Belize is a country of slightly less than 300,000 inhabitants today.
Its major revenue generators are:
- Agriculture and agro-processing
- International financial services
- Manufacturing (furniture, construction materials, wood and paper products, etc.)
The United States and the United Kingdom are Belize’s two largest trading partners, for tourism as well as goods and services. Belize has experienced consistently high levels of economic growth over the past three decades, including forecasted GDP growth of 3.5% in 2009 (source: International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database). The country government has focused on bringing investment into Belize through incentives, commercial free zones, export processing zones and easy repatriation of profits and dividends (source: Beltraide: Belize Trade and Investment Development Service).
Despite the promising outlook, however, there are still areas for improvement. For example, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, Belize’s unemployment rate stood at 9.4% in 2006, but has dropped to 8.1% in 2009 (CIA Wolrd Factbook). The Balam Escape project is estimated to add more than 500 permanent jobs during its construction phase, and at least the same amount after completion for support services, and other ancillary services directly related to the project.
In addition, there are portions of the country that are lacking in basic, reliable infrastructure –telephone service, power generation, etc. – the Balam Escape project is investing millions of dollars directly to infrastructure in Belize and bringing much needed services to areas completely lacking in basic amenities.
The project founder, Dr. Porsch, has already made a substantial investment in both the arts and education of underprivileged children through his Verena Foundation. In addition, the Verena Foundation recently donated much-needed water filtration systems to Zimbabwe to fight the cholera epidemic there. More information about the foundation can be found at www.verenafoundation.org.
The project will build low cost housing for workers of the Balam Escape, and will also develop a school and hospital in the area, bringing education and health care to an area of the country that is lacking in each. The nearest school and hospital are currently more than 90 minutes away, showing what a grave need exists for them in the project area. Revenues from the residential portion of the project will be used to fund the construction of both at no cost to the citizens of Belize. This unprecedented commitment will allow entire families to move to the Corozal District of Belize and be among the first to establish the community there.
As soon as the first phase of the development (hotel construction) nears completion, we will implement a substantial training program in Hospitality Management for potential employees. This will entail training from entry-level hospitality personnel all the way to management staff, ensuring a high quality trained employee able to deliver the calibre of service that is crucial to high end luxury destinations of the world.
The project will further include GreenTREC (Green Technologies Research and Education Center), an environmental technologies research campus. The campus will house leading technology firms in the areas of environmental, sustainable and renewable technologies (e.g., solar and other alternative powers, battery technology, waste water treatment, water recycling and desalination technologies, etc.). These firms will use the campus to conduct research and development activities and then deploy these new technologies in the Balam Escape and other communities. This will allow the firms to prove and improve the technologies and showcase and market them to developers globally so the citizens of the world will all benefit from a rapid deployment of environmentally sound products and technologies.The project will make it a priority to offer scholarships to deserving Belizeans who would not ordinarily be able to afford such an education, but who show exceptional academic competence to excel in the programs to be offered.
As a consequence to the project, Balam will impact Belize directly by contributing to economic growth, real social progress and diversification of the economy through increased investment in infrastructure, human resources and the satisfaction of basic human needs, diversification of the agricultural sector, and revitalizing a dynamic partnership between the public and private sectors.
Dr. Porsch has stated that fully 50% of his profit share in perpetuity will be directed to the Verena Foundation, which will fund the ongoing operations of both the school, the hospital, and other ventures.
The project is slated to be a carbon-neutral development, due to several factors:
- First Balam Escape is committed that 100 new trees will be planted for each dwelling unit constructed and thus setting aside 3,000 acres for reforestation.
- Secondly, we will use indigenous building materials (adobe stones and satillio tiles) to avoid the need for importing vast amounts of materials.
- Thirdly, the entire area will use sustainable technologies for power generation (including bio-diesel power generations). We have determined that there is sufficient bio-mass on our property to power some of these alternative technologies at a price to our customers below what Belizeans are paying today for traditionally-generated electricity imported from Mexico.
- We will use recycled/reclaimed water for irrigation. Our project will be the largest implementation of recycled water in Belize.
The project also contains a nature preserve – we have identified an island in one of the larger lagoons that is home to over 200 native Woodstorks. Rather than displacing them, we have decided to preserve the entire lagoon and adjacent land as a nature preserve.
Once completed, The Balam Escape will continue to be a source of employment and economic and social growth for Belize.