, CEO of London-based Global Investment Summits Ltd., which organized the Haiti Reconstruction meeting in Miami, told Reuters.

Companies looking for business at the Haiti reconstruction meeting included Georgia-based Harbor Homes LLC, which offers self-assembled PermaShelter houses for those left homeless by the quake, and Virginia-based Agility Logistics, which already supplies food rations to UN peacekeeping troops in Somalia.

More than one million Haitians were left homeless and displaced by the January quake and Harbor Homes' Richard Rivette said his company could provide easily assembled, storm- and quake-resistant galvanized steel homes to create the new villages expected to be set up outside of Port-au-Prince.

But he and other executives at the Miami meeting said they needed to have from the Haitian government and its relief partners a clearer idea of the planned rebuilding strategy.

"Without a master plan, it's hard to cost estimate it," said Rivette.

Weather forecasters are already predicting a more active than normal Atlantic hurricane season in 2010 and storm-swept Haiti could face a fresh humanitarian disaster if the hundreds of thousands of quake homeless are not under adequate shelter by the time the season starts on June 1.

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